Tuesday, October 20, 2020
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Mbella Moki Narrates Ordeal With Police 

What actually happened?

I was in the office and at about 4 pm, I got calls that my workers in the field were under attack at Mile 17. I and my first deputy quickly rushed to the scene. When I got there, I asked the people why they had to abuse my leniency by attacking my workers. They told me it was a scuffle between bendskins (motorcyclists) and some of my workers and that some other elements around the park also participated.

While I was completing the exercise, two of the guys attacked me. I called the police officers who were on patrol and told them to arrest those two guys who were disturbing so that we can have some peace. The police officers did; they took the guys to the station. It was then that the Police Commissioner became aggressive; looking very drunk with a bottle of beer in his hand and announced that he had a gun in his bag. I told the police officer to examine the venue in which he was drinking and the kind of things he was uttering. I told him it would be safe for him to leave the place but he quickly punched me on my jaw. But thank God I was composed and left the place.

I phoned his bosses and told them what was happening, asking them to come and take their colleague out of the place because tempers were already rising. Just as I was talking to his boss away from the scene of the incident, I noticed that a group had attacked him. I stopped the conversation and went and took the policeman away from the crowd. I was pleading taxi drivers to take us along but they refused.

While we were at the roundabout, some elements of the police force came to rescue him. I then ordered everybody who was not connected to the incident to enter my car and leave the place. I also asked the Assistant to the Central Police Commissioner to convey me to the police station so that we could see what was happening there. At the police station, in the Assistant Regional Delegate’s office, we were all asked to make statements, which we did. The said Police Commissioner was so arrogant even to his own bosses and exhibited signs of drunkenness.

His boss was so angry and lambasted him in front of all us; questioned what image he was giving to the police force. As all of this was going on, the Regional Delegate for National Security came and asked us to move into his office, where he told us that the SDO was taking over the case. While we were still making statements, the police officers who were around went down to Mile 17 and rallied some of those who were concerned to come and make their statements.

I don’t have any judgement on the matter, but I would like justice to take its course and the truth should finally prevail. I feel so hurt and disturbed that the police force that is supposed to provide security for people and property is instead a threat to the people it is called upon to protect. The police officer himself testified in front of the Assistant Regional Delegate for Security and never said I had anything to do with him.

There are allegations that you actually started the fight…

To be sincere, I had no confrontation with the officer. There were people there who would testify that I was trying to discuss with him, when all of a sudden he hit me. And I did not retaliate.

It is alleged that you were arbitrarily arresting people and you also gave orders that business premises at the bus stop be closed…

I have an administrative order which I had given them; a deadline to close up and have their businesses implanted within the park. I reminded them of it and that was the order I was giving.

If they are honest, they will tell you that I warned them to respect the administrative orders and that it is out of some particular concern that I had for them that they continued to operate there up till now. If you ask the owners of the place; Jean Jeannot and Musango Bus Service, they will tell you that we had warned them. I don’t think we were arresting people. We were simply taking measures to ensure order, but if those who were supposed to assist us went out of their way, arresting and locking up people, then we regret that they must have over done it.   

You actually removed your coat, giving the impression that you were spoiling for a fight?

It was not for a fight, I needed to feel relaxed because the atmosphere was tense and I was talking to a mammoth crowd so it was not easy for me to be in my coat and do that. I was still the Mayor of the town; I could not have gone that far.

What about the council workers who were said to have manhandled the Commissioner?

I don’t know which council workers manhandled the Commissioner; there was a huge crowd. I am still trying to know which one of them did what and on who.

You say the Commissioner assaulted you, what steps are you going to take?

I want all the measures that are available to the administration to be exhausted; there is a way to look at it administratively.

Aren’t you going to sue him?

I am not thinking about that now; it is what I may not like to do.

You were with your lawyer at the police station yesterday…

Oh, yes, I had my lawyer there, Mr. John Kamanyi; he was also harassed by Police Commissioners. It is a pity that the people we expect to respect particular institutions instead decided to trample on the said institutions and give their professions a bad name.

It seems the relationship between the police and the council is not cordial…

I don’t know whether we have had any skirmishes at any time. I have enjoyed a good relationship with the police authorities and their elements. I have respect for them, they are a symbol of the state which must be respected by everyone and it is for the purpose of that respect that I decided to exercise restrain and go away with the jab I received from the Police Commissioner.

You said you are trying to clean the town of clandestine drivers. How far have you gone?

We have instituted a policy of dialogue with those who are concerned. It is true that bendskins have been authorised to operate but their area of operation is defined by the law; which does not require them to operate within urban centres, but they have been stubborn.

They have no respect for rules and regulations and we have registered a few deaths within the municipality that are not typical of Buea. We took measures and we have been talking with them. The clandestine drivers are a threat to the tax payers of the transport sector, who are operating legally at the bus stop. The bus stop is a source of livelihood to over a thousand people in our municipality. It is a hub for commercial activities which we are trying to develop. But today, it is under serious threat from clandestine drivers.

Why is it so hard to stop clandestine drivers from operating?

I have found out that some officials like the Assistant Central Police Commissioner, was stationed at that point by clandestine drivers and he uses his position as a Commissioner to be loading illegally outside the park, while intimidating the park officials to allow the clandestine drivers to go Scot-free. We cannot fold our hands, we complained about this to their hierarchy and the administration. We are following it up. We hope that reason is going to prevail. We need peace, order and cohesion in every operation that is taking place within our municipality.