Après avoir passé quelques minutes dans les locaux de la direction centrale de la police judiciaire (DCPJ), Me Pépé Antoine Lama est désormais libre de ses mouvements.
L’avocat qui était parti rendre visite à un de ses clients à la DCPJ y a été retenu sous les ordres de Fabou Camara. L’avocat à la cour est revenu sur les circonstances de sa « brève arrestation » et de sa remise en liberté.
« C’est maintenant qu’il a ordonné à ce que je quitte. Je ne sais pas les raisons. Il me dit qu’il y aurait une plainte contre moi ici à la DPJ. Il y a une semaine de cela, on avait communiqué, il disait qu’il avait besoin de moi par rapport à une affaire pour avoir ma version des faits. Je lui ai dit que si c’est par rapport au dossier que je connais là, que j’ai déjà été saisi par le procureur général. Et je lui ai dit que si c’est pour m’entendre en tant qu’avocat, de saisir le bâtonnier parce qu’il connait bien la procédure. Donc aujourd’hui, je viens pour rencontrer un client qui a été incarcéré dans ce dossier depuis le jeudi, il me voit dans sa camera surveillance, il envoie un commandant vers moi et il me dit de le suivre. Je lui demande, c’est une interpellation ? Mais par respect, sans vouloir tirer en long, je suis venu à son bureau. Il me dit de l’attendre cinq minutes, je lui ai dit que j’ai une audience à la cour suprême, il n’a pas compris, il dit d’attendre. J’ai insisté, il me dit ‘’vous allez attendre’’, j’ai dit là, ça devient une rétention. Alors, j’ai appelé le bâtonnier qui lui a appelé et il lui a fait savoir que je pouvais aller, que je n’étais pas retenu. Et je me lève pour partir, il y a le même commandant qui m’arrête pour dire qu’on lui a donné des instructions de ne pas me laisser partir, donc, il a fallu des appels de part et d’autre, et il vient d’ordonner à ce que je quitte » a expliqué Me Pépé Antoine Lamah dans des propos relayés par nos confrères de Mosaiqueguinee.com
Today marks one week since prominent Cameroonian human rights lawyer, Amungwa Tanyi Nicodemus, was thrown behind bars on bogus charges of inciting terrorism. He should be released immediately.
Gendarmes arrested Amungwa on May 31 at the Groupement Territorial de la Gendarmerie in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, while he was assisting a client. According to Amungwa’s lawyers, after Amungwa complained that Cameroon’s criminal procedure had been breached in his client’s case, the gendarme in charge of the investigation seized Amungwa’s phone without a warrant, claiming Amungwa had taken photographs at the facility. While searching for the alleged photographs, the gendarme found other photographs that recorded alleged military abuses in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and arrested Amungwa, his lawyers said.
Amungwa was transferred to the Service Central des Recherches Judiciaires (SCRJ), at the State Defense Secretariat (Secrétariat d’État à la défense, SED) – a detention facility where Human Rights Watch has previously documented repeated resort to incommunicado detention and torture – where he remains detained.
On June 1, Amungwa’s lawyers and the head of the Cameroon bar association visited him in detention and urged his release. Two days later, the Yaoundé military court prosecutor rejected Amungwa’s lawyers’ request for bail and returned the case to the SCRJ for “relevant checks.”
Amungwa, a member of the Cameroon bar association, is one of the lawyers representing Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe, the jailed leader of the Cameroonian separatist group, the Ambazonia Interim Government, and several other people arrested in connection with the Anglophone crisis.
“Amungwa’s arrest is a direct attack on the legal profession,” Ayukotang Ndep Nkongho, one of Amungwa’s lawyers, told me. “His arbitrary detention reveals a system geared towards stifling and undermining the role and activities of lawyers involved in key human rights cases.”
Provisional Report on the Arrest and Detention of Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus
On Monday the 31st of May 2021, Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus (a Lawyer to the Cameroon Bar Association ) was arrested while assisting his client at the Groupement Territorial de Yaoundé.
It is important to note that Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus is a committed human rights lawyer whose selflessness and dedication to the protection and promotion of the rights of the vulnerable makes violators uncomfortable and ready to oust him or paralyse the quality of his services.
