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Wrangling Rocks Cameroon Bar Association After Strike 

By Chris Mbunwe & Bouddih Adams

common-law-lawyersAfter what has been described as a successful strike action, the Cameroon Bar Association is boiling with smaller caucuses within the corps trading accusations and insults and threatening to break off.


Anglophone Lawyers To Disown Bar

Members of the Common Law Lawyers have begun mobilising to massively pull out from the Cameroon Bar Association. They are threatening to disown the Bar Association.

On Tuesday, October 11, the Anglophone lawyers had organised a peaceful demonstration in front of the Northwest Court of Appeal.
According to the lawyers, if President Paul Biya continues to snub their ultimatum, they would be left with no option than to secede from the Common Bar Association and create their own.

“We have sensitised ourselves sufficiently enough on our facebook, Whatsapp group exchanges and at our monthly gatherings. So, we are more than ripe to stand on our own. Belonging to a Bar Council, where our interest is not protected is rubbish.

“The first kicker is that we as Anglophone lawyers will boycott any elective or General Assembly convened by whosoever. This move is to demonstrate total support to the cause,” said Barrister Andang, who rated the on-going strike at 100 percent.

“Even to take dates, no lawyer has entered any court room. The magistrates and litigants are becoming aware of our seriousness,” Andang said.

Speaking during a press briefing, the President of the Northwest Common Law Lawyers, Association, NOWELA, Barrister Harmony Bobga Mbuton, Attorney-at-law and human rights consultant, reiterated that for the matter to be laid to rest once and for all, President Biya must redeploy all civil law magistrates to civil law jurisdictions, and transfer all common law magistrates to common law jurisdictions as well as set up a commission on erosion of common law.

Bobga described the recent act of government in transferring civil law magistrates to common law jurisdictions as total assimilation into civil law of “our Common Law, which cannot be tolerated.”

The dangers of flooding the Anglophone magistrates, the NOWELA President stated, is affecting the dispensing of justice, “because the litigants here are mostly English-speaking and the magistrates do not master that language to appreciate properly the matter in front of them, he said as much.”

“What are nine Francophone magistrates doing in Wum Court? They are under-utilised.

That is what pushes me to think that the performance of the judiciary in Cameroon is less than 20 percent,” Barrister Bobga asserted.

Bobga advocates for a peaceful approach to resolve the OHADA text and other problems, else the situation will soon explode.

Bar Association Dissociates From Strike

Meantime, the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association has, in a circular signed by Barrister John Kameni Sichui, on behalf of the President of the General Assembly, Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, appealed to lawyers to ignore the strike action and resume court business.

The circular, which The Post stumbled on, was dated October 11, 2016.
The circular reads:

“The General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association is in consonance with the letter addressed to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministers of the OHADA Council by the Cameroon Bar Council and calls on all lawyers to respect this step taken and stay calm.

The General Assembly also dissociates itself officially with whatever strike action called in relation to this matter.

Cameroonian lawyers are respectful of the institution of the BAR; and as a united Bar, same are expected of all lawyers over the Republic of Cameroon.

The current strike action has nothing to do with the Cameroon Bar Association as all measures to address the issues stated are being addressed by Hierarchy.

The General Assembly hereby calls on all lawyers to resume to their daily activities and maintain restraint to all forms of distractions and provocations.

The Hierarchy of the courts has been informed of the situation and that no preference be given to any advocate who refuses to enter appearance for any reason but for one coming from the Cameroon Bar Association.

The President of the General Assembly also announces to all that he is out of a meeting with the Minister of State of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, who reassured him of Government action towards ensuring the effective translation of all international instruments in both French and English. especially OHADA.

The President of the General Assembly also makes it clear and unequivocal that the Cameroon Bar Association is for a united Bar and Country and therefore dissociates itself from any call of transferring any Cameroonian to particular regions with respect to their language as Cameroon is a United, Bilingual and Bi-cultural State.

He calls on all advocates who advocate for the respect of constituent authority to use this opportunity to exercise and practice such respect.

Finally, the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar calls for caution, discipline and respect for our national elected officials.”

Northwest PGA’s Representative Resigns

Reacting to the circular, the President of Northwest Lawyers Association, Barrister Bobga resigned as Northwest Regional Representative of the President of the Cameroon Bar Association.

The letter of resignation states:

“I have just received the release by your representative of Fako Division, Barrister John Kameni of Buea who today issued a communiqué to the effect that the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association distances itself from the ongoing strike action of Common Law Lawyers following government’s snub of their complaints since May 9, 2015, followed by several reminders.

I also note that neither the Bar Council nor your office has officially and specifically addressed the issues of concern of the Cameroon Common Law Lawyers since our inaugural conference of Bamenda in May 2015. This disposition of the principal organs of the Bar towards the Common Law Lawyers plight which compliments Government’s attitude towards us, shuts the door to dialogue.

I have concerted with my colleagues, the leaders of the constituent sister associations: Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA), Manyu Lawyers’ Association (MALA), and Meme Lawyers Association (MELA), we came to a consensus that Barrister John Kameni’s communiqué issued on your instruction which we concluded is offensive to our case.

In the above circumstances, I am no longer comfortable to continue to represent a body that works against the interest of lawyers I am expected to serve from my appointive position of your Representative to the Northwest Region and the elected leader of the Northwest Lawyers’ Association.

Should you retract the communiqué that has prompted my resignation and commit to immediately respond officially to the complaints of the Common Lawyers, I will be disposed to opening up for dialogue without resuming the office from which I have just resigned.”

PGA Meets Minister Over OHADA Law English Version

However, as we went to press, another circular came round, yet from Barrister Kameni, signed: “For the PGA”, titled; “Official Communiqué”, read:

“The President of the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association, upon travelling to Yaounde to meet the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, to discuss the salient issues on the translation of the OHADA Uniform Act, announces to all lawyers that he is in total negotiations with the Minister… for the effective translation of the OHADA Uniform Act.

He also makes it clear that the Minister of State has immediately redynamised his technical staff to accelerate and come out with the translated version of the OHADA Uniform Act as soon as possible.”

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