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The Sorrow Of Fru Ndi Or The Cuffed Hands Of Cameroon’s Justice 

By Peterkins Manyong

SDF Chairman John Fru Ndi is a charismatic politician. So charismatic that the political history of Cameroon since 1990 has been a history of attempts by the Biya regime to diabolize him and discredit his party.

In 1990, Fru Ndi was accused of "importing" 10,000 Nigerians and hoisting the Nigerian flag and causing chaos. State radio and television, CRTV, even claimed he had escaped to Nigeria. Even worse than the regime are the Chairman’s loyalists.

Fru Ndi, like Biya, has the unfortunate habit of trusting without cross-checking. He easily takes mere form for substance and makes assumptions where he should have launched an inquiry. The Diboule Murder Case is a perfect example. Fru Ndi need not be in the quagmire where he finds himself today. The reasons are simple.

Fru Ndi had a landslide victory over Ben Muna in the election to choose the SDF candidate for the 2004 Presidential elections, thus proving his political supremacy over his challenger. Why then did Mbah Ndam and Yoyo instil so much fear in Fru Ndi when Muna expressed his intention to challenge the Chairman in the election for the post of Party Chairman? They wanted the whole world to know that they were the Party’s kingmakers. Mbah Ndam, like a Turk, also didn’t want a fellow Momo brother near the throne.

It is worthy of note here that newly acquired party militancy is like a new marriage. The couple, while contracting such a marriage, readily promises each other constancy (for better or for worse) thinking that as things are rosy, they will continue so. Yoyo, who joined the SDF in 1994 after the political hurricane that followed the party’s launching, didn’t foresee the consequences of his overzealousness. It was he who championed the campaigns against Muna at NEC and later shifted the battleground to the CRTV morning programme, "Morning Safari".

Yoyo’s excessive enthusiasm was later demonstrated by the suggestion (backed by Mbah Ndam) that the Party’s constitution be revised, giving more powers to the Chairman. It was the same Yoyo who advocated for the appointment of mayors in councils won by the SDF. Yoyo erroneously thought he would remain an MP as long as Fru Ndi backed him. But in 2007, the electorate wisely overturned what Ntarinkon had decided and gave the Parliamentary victory to little known Musa Njingum.

Authority, Alfred Tennyson tells us, "forgets a dying king". Yoyo discovered the truth of this observation when NEC rejected his plea that his puppet, Stephen Tikanjoh, the not quite performing Mayor of Babessi Council in Ngoketunjia, be appointed. According to reliable information, the former questor and his wife had "pocketed" the Mayor and practically executed all contracts in the council. But that is not the worst part of the story. Yoyo’s intransigence on the matter gave the Mayors of Nkambe, Ndu, Njinikom and Bafoussam 1 the justification they needed to flout the quit decision of Fru Ndi and NEC.

The Diboule Case

Power is sweet. People in office understand the degree of sweetness far better than those who are not. That is why Biya and his cohorts are ready to break all available rules to keep it. The Diboule case presents a perfect example. Whereas the regime let go "Operation Storm Yaounde" in 1998 and a similar use of force to discipline SDF dissidents in Sop, Jakiri, in 2000, the incident that took place on May 26, 2006 at the Yaounde SDF Secretariat, is too important to ignore.

One of the most unsavoury things about the average Cameroonian is that he/she behaves like a dull school child who, even after the teacher has drawn a picture after a lecture on feathered bipeds, would not understand until he labels the picture "This Is A Bird".Since the Diboule murder trial began, the Mfoundi High Court handling it has indicated that it is determined to find Fru Ndi guilty. Otherwise, why is the judge, Gilbert Shlick, determined to pass a judgment relying on documents not presented and debated on in open court?

The judge’s file even contains some documents earlier rejected by the court. So ridiculous is this that even Innocent Bonu, a prosecution lawyer, has cried out against it. This brings to mind the kangaroo trial of SCNC activists accused of carrying out the 1997 terrorist attacks that took place in some parts of the Northwest. Most of the detainees were finally imprisoned without proof that any theft or murder was committed. The very fact that the verdict was passed at midnight suggests just how sinister was the nature of the trial.

Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to have been done. It is one thing arguing that those who engaged Ben Muna’s supporters at the Yaounde SDF secretariat and quite another proving that the SDF Chairman sent his vanguards there to kill. If, as it is being rumoured, the court intends to use text messages and recorded conversations centred on communication between Fru Ndi and collaborators, as evidence, there are two implications. The first is that the state is spying on its citizens and that would place the Biya regime on the same pedestal as  the KGB of the defunct Soviet Union, the Gestapo of Ceceseau’s Roumania or the Ton ton Macoute of Haiti.

The second implication is that our telecommunication network can’t be trusted and the company or those companies that collaborated should be prosecuted. It is only when an individual’s activities threaten the security of the state that such a method can be used. Fru Ndi’s crime is that he may challenge Biya at the 2011 Presidential polls. What took place at the Yaounde SDF secretariat was not a treasonable act. The behaviour of the judge in the Diboule Case contradicts the spirit of the new Criminal Procedure Code and this is eloquent proof that he is being tele-guided in the trial.

The Diboule Case is not the only source of headache for the SDF Chairman. The ongoing reorganisation of party’s structures spell disaster for the SDF if not well handled. There is a spirit of silent resistance in the SDF. If Fru Ndi wants to avoid mayhem, let him check his lieutenants who may be tempted to impose candidates on the electorate. If already some officials like Maurice Weriwo, Batibo District Chairman, won the election by preaching change, then the SDF is further away from social democracy than it was in 1990 when it preached the doctrine.

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