By Folegwe II Menky, March 20, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaoundé – The fate of the Advocate General of the Supreme Court, Ayah Paul Abine, who has been incarcerated since January 21, will be known on Tuesday, March 21, as the Mfoundi High Court sitting in Yaounde is expected to rule on it.
Ayah’s lawyers had on March 6, filed a Habeas Corpus, requesting the President of the Mfoundi High Court to free the magistrate.
Barrister Ndong Christopher Nveh, one of the defense counsels, told The Cameroon Journal that it was only when the case came up in chambers on March 16, “that the legal department claimed they had informed Ayah of the charges against him.”
During last Thursday’s hearing in the chambers of the President of the Mfoundi High Court, Barristers Maurice Kamto, Ndong Christopher Nveh, Mbufor John and Luc Kisob noted that their client was arrested on a Saturday, which is in total violation of provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. “Also, we argued that our client – a sitting magistrate – was arrested with an ‘Avis de Recherche’ as though he was a street boy,” Ndong said.
Barrister Ndong quoted Ayah Paul as telling the examining magistrate he was highly disappointed with the manner with which he was arrested and detained.
When the case comes up tomorrow in chambers, the magistrate is expected to rule on a Habeas Corpus filed on behalf of Ayah by his counsels. The court’s decision will either free Ayah or remand the chairman of the opposition Popular Action Party in custody, jurists say.
Barristers Nveh and Luke Mirac Chengayam, respectively representing CNN & Partners Law Firm and Kisob Law Office, had earlier said Ayah’s arrest and detention were mired in irregularities.
Ayah was whisked off from his Tam Tam Weekend residence in Yaounde in the evening of Saturday January 21, and has since been in detention at the Secretariat of State for Defense in charge of the National Gendarmerie (SED).
In a letter dated March 6, to the President of the Mfoundi High Court, Ayah’s defense counsels said their client was taken away from his residence in the presence of his family and transferred with military aid to SED. “He [Ayah] discovered that no judicial proceeding had been initiated against him by the state of Cameroon for wrongdoings which he has ignored.”
Going by Barrister Nveh, the Military Prosecutor (‘Commissaire du Gouvernement’), who is reported to have ordered the arrest, violated Ayah’s rights as a magistrate as well as legal procedures.
Nveh cited Section 629, Sub 1 & 2, of the Criminal Procedure Code which reads: “(1) Where a judicial or legal officer is likely to be charged with committing an offence, the competent Procureur General [State Counsel] shall request the President of the Supreme Court to appoint an investigating magistrate as well as three other magistrates of a grade at least equal to that of the magistrate incriminated and they shall, if necessary, hear and determine the matter at first instance.
“(2) The President of the Supreme Court shall, in addition, indicate the town wherein the case shall be heard.”
Considering that the legal procedures leading to Ayah’s arrest and subsequent detention were “grossly violated,” his lawyers are basking on Section 3 of the Criminal Procedure Code to cause the President of the Mfoundi High Court to immediately release Ayah. Section 3 of the Criminal Procedure Code stipulates, inter alia, that the sanction against the infringement of any rule of criminal procedure shall be an absolute nullity.
Ayah is still being held in detention at SED, with reliable sources indicating that since his lawyers filed a petition for his release, security has been reinforced around Ayah’s cell at the National Gendarmerie headquarters.