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Justice Inglis: Pioneer Of Cameroon Judicial System 

By Walter Wilson Nana

Oliver Michael Inglis began his career as a Barrister-at-Law in one of the four British Law Associations christened Grays Inn. It still exists in England. Though he is a Lawyer, Inglis, over time, became a Judge in Cameroon. While his application for naturalisation, as a Cameroonian, was granted by a Presidential Decree in 1992, Inglis had been working and living in Cameroon since September 1962.

Born September 30, 1932, in St. Lucia, one of the Caribbean Islands, Inglis came to Cameroon on the request of the then West Cameroon government. He told this reporter how it happened. "In December 1961, a young Lawyer in England, I saw an advert in The British Telegraph, requesting lawyers for West Cameroon. The advert was signed by P.L.U Cross, the then Attorney General of West Cameroon and E.T Egbe, the then Deputy Minister of Justice in the Federal government of Cameroon in Yaounde. Cross hailed from Trinidad & Tobago.

He and Egbe came to England. I called the numbers carried by the advert, subsequently met Egbe in his hotel, filed in my application, which he received. After a few months, they wrote back to me asking if I will be glad to pick up the job of a Clerk in the then West Cameroon House of Assembly. As a young man, excited, to see the rest of the world, I accepted and in September 1962, I arrived in Cameroon via the then Tiko Airport." Inglis was received at the airport by late P.M Kale, then Speaker of West Cameroon House of Assembly. "I learnt a lot from P. M Kale," Inglis noted.

Serving as clerk of West Cameroon House of Assembly, Inglis had amongst others the task of managing meetings, serving as secretary of the committees of the House and will later on be made the Electoral Officer. As the Secretary of the House of Assembly, Inglis was a member of the government of West Cameroon, as a contract officer with West Cameroon government, renewable every two years. Along the line, the Lawyer became the Chair of the Commission of Lands and Survey.

Six years as a Clerk, a Presidential Decree from Ahmadou Ahidjo, then President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, in 1968, appointed Barrister Inglis Legal Adviser to the West Cameroon government. Now, he was on secondment, as adviser to the Prime Minister, PM, of West Cameroon, who, at the time was Augustin Ngom Jua. In reaction to his appointment, PM Jua told Inglis; "I won’t have it", meaning, as Inglis explained to this reporter, – he (Jua) will not entertain him (Inglis) as his legal adviser. Not long afterwards, Jua was replaced as PM by Solomon Tandeng Muna.

In 1971, Inglis was transferred to the Legal Department as Prosecutor and in 1972, the Federal system of governance in Cameroon ceased to exist. Inglis was redeployed to Bamenda as member of the Court of Appeal and High Court. Another Presidential Decree appointed Inglis in 1975 as President of the High Court of Buea. In 1982, a new Presidential Decree made Inglis member of the Drafting Commission of the Penal Procedure Code.

In 1985, Inglis will, in circumstances he described as having been manipulated, be moved to Bamenda as Second Assistant State Counsel. Still in 1985, he was re-appointed First Assistant to the Procureur General (Chief Prosecutor) of Bamenda. While in Bamenda, in 1986, Inglis was sent to the Court of Appeal. Inglis would later be retired from government in 1992, and will move to Buea, where he has been living so far.

With his newfound Cameroonian nationality, Inglis applied to be a member of the Cameroonian Bar Association. It was granted. Retired but not tired, Barrister Inglis has been practising at his Inglis Law Chambers situated at Bunduma, Buea. He is not married and has no biological children. Asked why, he reflected for some seconds and replied to your reporter; "It is a family problem between my mother and my father…Let’s not talk about it…"

Inglis was born to a British Colonial Army Officer named James Duncan Inglis. He served the British army in the Islands of St. Lucia and Dominican respectively. Justice Inglis’ mother came from another Caribbean Island, Martinique. She is called Mathilde Chery. Inglis did his primary education at a Methodist School in Castries, the capital of St. Lucia. From there, he got admission to a Catholic secondary and high school, St. Mary’s College, still in Castries. At 19, he flew to England, where he registered as a member of Grays Inn in 1950.

While at Grays Inn, he passed the Bar Finals and automatically became a Barrister in 1954, where he continued to practice at the Customary, Magistrate Courts, where he learnt a lot about the law and how to present a case in court. He has four sisters (two in Canada and another two in St. Lucia) and a brother in Canada. They are all married and have children. "I usually go visiting my sisters and brother in Canada and St. Lucia," he revealed.

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