Harmony Bobga, representative of the general assembly of the Cameroon bar association for the country’s North West Region has resigned in protest of a communiqué reportedly ordered by Barrister Ntumfor Nico Halle. The communiqué which Ntumfor debunked, states that the Bar association distances itself from an on-going strike by Common Law lawyers.
Ntumfor however told Blasting News this morning that it is rather unfortunate that his representative resigned because of an erroneous communiqué. “I did not say the bar association distances itself from the actions of Common Law lawyers. If there is anybody who champions the Anglophone course in this country, it is Nico Halle,” he argued. He noted that he had asked Barrister John Kameni, his representative in Fako Division who wrote the communiqué on his behalf, to modify it.
Speaking to Blasting News this morning, Barrister Kameni confirmed it is he who distances himself from the strike action of the Common Law lawyers. He said he has corrected the communiqué as Ntumfor ordered. The modified communiqué reads: “The President of the general assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association upon traveling to Yaounde to meet the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals to discuss salient issues on the translation of the OHADA uniform act, announces to all lawyers that he is in total negotiations with the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals for the effective translation of the OHADA uniform act.”
It also states “He also makes it clear that the minister of state has immediately ordered his technical staff to accelerate and come out with the translated version of the OHADA uniform act as soon as possible.” Kameni however casts doubts on the move. He suggested it is absurd for lawyers in Cameroon to request their government to translate into English, a document supposed to be written in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese by a council of ministers.
This, he said, is the job of the council of ministers of member countries of the OHADA uniform act. He however emphasised that the modified release is the only valid communiqué. The leaders of the strike however insist the Bar Association President should write a disclaimer against the erroneous communiqué to make the second one valid.
Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla, President of the Fako Lawyers’ Association, FAKLA, Philip Awutah Atubah, President of the Meme Lawyers’ Association, MELA, Harmony Bobga-Mbuton, President of the North West Lawyers’ Association, NOWELA, Emilien Ngangjoh Sopseh, President of the Manyu lawyers’ Association, MALA, maintain Ntumfor would be responsible for the acts of his subordinate if he does not issue a disclaimer.
Vote of no confidence
Barrister Agbor Balla warned, “He should not be surprised if we decide to boycott all activities of the Bar Association and even go as far signing a Vote of No Confidence against him. He should do things the way they are supposed to be done. Kameni is my brother and friend but always tries to please the system (government).”
Barrister Kameni for his part admitted that the fact that Common Law lawyers respected the call to down tools in an indication that the leaders have their support. Yet he said the strike proponents are backing a secessionist movement, SCNC which is fighting for the Independence of the former British Cameroon, currently administered as Anglophone regions of the Republic of Cameroon. He said they are also trying to win the hearts of Anglophone lawyers who will vote in forthcoming Bar elections.
To Barrister Agbor Mballa, “those are the rantings of a confused person”. He and other leaders share the argument of the resigned representative of the Bar Association in the North West region, Barrister Bobga. He notes in his resignation letter that neither the Bar Council nor Bar Association has ever officially and specifically addressed the concerns raised by Common Law layers since their first stormy meeting in May 2015