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Ahead of Bar Council Elections: ‘New Generation Lawyers’ ‘Exclude’ Incumbent Bar President 

By Jean Marie Ngong Song & Chris Mbunwe

The ‘New Generation Advocates’ in the Northwest Region have presented their candidates for the 2015 Bar elections. Barristers Henry Kemende, Eric Mbah Mbah, and Hiram Umenjoh were presented to the press as the candidates of the new generation advocates during a meeting in Bamenda Friday, January 9, at Dreamland Restaurant that brought together close to a hundred lawyers who sympathize with the cause of new generation. Speaking to the press immediately after the conclave, Barrister kemende on behalf of the advocates who is fluctuating between the old generation and the new generation said the meeting was to officially present their candidates to the advocate population for the Bar election billed for January 31, in the Region and other candidates from other Regions to witness and take the message of the New Generation to other Regions so that as they meet in Yaoundé for elections, exchange voting can constitute the fifteen candidates needed for the bar elections. “New Generation Advocate” does not mean young generation but matters of ideology which is to have a say with regards to the matters that concern the Bar. Gone are the days when others decided for us. Each time there was an election, they were shipped to Yaoundé, caged in a hotel and told who to vote. Time has come for them to know their candidates and vote according to their consciences, said Barrister Kemende. He said that they are not satisfied with the affairs of the Bar association.

Barrister Sama
Incumbent Bar President, Barrister Francis Sama speaks to the press

Barrister Jacobs Ateh, one of the proponents of the “New Generation Advocates” on his part chronicled the genealogy of the association as one which was born out of the frustrations of Advocates who are dissatisfied with the way the institutions of the Bar are managed by those who man them.

 “We are witnesses to situations wherein the Bar remains silent on issues of the society, even those affecting the Bar. The law on anti-terrorism has come with great expectations on the Bar to say something, yet, they are silent. The Civil Code that touches on the Anglophones is pending, but the Bar is silent. The situation of Notaries being appointed almost came to pass if the Northwest lawyers didn’t storm Yaoundé for a pronouncement to be made. The Bar was silent.

“The relationship between Lawyers and Magistrates keeps degenerating to a situation where Magistrates keep Lawyers in court from 8am to midday, just for a Magistrate to enter the courtroom and say ‘matters adjourned’ and the Bar is silent. We have to fight and assert the independence of the Bar.

“When you find a Bar that is silent about societal and professional issues, it is only the “New Generation” that can take the Bar to the desired level and we strongly believe that the old generation of the Bar has failed the aspirations of the “New Generation  Advocates”, added Jacobs Ateh.

On his part, Barrister Umenjoh, one of the candidates of the “New Generation”, reiterated that they are out to change and reform the Bar to be more effective and to have a voice in everything that affects national life.

“The Northwest is disappointed in the leadership of the Bar in the Region; he practises dictatorship and dictates to the other members of the Bar, threatening disbarment, looking at us like his children rather than his colleagues”.

Three weeks away from the polls, the politicking pendulum in the Bar in the Northwest is expected to heighten as he who dictates and have ruled to the dissatisfaction of the “New Generation” will be expected to make frantic efforts to match those of the “New Generation” as well as the incumbent Bar President who hails from the same Region.

 Barrister Jacob Ateh further told The Post that the candidates presented were those, “We deem as fit to run for any post when the elections come up.”

 Asked why the incumbent Bar President, Barrister Francis Sama, was not on the list, he replied that Sama had the right to still run for elections and that no one has been barred from taking part in the exercise.

“We don’t have any problem with the incumbent Bar President”, Ateh noted.

He added that the “New Generation Lawyers Association” that cuts across Cameroon was born out of frustration, because major issues affecting the lives of Cameroonians were not adequately articulated by the Bar Association.

“How can the Bar Association, which the common man looks up to, be silent on issues such as corruption, homosexuality, terrorism, election rigging and more? These are issues we expect the new blood we are injecting to handle, as soon as they assume office.”

Talking about membership, Barrister Ateh said, the Friday meeting was attended by six advocates representing other Regions of Cameroon.

Barrister Ateh stressed that the “New Generation Lawyers Association” does not purport to represent the Northwest Region.

It should be recalled that, earlier in the week, Barristers Anthony Amazee, Peter Asongwe and a host of other Advocates made frantic efforts to bring the newly created association to come out with a unique list for the Northwest Region including the name of the incumbent Bar President to no avail.

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