The Google Ambassador to Cameroon, Nya Check, and another Google Developer in Cameroon, Isaac Kamga,
alongside thirteen arrested members of the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, who have been in custody for close to two weeks, were on Wednesday July 27,charged with violation of section 231 of the Cameroon Penal code. The code deals with offences of public peace, notably; “unlawful public meetings and processions.”
“Whoever takes part in the organization of any public meeting which has not been the subject of a prior declaration…shall be punished with imprisonment for from 15 (fifteen) days to 6 (six) months and with a fine of from CFAF 5,000 (five thousand) to CFAF 100,000 (one hundred thousand). The code reads. All the 15 pleaded not guilty to the charge levied against them.
The defense counsel for the 15, after referring the court to section 7 of the African Charter on Human Rights which is ratified by Cameroon, he called on the release of the accused for lack of concrete evidence against them. He asked that the accused persons be released on bail and be made to attend subsequent trials from their homes. He argued that if they are kept in custody, it will contradict the fact that they are free, since they are yet to be proven guilty.
The presiding magistrate, Justice Ntuba Beatrice, of the Buea Court of First Instance, noted that due to the complexity of the matter, she had to make a request for two more judges to be added to the panel so as to aid in the delivery of the verdict.
To the surprise of almost no one, she denied the accused bail. They will have to remain in custody until August 17, the date scheduled for second hearing.
The court hall and veranda were jam-packed with activists of the SCNC, family members and friends as well as sympathizers and observers who came to witness the trial.
As KarawaDiary learnt from The CameroonJournal after the trial, a staunch SCNC activist who asked not to be named for fear of victimization explained that they are accusing them of ‘planning’ an ‘SCNC meeting.’
The outspoken man added: “They simply went to a restaurant to eat and before they even started eating, they were bundled and detained alongside the food they were served.”
It should be recalled that the arrest of the activists took place on Sunday July 17, after judicial police elements in Buea whisked them off a restaurant in Molyko.
A majority of those arrested are youths in their early thirties who were said to be about to organize a conclave, KarawaDiary learnt from The CameroonJournal.
“The case is registered as Suit No CFIB/206F/2016 in the Court of First Instance, Buea. The alleged offense is a bailable offense that if proven would carry a sentence of 6 months imprisonment” counsel for the accused, barrister Blaise Sevidzem Berinyuy, said after the session.
KarawaDiary learnt that the barrister said
in an email: “The case was called up today and our people were charged for unlawful assembly under S.231 of the Penal Code. The Defense Team was led by Senior Bar Council member Barrister Njualem Charles and included Barristers Eboa Ehabe, Nkea Emmanuel, Njilla Stephen, Keme Nicholas, Lekunze Benvolio, Lawrence Lyonga, James Enu, Obi Ayuk as well as AITs Evanjo Abel and Kenneth Ngwabo. All pleas and arguments for the court to grant bail to the detainees amongst whom is Chief Ekane Ivoson of Bangem and blind man Mukete Ngoe as well as university students who are supposed to be writing exams fell on hard rock as the presiding judge Beatrice Nambangi ruled denying bail and adjourning the matter to the 17th August 2016 for hearing before a Court Panel.
They are being detained for intending to hold a meeting that never took place. They were still looking for food to eat before going to the meeting venue when the police swooped on them.”