EDITORIAL: Revocation of Hon. Wirba’s Immunity, An Unacceptable Precedence That All MPs Must Resist

Hon. Joseph Wirba
Hon. Joseph Wirba

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cameroon Journal, Washington D.C – In a matter of days or weeks to come, it appears that Hon Joseph Wirba, our parliamentarian from Jakiri, like Consortium leaders, Agbor Balla and Fontem Neba, may be arrested. We have gathered reliably that Parliamentary leadership plans on calling a Special Session during which they plan to revoke his immunity from arrest, including that of Hon. Martin Oyono of the ruling CPDM.

At the moment, the relevance of Wirba to the Anglophone cause cannot be overemphasized. He remains the pillar, the rallying point, and symbol of hope behind the struggle at the home front. He has expressed defiance against fears of such arrest and has insisted that he’s neither going to run nor go into hiding or take refuge in some foreign embassy. He has vowed that his scheduled resistance rallies in Kumba, Buea, Bamenda and the rest of the Southern Cameroons will take place as planned – whether the regime likes it or not.

However, this is the problem. What if the regime pre-empts these events by arresting him? Or better still, what if they kill him before the scheduled rallies? These two scenarios have probabilities happening.

Consider the lesser one – the possibility of his arrest. Of course, that is the sole purpose behind Parliament calling for an Extra-Ordinary Session. They have resolved on stripping him of his immunity so they can then proceed to arrest him.

At the Cameroon Journal, we think that just the thought of revoking Wirba’simmunity ought to be raising eye brows. It will be sending a very dangerous signal to all parliamentarians, irrespective of party affiliation because of the precedence it is going to set.

We call on our parliamentarians not to be fooled and cajoled into falling into this trap. The wisdom being that after you do it for Wirba, when you strip him of his immunity, you shouldn’t think that it can’t eventually apply to any of you.  If you think that this is an overstatement, consider former PM Ephraim Inoni, Marafa, Yves Fotso, Mebara, Mendo ze, Haman Adama, Urbain Olanguena Awono, Abah Abah, Matthew Forjindam, etc, etc, the list gets even longer.

These men like the parliamentarians, once wielded such power, influence, and authority, and they used it to sign orders upon orders chaining the hands of average Cameroonians. Consider, for example, the case of Marafa, his grumbling, and complaining of the prison condition in which they put him. He had only too soon forgotten that as Minister of Territorial Administration, prison reforms were under his domain. When he neglected prison reforms, you think he was thinking that one day he may find himself there?

All these men languishing in jail today, did everything to please President Biya thinking he had their backs. But the same Paul Biya whom they thought had their backs, sent them to prison.

Early last year, The Cameroon Journal had opportunity to interview former PM Ephraim Inoni in his Kondengui prison cell. It was such a pathetic scene to watch the former PM. He was sitting behind a small round white plastic table, the kind used for food at parties. We asked him how he felt sitting behind that table vis-à-vis the one he sat behind while he was Prime Minister. He answered in three words; “It is humbling.”

We at the Cameroon Journal want to appeal to every Parliamentarian in Cameroon, most especially Anglophone Parliamentarians to resist all attempts by the Paul Biya’s regime to have one of their own – Hon Wirba, punished by the revocation of his immunity. We want them to know that if Biya uses them to revoke Hon. Wirba’s immunity, he can, and will turn around to use it on any of them too.

Our Parliamentarians should not think that this question of immunity is only about Hon. Wirba and Martin Oyono. If anything, they should learn from the above examples of the fate of those who served Biya, who now languish in jails put there by the very Biya. A terrible precedence is about to be set here and conscientious parliamentarians should resist it.

However, should some overzealous parliamentarians go ahead to follow through the revocation of Hon. Wirba’s immunity, we’re asking that the rest stage a withdrawal from Parliament for good until such a time when the decision is reversed. Cameroonians cannot continue to put up with a system where the laws are only as good as they serve the crooked schemes of President Biya.

We call on all parliamentarians to show solidarity with persecuted Wirba. If you truly love Cameroon and a state of law and the people that elected you, stay in solidarity with Wirba.

For the Social Democratic Front SDF, to which Wirba is representative, we have learned at The Cameroon Journal how those who call the shots are rising against Wirba for the mere fact that he is taking the spotlight from them. We are watching very keenly to see what the SDF does should Wirba’s immunity be revoked. It is going to be a test of resolve for the party. We hope that SDF parliamentarians are prepared to lead the way of withdrawal from parliament if Hon. Wirba is penalized for his acts of bravery and patriotism.


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