According to Journal du Cameroon, Barrister Felix Agbor Kongho and Dr Fontem Neba of the organisation told this reporter at the Kondengui prison this afternoon they disown all releases calling for independence of Southern Cameroons
The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium has reiterated its demand for the return to federalism as a system of government that would curb inequalities in the sharing of resources and political power between the minority English-speaking Cameroonians and French-speaking Cameroonians.
Barrister Felix Agbor Balla Kongho and Dr Fontem Neba, President and Secretary General of the Consortium spoke to this reporter at the Kondengui Principal Prison in Yaounde yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. The duo currently charged with terrorism, rebellion and other offences have been in detention ever since they were arrested in Buea, South West region on January 17.
Barrister Agbor Kongho said the consortium which is legally registered in the United States is not party to any organisation calling for the independence of Anglophone regions.
“The consortium has never changed its stance. It is true that the people’s thinking might be changing, but as leaders of the Consortium, we maintain that we are for a two-state federation. However, people who are in favour or craving for independence have the right to do so, but not in the name of the Consortium” Barrister Agbor Kongho stressed.
It should be noted Tassang Wilfred, programs coordinator of the Consortium and Executive Secretary General of Cameroon Teacher’s Trade Union has been signing press releases from his hideout in Nigeria on behalf of the Consortium. Some of the press releases advocate independence of Southern Cameroons. He currently leads SCACUF which is a movement with one major objective – to fight for the independence of Southern Cameroons. The detained President and Secretary General of the Consortium both hold Tassang should not be mixing up his activities in SCACUF with those of the Consortium.
“It is good to point out that we cannot be criticising a system or certain leadership styles and systematically building same. We have learned with disappointment that Anglophones are victimising and intimidating others on social media. A silent majority that shared the ideologies of federalism apparently would no longer speak their minds even on social media for fear of being tagged, black legs, sell outs or other bad names,” Dr Fontem chipped in.
Both leaders held books with their fingers between pages to mark where they left off as they chatted on the court yard of the prison. They expressed bitterness at what they both described as “unacceptable levels of hate speech on social media.”
“Anglophones and Francophones need to stop the verbal attacks on each other. Separatists and Federalists equally need to stop attacking one another. Even people who believe Cameroon should stay the way it is, have the right to their opinion. Anyone supporting intimidation and violence against people who share contrary views, should know he is grooming a monster whose existence he will regret later. We have also learned with consternation that some people are still pushing the North West – South West divide. This needs to stop immediately” said Barrister Agbor Kongho.
The internationally acclaimed legal mind also told Journal du Cameroun the Consortium is against any group forcing or intimidating citizens to respect ghost towns or forcing teachers and lawyers to respect the on-going strike. “People are supposed to be educated. When they understand the reasons for the strike and find it important to be part of it, they will support it. The use of force or violence is out of place” said he.
To Dr Fontem Neba, it is possible that not all forms of violence recorded during the on-going strike are carried out by over-excited youths or people pushing the independence agenda. “In a situation like this, it is important to note that the government could stage an attack on innocent citizens in order to justify its use of force on protesters” he said. “Permit restate that we are against all forms of violence. We are leaders of a legal organisation and we are not for disintegration of the country”
Besides leading the Consortium created to speak and negotiate with government on behalf of English-speaking Cameroon, Barrister Felix Agbor Balla doubles as president of the Fako Lawyers Association, FAKLA. Several international lawyers’ organisations have called for his unconditional release while others have requested the state of Cameroon to try him in a civilian court.