EDITORIAL: Has Agbor Balla And Fontem Neba Ask Schools to Resume?

Left -right: Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba.
Left -right: Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Cameroon Journal, Washington D.C – As Southern Cameroonians in the homeland went to bed on Friday night, 1st of September, a communique apparently signed by Barrister Bernard Muna and his Francophone counterpart of the Cameroon Bar Association, Charles Tchoungang, went into circulation allegedly at the request of Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba.

The press statement written only in the French language states categorically that Agbor Balla and Fontem Neba have given Barrister Muna, their lead Counsel, power of attorney to relate their position on schools resumption in the southern Cameroons.

At press time, The Cameroon Journal was unable to expressly confirm that the press statement actually came from Barrister Muna and whether or not Barrister Balla and Fontem Neba actually endorsed it. However, after more than six attempts to reach Barrister Muna by phone Saturday morning yielded no fruit, we had reasons to come to the conclusion that he actually authored and signed the document. After efforts to contact Muna by phone failed, we left him a message of inquiry on his social media account, and then waited and watched him actually login to his social media account to read the message, but even so, he didn’t care to respond to the inquiry.

But whether the statement is genuine or forged, and whether Balla and Fontem endorsed it or not, it speaks to a larger issue, that of the official position of Dr. Balla and Dr. Fontem on this most important subject of school resumption in the Southern Cameroons. We are reminded that just before they were released on Thursday, August 31, a statement from the Vice President of SCACUF Governing Council, suggested that Balla and Fontem were under severe pressure to sign an undertaking endorsing the resumption of schools. Of course, there has been no counter to that statement and of course, we were not expecting one from Balla and Fontem right away, considering the fact that they were barely released when the statement from SCACUF Vice President was made public. But now that an official statement on the issue is ostensibly out from their lawyers, and left without the ability to authenticate it, it is absolutely incumbent upon Balla and Fontem to step out and clear every worry.

The necessity and urgency of this lies in the fact that there are only two days left for schools resumption going by the calendar set forth by La Republique du Cameroon. Considering the strategic importance of this school subject in the Southern Cameroons struggle, silence from Balla and Fontem right now will not be appreciated nor understood. In fact, silence will only reflect consent to the Ben Muna’s statement and position in question.

At the Cameroon Journal, we are strongly appealing to Barrister Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba to step out and declare their stance on this subject just as Justice Paul Ayah and his organization did yesterday.

We are definitely very conscious of what you have been through in the last nine months, and the fact that you need time to recuperate and meet with family. It wasn’t in our plan to want to border you this early to begin publicly addressing issues. But this moment in the struggle for which you served jail for nine months is a make or mar moment. You cannot hold back any opinion that has the potential to determine the next direction in this struggle. Please, the Southern Cameroons public, the supporters who stood behind you and kept your names in the limelight while you were locked up are eager to know whether or not Ben Muna is speaking for the both of you.

To come out of jail and haven’t even had time to consult with leaders of the struggle and the first thing you do is ask for schools to resume tantamount to betrayal, not just to the cause, but equally to the parents of the students who have refused to send their children to school because of the very unscrupulous system you told them before your arrest that it needs repairs.

To come out and the first thing you do is order school resumption without even a formal statement of thanks to those who fought for your release and those who died defending the treason charges against you is indeed an insult and a slap on their faces.

If truly you both want schools to resume, what is going to happen to the other teachers that you both left behind bars in Kondengui and at the underground bunkers at the Gendarmerie headquarters in Yaoundé, and of course, others locked up in Buea and Bamenda prisons? And what about the other students still wasting behind bars? When and where are they to resume their own schools if really you want schools to resume?

Barrister Balla, and Dr. Fontem, Southern Cameroonians want to hear from you now, – did you really ask Ben Muna to send out that statement on your behalf? Did you say schools should resume or not in the Southern Cameroons? We are not about indicting you now. However, we will have much to say depending on what your position about the Ben Muna’s statement is.


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