The Colbert Factor
This reflection is inspired by the fact that the originating Summons filed at the Bamenda High Court urging the Court to interpret the law as to whether by not holding the General Assembly was not a violation of the law, is one step positive at helping to develop the law and by extension, also helping in reinforcing the rule of law in Cameroon. Yet, no right thinking Cameroonian can negotiate the next corner without shaking the scent of something wrong.
It is the more informed by the fact that by introducing the Summons at such a time when the two English speaking Regions of Cameroon are cut off from the rest of the world by gun battle and when fellow brothers and sisters are experiencing the darkest hour in their history is, to say the list, not only unfortunate but anathema.
It is also inspired by the fact that introducing a Summons touching on the very personality of a celebrated international human rights defender and peace crusader of uncommon compare like Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, him who has since the outbreak of the Anglophone crisis been putting in the extra energy and extra hour shuttling between Yaoundé and the Anglophone Regions to see that an acceptable solution is found to the crisis, smacks of a strange scent hanging faintly in the air. It is also indicative of obscurantist forces drumming in nearby bushes.
Point is, although I disagree with Barrister Acha Collins’s decision to seek interpretation of laws governing the convening of the Bar Council’s General Assembly in the courts, I defend to the last iota of my blood his right to exercise his right to freedom of expression.
My worry only comes from the fact that given the mounting challenges Anglophones are facing as a people today, bringing up such a case is like treating the trivial as the sublime. With familiar streets and neighborhoods in Anglophone Cameroon becoming frogs- shrouded death traps, with innocent peace loving Anglophones haunted in their sleep, and with women, children, the elderly and the disabled invaded in their homes by both rampaging Cameroon military and marauding “Amba” fighters, trying to distract a peace crusader like Ntumfor Nico Halle, who since the beginning of this crisis has been burning the midnight candle and squandering hard earned personal resources preaching peace and urging authorities in Yaoundé to see reason in the Common Law Lawyers and teachers demands, is again anathema.
Would Common Law Lawyers who, only two years ago were raised to the high heavens as veritable agents of social change be the very ones to turn around and drag their new found image in mud just because a law needs to be interpreted? By the way, does the law on holding General Assemblies of the Cameroon Bar need interpretation when its internal rules are clear on what to do when one is not called? Was it necessary to head straight to the courts when there are already led down avenues including the fact that if it came to litigation, only the Mfoundi High Court was competent in entertaining such matters?
Be that as it may, could it not have made sense for the Barrister in question to challenge the President of the Bar Council, Ngnie Kamga rather than the General Assembly President, Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, for so far failing to use his good offices to force government to quickly resolve the Anglophone crisis so that business returns to normal both for lawyers and ordinary citizens?
Is the need for Anglophone lawyers to bind together against unknown and known threats not now more than ever? Given that at such trying and difficult moments, enemies imagined and unimagined can hang unto anything to steer the nest, good conscience demands that the tough questions on purpose be posed.
Given that it is also in crisis moments such as this that creativity and imagination is unleashed, little hitherto known Acha Collins and his band have been inspired to draw from reserves of strength, courage, and humanity they never knew they had, to challenge a colossus and acclaimed humanist. That he scores a point and waters the development of law in Cameroon by daring to cease the court is no gainsaying the fact. Epic in scope, and sparingly intimate in perspective, the law suit could become an adventure story like no other and capable of bringing Apocalypse to Main Street. On the other hand, the law suit could also offer yet another unique opportunity to Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, one of Cameroon’s most original and mesmerizing peace crusaders at the pinnacle of his powers, to showcase unequalled and sophisticated leadership qualities.
Like Dean Koontz, the famous novelist who said of his friend gone wayward, ‘his three virtues guaranteed him Heaven and so the bad feet could be overlooked,’ Ntumfor would do well to take the same line of action. It could not be otherwise given that Ntumfor is one of those rare Cameroonians who has been blessed with an absolutely clear view of himself. Although he likes being serviceable and an undisputable crusader for peace, he does not need any of that to tell him who he is.
