By Mua Patrick, November 24, 2016
Cameroon Journal,Yaounde – Justice Minister, Laurent Esso Tuesday belittled and bullied some prominent Anglophone lawyers who showed up for a conciliatory meeting he had convened in Yaounde to seek solutions to the grievances of protesting Common Law Lawyers.
The Cameroon Journal gathered that during the Yaounde meeting, largely boycotted by leaders of the striking Common Law Lawyers, Anglophone lawyers present were virtually reduced to observers as Laurent Esso lectured them, then downplayed or ignored most of the proposals from them.
We learnt that though they were invited as key stakeholders who could help proffer ideas that would put an end to the lawyers’ strike that is in its sixth week already, Esso not only
transformed himself into a judiciary school master while the Anglophone lawyers became students, he reduced the protesting Common Law Lawyers to people who know nothing or are grossly ignorant of the country’s laws and constitution.
A source at the in-camera meeting told our reporter that the Justice Minister did not only lecture the lawyers, he gave the Anglophone lawyers present no chance to challenge or correct his bashing of Common Law Lawyers.
In a statement read out by the Minister as he rounded up the meeting in the presence of newsmen, it emerged clearly that the burning grievances of the striking Common Law Lawyers were largely ignored during the meeting. He said the lawyers’ strike which has paralysed court activities is uncalled for.
Sounding very arrogant, he said the existence of several lawyers’ associations in the Anglophone Regions is illegal, vowing that he will not tolerate illegality – that those working in illegality should be ready to face the law. He further qualified the action of the protesting lawyers as “senseless.’’
The Justice Minister was categorical that the on-going lawyers’ action is everything but a strike, – the lawyers cannot organise an industrial action against the courts which is not their employer, he said.
In yet another arrogant tone, Esso warned that whether the lawyers appear in court or not, it would still be business as usual because they have a contract with their clients and not the courts.
He dismissed the possibility of traveling either to the North West or South West Region for dialogue with the protesting lawyers as is being demanded. He, however, quickly announced that Government is finalising plans for an enlarged meeting to look into the problems of the country’s judiciary system.
In what was seen as an attempt to generalise the Common Law Lawyers’ grievances, Esso had extended invitations to the meeting to mostly Francophone lawyers and Members of Parliament, most of whom are not directly involved with the on-going crisis.
Not only were the proposals of the Anglophone lawyers who showed up at the meeting twisted and dumped into a waste basket, all moves to raise any objections against some of Laurent Esso’s utterances were punctured.
SDF Member of Parliament for Momo who doubles as one of the Vice Presidents at the National Assembly, Barrister Joseph Mbah Ndam, left the meeting even before it went half way. It was
not clear if he left in frustration or to attend a parliamentary session that was to hold later in the afternoon.
It should be said that even though a lawyer, Mbah Ndam attended Tuesday’s meeting as an invitee from the National Assembly. On leaving the meeting ground, a seemingly-frustrated and dejected Mbah Ndam told reporters that the gathering was not such that would provide solutions to the crisis plaguing the justice system in Cameroon.
“We must admit that this country has two systems and the only solution is to maintain the two systems. There may be a lot of talking but everything centres on that…the issues being raised by Common Law Lawyers cannot be addressed in a meeting like this one…Government is just trying to water down the effects of the strike,” Mbah Ndam said and drove off in anger.