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General News of Sunday, 19 April 2015

Source: The Median Newspaper

SCNC leader Oben Maxwell denied bail again


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Barristers Ajong Stanislaus and Blaise Sevidzem have maintained that the continued incarceration of their client is a violation of both the Cameroon Constitution and international legal instruments duly ratified by Cameroon.

They made the remark after the Fako High Court judge adjourned the matter yet again, last week.

Lawyers defending frontline SCNC activist, Oben Maxwell Eyong, in the matter pitting him against the state of Cameroon have decried the continued adjournment of the case. Barristers Ajong Stanislaus and Blaise Sevidzem Berinyuy have complained that the adjournment of the hearing last week was one too many; and it came despite their insistence for the trial to go on.

The lawyers noted that the continuous incarceration of Oben Maxwell Eyong is “an abuse of the judicial process by all standards”; it is a violation of not only the Constitution of Cameroon and the Criminal Procedure Code but the various international conventions duly ratified by Cameroon.

Barristers Ajong and Sevidzem maintained that by virtue of section 45 of the Cameroon constitution, duly ratified international conventions take precedence over local legislation.

“Barrister Ajong and myself led the team of lawyers present in Court today, whilst our lone witness for the Defense, Mola Njoh Litumbe, was also present and ready to testify. We insisted to go on with the trial but the court instead adjourned the matter to 16th April 2015. The judge said she had to give the Prosecution more time to bring their witnesses and the 2nd Accused person. Our passionate plea for bail was also refused by the judge,” noted Barrister Blaise Sevidzem, who remarked that Oben Marxwell’s continues stay in custody is a cause for real worry and desperation for his family especially given that he is their sole bread-winner.

Barrister Blaise Sevidzem recalled how Oben was arrested in Buea, in February 2014 with a book titled "Guerrilla Warfare" written by Che Guevara.

“Apparently the government got terrified by the title of the book and feared that Oben might be recruiting guerrillas for an eventual liberation war.”

Oben Maxwell was first charged with "planning to disrupt the celebration of the Reunification 50th anniversary and President Paul Biya's planned visit to Buea" and was remanded in custody at the Buea prison. He was later transfered to Yaounde, Barrister Sevidzem noted.

Following the successful 50th anniversary celebrations and after President Biya had returned to Yaounde, Oben was brought back to Buea and charged before the Military Tribunal with "conspiracy to civil war, Insurrection and Secession", he recalled further.

After hearing the matter, the Military Judge declined jurisdiction for want of sufficient evidence and placed Oben in September 2014, at the disposal of the State Counsel of the Common Law Court for further investigation and prosecution.

Last 24th March 2015 Oben was brought to Court and charged for illegal assembly and justifying secession.

Yet, up till today the Legal Department that brought the matter to court has not served its own witnesses to come to court nor even the 2nd Accused person who was granted bail by them more than a year ago. Oben;s lawyers say the court is using the fact of the absence of these witnesses and the 2nd accused to continue dragging the matter.

It should be noted that SCNC is out-lawed in Cameroon. Yaounde authorities have urged its leaders to renounce their secession stance and register the pressure group as a political party this, so as to enjoy legality. But SCNC diehards have held their grounds, saying they can only register as a political party over their dead bodies. They argue that the Yaounde government is occupying the territory of Southern cameroons illegaly.

With this recalcitrance of the SCNC, Yaounde authorities are sparing no effort in clamping down on its militants.

It should be recalled that only a forthnight ago the Vice-National Chairman of the SCNC, Nfor Ngala Nfor was also arrested in Buea along with some five suspected militants of the separatist movement. They were charged with holding illegal meetings. They were later released pending trial in the law courts.

Recently, the acting SCNC Scribe, Bisong Mathias recalled how the late SCNC chairman, chief Ayamba and 23 others were arrested under ungodly conditions and during unholy hours, in Tiko. They were charged with holding illegal, nucturnal meetings and dragged before the Tiko judge. They only regained their freedom after making 24 appearances in court.

another SCNC front-liner also recalled vividly the case of two staunch militants: Sona Mukete and Voukeng Dongfack Alvine, who have fled to yet unknown destinations after they were tipped that security operatives were trailing them in connection with their activities in the SCNC. He said like Oben Maxwell, the two activists were suspected of circulating seditious tracts and inciting the populations to disrupt the celebrations to mark 50 years of the Reunification in Buea. “Their wherabouts is yet unknown till date,” he said.

Other SCNC sources also claim that many of their militants have fled the country to seek political sanctuary in foreign lands.

With the advent of the new anti-terrorism law, it is feared that more SCNC activists might be arrested and jailed on charges related to terrorism.

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