On Monday the 31st of May 2021, Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus went to the Groupement Territorial de la Gendarmerie de Yaoundé to assist a litigant (his client) who had been arrested and locked up. The investigator (Adjudant Chef MINLO) records the statement of the litigant (note that the litigant is a client of Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus). After the recording the statement, Adjudant Chef MINLO moves to the next phase of the investigation, that of CONFRONTING THE PARTIES. At this stage, Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus realizes that Adjudant Chef MINLO rather wants to confront the lawyer of the adverse party to Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus’ client. Barrister AMUNGWA contests this and points out to the lawyer of the adverse party and Adjudant Chef MINLO that the Cameroon Criminal Procedure Code regulating the aspect of confrontation of parties during criminal investigations doesn’t allow a lawyer to ask and take questions in place of his client. As Adjudant Chef MINLO and the lawyer of the adverse party realize that Barrister AMUNGWA would not permit them contravene this procedural rule, the lawyer of the adverse party concerts with Adjudant Chef MINLO and starts screaming that he suspects Barrister AMUNGWA of taking snapshots. Barrister AMUNGWA holds out his phone, shows it to Adjudant Chef MINLO who rather seizes the phone and starts spouting obscenities at Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus. Obviously frustrated at the dexterity with which Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus defended his client’s rights, Adjudant Chef MINLO, not finding any picture related to the on going investigation, concludes that the images of the atrocities in the war torn regions found in Barrister AMUNGWA’s phone are tantamount to Acts of Terrorism. If Adjudant Chef MINLO can contravene the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code on confronting the parties it is just normal that he will stop at nothing in his bid to implicate anyone and particularly the one, Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus who exposes his abusive behavior.
So, Adjudant Chef MINLO abusively seizes Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus’ phone and frames him up for Acts of Terrorism whereas the former is in the exercise of his professional duties, that of assisting a litigant. Barrister AMUNGWA is then transferred to Service Central des Recherches Judiciaires (SCRJ) at about 5 p.m. The next day, Tuesday the 1st of June 2021, the Bâtonnier of the Cameroon Bar Association, Maître ATANGANA BIKOUNA Claire and two other lawyers Maître DJODO Crepin and I, AYUKOTANG NDEP NKONGHO visited Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus at SCRJ. While there, the Bâtonnier spoke with him and reassured him of her support. She then spoke with the Lieutenant at SCRJ charged with investigating the case and stated the position of the Cameroon Bar Association, the release of Barrister AMUNGWA. We left the service. Later in the day, Barristers NDETAN Victor and PEKUM Emmanuel visited him.
On Wednesday the 2nd of May 2021, Senior Barrister AKUWIYADZE Joseph, Barristers GBAKA Ernest, PEKUM Emmanuel and I, AYUKOTANG NDEP NKONGHO went to SCRJ and assisted him during the recording of his statement. At the end of the exercise, Senior Barrister AKUWIYADZE Joseph reiterated the position of the Cameroon Bar Association expressed the day before by the Bâtonnier Me. ATANGANA BIKOUNA Claire.
Yesterday, the 3rd of June 2021, Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus was presented to the Commissaire du Gouvernement du Tribunal Militaire de Yaoundé. The Bâtonnier was present and stayed on for about 3 hours. Immediately the Bâtonnier arrived, she spoke with and assured him. She then was ushered into the office of the Commissaire du Gouvernement where besides requesting the release of Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus, she, the Bâtonnier drew the attention of the Commissaire du Gouvernement to some unconscionable and wayward behavior of the gendarmes charged with the custody of Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus. Whereas the Commissaire du Gouvernement intervened immediately on the issue the gendarmes behavior and caused the gendarmes to treat Barrister AMUNGWA with respect of his inherent human dignity, the issue of release was left pending.
At about 7:30 p.m., the Commissaire du Gouvernement invited the Bâtonnier into his office. The Bâtonnier accompanied by Bar Council Member Maître Daniel Blaise NGOS, Maître Anne Yolande NGO MINYOGOG, Maître Dorcas NGONGME, Maître NDZODE NDE Yves, Barrister SAMKIA TITANJI, Barrister NDETAN Victor, Barrister PEKUM Emmanuel, Maître NDJODO Crepin, Maître FONGANG Jean Marc, Barrister ACHA MACKLEANS, Barrister KUHSEN Nicoline and I, Barrister AYUKOTANG NDEP NKONGHO got into the office of the Commissaire du Gouvernement. While in his office, he, the Commissaire du Gouvernement explained to us that he has returned the file to the investigating unit SCRJ for relevant checks. That as a result Barrister AMUNGWA TANYI Nicodemus will be held in custody until the eventual forwarding of the file by SCRJ to him, the Commissaire du Gouvernement. The Bâtonnier requested the release of Barrister AMUNGWA but the Commissaire du Gouvernement submitted that the request is considered and it would be appreciated and responded to in due time. It is with this conclusion that the Bâtonnier, accompanied by the other lawyers, walked to Barrister AMUNGWA, reassured him and while he was taken back to SCRJ by gendarmes, the lawyers retired to their respective destinations.
Done in Yaounde, this day, Friday the 4th of June 2021 at 9 a.m.
By AYUKOTANG NDEP NKONGHO, Advocate to the Cameroon Bar Association.