And what if Barrister Acha Collins was right? Or, better still, what if Ntumfor Nico Halle was wrong? Put differently, what if Barrister Collins is right for the wrong reasons and Barrister Ntumfor is wrong for the right reasons? Can a General Assembly President, talk less of Ntumfor’s calibre, be charged for incompetence when he is not even remotely concerned with the day to day running of the Bar? Can failure to hold a General Assembly under the circumstances that all lawyers and Cameroonians know be termed incompetence? Now that the role of the President of the General Assembly is to convene and chair GA meetings, not running the Bar Council, and now that the GA President has sufficiently explained that the non-holding has been due to ‘force majeur’, does one need to continue to belabor the point? If a majority of lawyers in Cameroon feel that the Ntumfor led team does not want to leave power, why can’t they just go ahead and mobilize absolute majority of their colleagues and force the holding of the GA as stipulated in the bylaws? Come to think of the fact that it has been thanks to Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle’s interventions that past sits tied Bar Council Presidents have been dislodged.
Come to think of the fact that although the law gives him the right to run for a second mandate, he was fast to declare upon taking up office that he was not going to take a second mandate. Come to think of the fact that by the close of 2016, beginning 2017, he had already started consultations for the holding of the elective General Assembly that would have seen him transfer power to the next leader, but for the fact that while francophone lawyers turned down any possibility of traveling to Anglophone Cameroon for the GA, Anglophone lawyers were the more reluctant to travel to francophone Cameroon for same. All raised security concerns as underlying reasons.
Although even if a Bar Council GA was to be convened then or now, the one thing certain would be that a quorum would not be formed.
Dragging Cameroon Bar officials to court is like treating the trivial as if it were the sublime. Granted, and given that it is the President of the Bar Council that directs the national life of the Bar on a daily basis, and that there is this unwritten law that each time the GA President is Anglophone, the Bar Council President is francophone, and vice versa, some Anglophones now think if elections were organized and the GA President goes to a francophone while the Bar Council Presidency rotates over to an Anglophone, it could be used to push the Anglophone agenda further.
But such an argument comes limping especially when it is recorded for a fact that as GA President, Ntumfor Nico Halle has used his towering nature and outstanding credibility to bring real pressure to bear on Yaoundé authorities, as well as continue to do so.
Was it not his robust interventions that led to the translation of the OHADA uniform Acts into English? Was it not his robust contributions during the Yaoundé Ad Hoc Committee meetings that finally led to government giving in to transferring francophone judges away from Common Law jurisdictions, the creation of a Common Law Department in ENAM, the Supreme Court and others? Is it not still Ntumfor shuttling on a daily basis between the Northwest and Southwest Regions begging for peace? Is it not the same Ntumfor doing what he must do, and knows how to do best, by urging President Biya to grant general amnesty to all arrested or forced to disappear in connection with the Anglophone crisis?
Is it not still the same man reaching out to the wounded and hospitalized as well the thousands displaced with the much needed humanitarian assistance? How soon do people forget that the time being put in by Ntumfor in advocating for an open, inclusive, frank and genuine dialogue forum that should probably take the form of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission is, to say the least, immeasurable? Does bringing such a law suit at such a critical moment when Anglophones are experiencing that darkest moments in their lives and when Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle is putting in the extra hour and extra energy to see that a lasting solution is found for life to return to normal in this once peaceful nation, not a distraction and an attempt to destabilize the very incarnation of the Bar Association?
For all I know, the media in Cameroon, which is the court of public opinion, would not idly sit by and watch yet another symbol of nationhood get destabilized. It is not surprising to me when I receive strong signal from mainstream media across Cameroon and awards winning investigative journalists indicating that in the days ahead they would be zeroing in on the role played by all the members of the cabal, be it in Bamenda, Buea, and Douala.
The Muteff Boy’s Take