The Facebook account of Common Law Lawyers wasn’t hacked contrary to allegations that went viral on the platform to that effect. The claims had come from some committed supporters of the movement to restore Southern Cameroons’ sovereignty. This was in reaction to a post by the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CASC), the umbrella organization coordinating the strike actions of Common Law Lawyers and Anglophone teachers stating that the Peaceful Anglophone Walk (PAWA) scheduled for January 2nd, 2017 had been cancelled.
The press release signed by Barrister Nkongho Felix, Fontem Neba and Tassang Wilfred, and dated January 1, reads in part; “We have been intimated that some of the groups involved in the struggle for the return to the 1961 Federation have been infiltrated by agents of the government. Their aim is to lure innocent, unsuspecting, unarmed citizens of West Cameroon to the streets where there will be mass arrests and even summary executions…This will provide a motive for arresting some union leaders and dismantling the Consortium…We are familiar with these uncouth tactics and hereby inform the entire population of West Cameroon that the demonstrations scheduled for Monday 2 January, 2017 have been cancelled…”
The press release goes further to state that “11 February and 20 Maycelebrations are henceforth cancelled in the entire West Cameroon…”
The Cameroon Journal got in touch with the Consortium President, Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla to confirm the veracity of this information given that some West Cameroonians were unsure if it was true. Speaking to CJ, he confirmed that the peaceful walk was called off “on grounds of improper strategizing.” He added that most of the politicians whose names had been published by Tapang Ivo, were not duly consulted and so there was a need to re-strategize before the walk could hold. “We don’t want to be seen as a disorganized people,” he told our reporter by phone. He added that the Walk has only been “suspended” for proper strategizing.
Meanwhile, Mark Bareta who was working with Tapang to organize the January 2nd protests, made a statement acknowledging the short comings regarding the protest organization and clarified skeptics who didn’t think the Consortium press statement cancelling the event was for real. “First and foremost, the letter from the Consortium is legit.” Bareta wrote. “Their account has not been hacked. I have received so many private messages from you guys and I think it is imperative I clear the air.
This is what you should know. The idea of the 2nd January walk was born solely by Tapang Ivo Tanku. Mark Bareta picked it up and from there we started propagating it on social media. The Consortium did not call for this protest. In fact, at no stage were they aware or consulted. I therefore took this initiative after it had made headlines on social media to the Southern Cameroons Youth Front where after much debate, it was approved by the body. You may have read several communiques from this body in line with the 2nd January Walk.
Now, where did the Consortium come in? The Consortium only became interested because there was a huge error made for which we apologize. In the build-up to the 2nd January walk, we wrote down some names of politicians and youth
leaders who could lead the Walk as proposals. We were doing that knowing that we would consult with them before even going public but unfortunately, Tapang made a mistake and published it, though within one minute it was pulled down and deleted from his Facebook page ,social media had already copied and shared. These politicians who were not consulted were embarrassed because they had no idea. The mistake had been done and we apologized. That is why Tapang and I came back and asked for volunteers who could lead and we had many names of those who could lead submitted to us and they are ready. The names of the politicians were all struck off…”
The cancellation of the peaceful walk by the Consortium, however, shocked many people both at home and abroad and has not gone down very well with some Southern Cameroonians accusing the Consortium of taking bribes from the regime. The Consortium has since refuted the allegations and clarified that they will plan properly before the Walk can hold. They have in the meantime, asked that henceforth, 11th February and 20th May cease to be commemorated in the Southern Cameroons.
Worth noting is the fact that the Consortium has grouped both lawyers and teachers of Anglophone extraction who
now speak as one, with a key demand being a return to a two-state federation that existed prior to 1961.
In spite of the cancellation, many Southern Cameroonians are determined to partake in the protest anyways – to brink their anger after President Biya failed to address them directly yesterday in his end-of-year speech. Most Anglophones have taken to social media to castigate Biya’s speech, saying it lacked substance and was hypothetical in the issues it sought to address.