President Paul Biya has ordered an end to all judicial proceedings against Ayah Paul Abine, Felix Agbor Kongho, Fontem Agborteka Neba and other detainees arrested in relation to on-going crisis in the North West and South West regions.
The decision contained in a release signed August 30 by Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, Secretary General at the Presidency paves the way for the liberation of so-called Anglophone leaders and closed to one hundred English-speaking Cameroonians facing trial at the Yaounde Military Tribunal.
The release however notes that government will not spare persons trying to use the political protests to tamper with the country’s future. It says the decision falls in line with other decisions taken by government in view of putting an end to the on-going protests.
It should be recalled that some of the detainees were arrested in December 2016 while the leaders and supposed instigators of the protests were picked up in January 2017 and later.
Several journalists were also arrested in Buea and Bamenda and are currently gnashing their teeth in the Kondengui prison in Yaounde. Others were arrested in Bamenda earlier this month.
Observers are questioning what becomes of detainees held in prisons in the North West and South West regions, given that the presidential decision talks about the Yaounde military tribunal only. Others are also questioning whether or not, protest leaders and other Anglophones who went on self-exile would be arrested if they return.
CRTV’s John Mbah AKuroh, is one of many English-speaking Cameroonians who went on self-exile when government started arresting protesters. He said of the presidential decree: I have just heard the news read on CRTV (state TV) that President Paul Biya has ordered the ‘discontinuance of proceedings’ against Balla and co. I just want to ask, why is this coming from a president, in a land that claims to be the land of laws? Do we need any more proof that these individuals were being held illegally? Whilst I applaud this move by Biya, I must posit that it comes a little too late into the game. It is like putting Messi (football superstar of Barcelona FC) in a game with 1min left and Barcelona FC is down 10 goals! The Courts should be the ones to find that Balla and co committed no crime at all. And should pay up for having held them illegally for nearly a year.
The presidential decision comes after several local and international institutions and peace advocates had called on government to release Anglophone detainees as a sign of good faith to end the crisis.