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Cameroon – Buea Strike: Lawyers Raise Alarm As Three UB Students Gone Missing Under State Custody –

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Written by Deckson N.

After the strike of students of the University of Buea, that saw some of them being arrested and released, it looks like some students are no where to be found. This is what reveals the CJ, a Cameroonian news website.

According to CJ, On Tuesday December 6, a defense team of two lawyers consisting of Barrister NKEA Emmanuel and Barrister Benvolio Lekunze defied the current sit down strike by lawyers in Anglophone Cameroon to secure the release of some University of Buea Students who had been arrested and incarcerated in the Buea Central Prisons.

The detained students who had been arrested on 28 November were charged to court by the Deputy State Counsel for Buea, Priso Kingue Annette Epse Mba Azemeh with diverse offenses including Insurrection, Riot, and Political Procession in a Public Establishment, Destruction, Assault, and Non-possession of Identity Cards.

Charged before Magistrate Njonjo John Njie of the Court of First Instance Buea in Suit No CFIB/357F/2016 were Chi Jude Ngang, Marcel Ukah Meh, Okie Elvis Akama, Mpung Hilary, Meshach Albert Ebitimi, and Njonji Watson Samme.

Although six accused persons were listed on the charge sheet, only the 1st, 2nd and 5th accused persons were present in court. The 3rd, 4th, and 6th accused persons were not present.

When the Presiding Magistrate requested that the charges be read to the accused persons, the lead counsel Barrister NKEA raised a preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case. He referred the court to section 21 of the Penal Code on the classification of offenses in Cameroon and argued that by virtue of section 116(e) of the Penal Code the offense of Insurrection is a felony which according to sections 15 and 18 of the Law on Judicial Organization in Cameroon can only be heard and determined by the High Court and not the Court of First Instance.

He questioned the competence of the State Counsel who drafted the charge for being oblivious to such a rudimentary principle of law with regards to the trial jurisdictions of the various courts.

Pursuing the objection further, Nkea urged the court to Order the legal department to produce those accused persons who were not present in court or show proof that they were regularly admitted to bail, otherwise, he prayed the court to hold that the absent accused persons disappeared whilst in state custody. He argued that the brutal force that accompanied the arrest and the fact that the detainees were suspiciously detained in diverse facilities in Limbe, Tiko, Mutengene and Buea raises legitimate fears as to their safety and whereabouts.

The Prosecuting Team of Magistrate Ewane and Mvodo conceded to the objection on jurisdiction, but didn’t say much about the absent students.

The matter was stood down for ruling on the Preliminary Objection but when the court recalled the case, rather than deliver the much expected ruling instead proceeded to have the matter adjourned to Decemeber 14, 2016 for Ruling but admitted the accused persons to self bail.

Later in the day, a second batch of detainees were arraigned before Magistrate Sabina Efundem still of the Court of First Instance Buea, in Suit No CFIB/351F/2016. They included Lawrence Fonyam, Nso Nso Arrey, Tezom Divine Teche, Metuge Alain, and Njinuwo Lesly.

In this matter only three out of the five accused persons were present in Court. In applying for the bail of the accused persons, Barrister Nkea again prayed the court as a preliminary issue, to determine the whereabouts of the absent accused persons whom he said should be presumed as haven disappeared in state custody if no cogent evidence is presented to the court to confirm that they had been regularly admitted to bail by the Legal Department or a Court. He maintained that the violent nature of their arrest and the fact that they unusually detained outside the jurisdiction of their arrest raises genuine fears as to their safety and whereabouts.

The court upheld the application and admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of 500 000FCFA and one surety in like sum, and equally ordered the legal department to show proof that the absent accused persons were regularly admitted to bail at the legal department. The matter was adjourned to January 16, 2017 for the legal department to comply with the court order.

Via CJ

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Deckson N.

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