Some 15 Chiefs drawn from villages in Fako Division, Southwest Region have written to President Paul Biya, beseeching him to intervene and grant them clemency before they are jailed.
In the letter dated September 5, a copy which The Post procured, the traditional rulers vented out what they termed their “difficulties, embarrassments and predicaments” relating to the land surrender they applied for.
According to them, it is over three years since they applied for land for their various communities’ expansion.
“When our applications got to the SDO, we were each asked to pay FCFA 500,000 for the creation of a Site Board Commission, SBC.
A date was fixed for the SBC to meet in the field for the selection of the sites. Each concerned village was asked to provide logistics in the form of fuel and entertainment that ranged between FCFA 500,000 to FCFA 1million.
We were again asked to pay FCFA 1.5 million for the production of a sketch site plan.
Before the Minutes of the SBC after visiting the Site were signed, the Secretary who is usually the Fako Divisional MINDCAF Chief of Service for Lands collected between FCFA 500,000 and FCFA 1million from the various villages.
After the exercise, we were individually invited by the Divisional Delegate of MINDCAF and requested to pay between FCFA 2 and 3 million to enable the file to be signed by the relevant services and forwarded to the CDC for their approval.
We were again requested each to pay various monies ranging from FCFA 2.5 to FCFA 5 million for the demarcation and planting of pillars pending the forwarding of the files to the Ministry of State Property, Surveys and Land Tenure in Yaounde
Ironically, we realised that some of these files were transmitted to MINDCAF Yaounde, while others were kept behind for unexplained reasons till date,” the Chiefs narrated to the President.
They however, regretted that some of the files have been treated by MINDCAF Minister, but no land have been earmarked to serve the purpose and given the huge sums they have spent to fulfill the lengthy procedure, ranging from FCFA10 to over 15 million, “we are shocked and surprised to learn from these very authorities that the sites were earlier allocated to other villages.”
The custodians of tradition said, such an action is a deliberate and well-calculated ploy to extort monies from them and that even the complaint they made to the CONAC Chairman has fallen on deaf ears.
The Chiefs bemoaned that they are in a fix as most of them are being dragged to Court “since the monies we used to follow-up the files were principally obtained from individuals who acted as “sponsors.”
The Chiefs said it is for this reason that one of their colleagues, Chief Ndoto Elionge of Ewili is serving a nine year jail term in the Buea prison.
“It is now glaring and evident that we shall eventually be jailed for collecting monies falsely. What impressions would the people of Buea municipality represent, if about 14 of their traditional rulers are thrown into prison?
It is worth mentioning that the rural masses and the indigenes of this municipality are ardent militants and supporters of the CPDM Party and the backlash of this situation may certainly have a very negative effect to our cherished party and its Chairman, who doubles as the President of our Country,” the Chiefs wrote.
The Chiefs further prayed Biya to transfer the over 150 hectares of the University of Buea land to them to use it and liberate themselves from their creditors and avoid imprisonment “Considering that the Buea University is an integral part of the State and they don’t face any prejudice if they don’t obtain the land, it is our fervent suggestion that the State gives us the opportunity to solve our problem by obtaining the said land.”