Buea-Cameroon: SW Attorney General Summons Six Common Law Lawyers as strike escalates

Six Cameroon Common Law Lawyers who are together with their peers currently observing a second week of sit-down strike following government’s reluctance to heed to their demandshave been summoned to appear before the South West Attorney General today, Thursday, October 20, 2016.
Barrister Nkongho FelixAgbor Balla, President of the Fako Lawyers' Association (FAKLA); Barrister Sopseh Nganjo Emilien, President of the Manyu Lawyers' Association (MALA); Barrister Philip Awutah Atubah, the then President of the Meme Lawyers' Association (MELA); and Harmony Bobga-Mbuton, President of the North West Lawyers’ Association (NOWELA) had October 6 signed a release urging Common Law Lawyers to observe a sit-down strike from October 11 to October 14.
The lawyers say their May 2015 ultimatum addressed to government and a reminder made in February 2016 had not received a favorable response. They want solely Common Law magistrates to serve in Common Law jurisdictions and that all pieces of legislation in Cameroon should respect the bilingual and bi-jural character of the state.

As they celebrated the huge success of their last week's four-day strike on October 15, the aforementioned lawyers moved to prolong the strike.
The announced extension of the strike from Monday, October 17th to 21st, they said, was intended to mount more pressure on the Cameroon Government to critically look into their demands and react to them appropriately, instead of what the lawyers refer to as Government's "Divide and Rule Policy"..

Shaken by the strike, Government reportedly was trying to meet the lawyers’ demands but without total commitment, lawyers say.
Agbor Balla, Awutah and Sopseh will be expected to appear before the South West Attorney General along with Barristers Divine Mboke, Charles Njualem and Justice Ebah Ntoko who are members of the Bar Councilfor the South West.
The lawyers note with regret that the Government instead of responding to their demands is still employing its traditional policy of divide and rule. Consequently, they called on their members to remain resolute, determined, steadfast and focus and not to lend themselves to any Government manipulation.

As we went to press, Barrister Bobga-Mbuton had not been included in the summons given that he elects jurisdiction in the North West Region.
UB lecturers endorse strike as genuine.

The lawyers had in prolonging the strike action said they shall be synergizing with the National Union of Teachers of Higher Education (SYNES), Cameroon Teachers’ Trade Union –(CATTU), Teachers Association of Cameroon (TAC), Traders Associations, Taxi Drivers Unions, Bus Companies, and Commercial Motorbike Riders’ Associations, as well as “BuyamSellam” Associations, across the North West and South West Regions.

SYNES UB Chapter after an Executive Committee meeting said in a Press Statement that, "the present action by the lawyers is the result of the stony silence of government which has often mired cultural arguments in this country and heated up the polity needlessly".
"There doesn't seem to be a national dialogue mechanism to promptly address and thereby mitigate the tensions resulting from some of the wanton abuses of Cameroon's bi-cultural composition," the statement signed by SYNES UB President, Prof. James Arrey Abangma and SYNES UB scribe, Dr. Fontem A. Neba reads in part.

The lecturers endorsed the lawyers’ strike in the following words:
“We, Teachers of Higher Education entirely endorse the Common Law Lawyers’ action as a genuine expression of the continual frustration Anglophones have loved throughout this tiresome union. Their action mirrors their revulsion against the on-going State-sponsored cultural genocide the two juridico-legal systems of this country must be protected. The industrial action reflects the aspiration of the average Anglophone and should be listened to. We call on ALL Cameroonians to support the lawyers’ quest for equality, for the good of our country.”

Strike has been infiltrated by secessionists
- Barrister Ngek John Ngala, Bar GA President’s North West Representative
Barrister Ngek John Ngala, the new Representative of the President of the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association for the North West Region in a press conference in Bamenda yesterday, October 19 dissociated himself from the ongoing strike on grounds that persons with secessionist tendencies have infiltrated the ranks of the lawyers.

He said judging from the way the strike is going, it will take the Common Law Lawyers to nowhere.
His October 13, 2016 appointment by Barrister Nico Halle, President of the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association, came following the resignation of Barrister Harmony Bobga-Mbuton from the position. He resigned in the heart of the lawyers’ strike to attract Government’s attention to their worries.

In a resignation letter dated October 11, 2016 and addressed to the Bar GA President, Barrister Bobga-Mbuton cited circumstances he did not longer find “comfortable to continue to represent a body that works against the interest of lawyers I am expected to serve from my appointive position of your representative for the North West Region and elected leader of the North West Lawyers’ Association…”
“I can only thank Barrister Bobga for the services he has rendered to the Bar as my representative in the North West Region since he was appointed one and a half years ago. We thank him for the services he has rendered to the Bar; much is still expected from him...,” Nico Halle had said.

Ngek said he granted the press conference on his personal behalf.

The Sun Newspaper

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