By Hope Nda
The Buea Military Court on February 15 pronounced a 16-month sentence on detained nursing mother, Antoinette Kongnso, alongside a fine of FCFA 65,000. But she was asked to pay just the fine, as she has already served her prison term during the pre-trial detention.
Kongnso, who has been detained since October 2, 2021, was found guilty of “failure to report” terrorism, said Barrister Ewule Lyonga, who was at the court.
“Considering the fact that she had already spent 16 months in pre-trial detention, she is just expected to pay the fine of FCFA 65,000 for her to go home with her family,” Barrister Ewule said.
Antoinette Kongso was charged for failing to report the “terrorist” activities of Clement Mbashie popularly called No Pity, a separatist fighter in the Northwest Region whom she dated some years back.
Barrister Ewule Lyonga and other lawyers who have been championing the case had submitted to the court that her arrest and detention were unlawful.
Kongnso was eight months pregnant when she was arbitrarily arrested from her home in Buea by a military officer popularly called Moja Moja.
According to Barrister Tamfu Richard, another advocate who has been calling for her release, Moja Moja abused and tortured Antoinette Kongnso before forcefully bundling her to the gendarmerie brigade without an arrest warrant.
He and other human rights lawyers initiated several legal battles to secure her release but to no avail.
Wednesday’s decision by the Buea Military Court gives them the much-desired justice they have been seeking on behalf of the nursing mother, whose innocent baby has spent its first year in prison.