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General News of Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Source: Cameroon Journal

Drama at Bar Council assembly

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It took the abrogating skills of Sama Francis, President of the Bar Council, to bring to order a fracas that was swirling up at the Red Cross Hall in Yaoundé, during the elective general assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association held January 31.

Tempers started flaring in the atmosphere following a report presented by outgoing national treasurer. Evidently unsatisfied with the report, a cross section of the lawyers began picking issues with the entire outgoing executive, notably on financial management transparency.

But Sama Francis, the outgoing Bar Council President appeared to be up to task. He put up with the disgruntled lawyers for over one hour, succeeding to weather the storm as he gave tangible responses to all the crucial questions brought up by the lawyers.

The bone of contention revolved around management of the association’s funds. The treasurer had given to understanding that the Bar collected some 600 MFCFA during their tenure. Out of this amount, he said that the association was only left with slightly over 4 MFCFA in its coffers.

Those who protested wanted an explanation as to how out of over 600MFCFA, only a little over 4 MFCFA was left in the association’s coffers.

It was explained by the treasurer that the Bar had procured a piece of land at the Omnisport neighbourhood in Yaoundé at the cost of 235 MFCFA. The headquarters of the Bar, the report said, is expected to be constructed on the secured piece of land.

Sama then reminded his colleagues that the decision to choose the land was that of the General Assembly which empowered him to, together with the Bar representative for the Centre region, obtain a piece of land in the Mfoundi division where the association’s headquarters will be built.

He said the assembly had authorised him to get the land at a maximum cost of 300MFCFA. “But we did everything to secure it at a cheaper cost so as to save the association more money,” he explained.

Other expenses incurred during their tenure, according to the treasurer included expenses on missions abroad by Council members for association’s business, missions within the country, funerals and the organisation of the 2014 session of the Bar exams, among others.

But even so, Sama’s peers continued to raise several other questions. Some of the questions bordered on a claim that Sama had made. But he contended that he wasn’t privy to the treasurer’s report before its publication in which the allegation was gotten.

“I’m just hearing it being read out now like you,” he said. “If you are just hearing it now, whose report is it, the treasurer’s or the council’s? If it is the treasurer’s, where then is the consensual one by the council bureau?” one of the advocates quizzed to know.

To all these, a combat-ready Sama gave careful responses that though did not satisfy everyone attempted a careful measure to nip the turbulent atmosphere that was evident in the hall.

Surreptitiously, Sama in his answers, resorted to ridiculing most of those he judged as intending to embarrass him. For instance, he openly made a grammatical correction on one of his French speaking colleagues who instead of saying “est-ce qu’il est obligatoire de…” rather said “est-ce qu’il est obligé de…”

Sama who was fast to pick the grammatical gaff in his French speaking colleague, quipped; “je suis Anglophone, mais on dit est-ce qu’il est obligatoire et non est-ce qu’il est obligé.”

His retort threw the entire hall into uproar. But as nervous as the ridiculed colleague was, he once more crashed into another scornful feat. Sama again stopped him; “motion of order! My learned colleague, calm down and ask your question as a lawyer. You have been agitating and saying nothing. Pose your worry now as a professional and I’ll answer you.”

Patterning to other questions relating to the day-to-day running of the business of the association, Sama, quoting the association’s standing orders called upon his interrogators to order: “motion of order, this is an elective general assembly and not an ordinary general assembly. Keep those questions for the ordinary general assembly where I hope to address them.”

The fireworks at the general assembly prolonged the session so that deliberations that began at about 4:30 p.m. lasted till late in the evening before paving way for elections that was the big item on the agenda.

Sama who had at the build up to the gathering been vehemently campaigning to be re-elected as President for a second term, surprised his supporters by withdrawing his candidature. (Read our other report “Sama Francis succumbs to pressure.”

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