The popular support that was seen from lawyers and the populations when Mancho Bibixy and others were arrested and jailed months ago has progressively disappeared. After barely one year and counting in Kondengui Prison, Mancho Bibixy and his colleagues have been abandoned to themselves. They are now left to fight it alone, all alone.
By Ojong Steven Ayukogem in Yaounde
Mancho Bibixy has been forgotten by the many fans who used to show up at the military court in Yaounde to witness his trial.
There is a popular saying in pidgin that “any man for ye self, God for we all”. That is what is happening to Mancho Bibixy and others arrested and detained in Kondengui Prison in connection to the ongoing crisis in the North West and South West regions. Mancho and the others have been deserted by their erstwhile supporters who used to crowd the Yaounde Military Court during court sessions and also troop into Kondengui Prison to console them and provide them with the needed food, drugs, succour and more.
Today Mancho and the others get support only from the indefatigable Senior Barrister Ben Acho Muna and perhaps some of the senior attorney’s partners of the Muna & Muna Chambers in Yaounde. Most of the other lawyers that used to be part of the powerful team of defense counsels at the start of the Mancho Bibixy case and who used to crowd the defense bench have all disappeared.
Not even the crowds that used to be seen standing outside the court and anxiously following the progress of proceedings are seen today.
Mancho and his colleagues in Kondengui have virtually been abandoned to themselves.
Barrister Ben Muna and at times one or two others are the only lawyers that now seat as counsels for the defense whenever Mancho’s matter comes up in court. It is Ben Muna’s Chambers that also provides food and other basic amenities for the detainees.
Yet, even as one can be sure that the Ben Muna and some few others can continue to guarantee legal counsel for the Anglophone detainees for as long as the trial will last, there is however, no guarantee that the Munas will be able to sustain the cost of feeding the ever increasing number of detainees in Kondengui especially if the court proceedings prolong for months unend.
It is understood that apart from the determined and sustained support they get from the Munas, the detainees have from time to time also received support from other concerned individuals like Justice Ayah Paul and Barrister Agbor Balla. But it becomes evident with passing time that the support from these persons is not enough.
Visiting the detainees recently, emblematic Consortium leader, Barrister Nkongho Agbor Balla, was asked by Mancho and his boys to solicit more legal and other support for them in and out of court. The detainees said they had virtually been abandoned to themselves.
“In the course of our exchanges during my recent visit to the Kondengui Prison, the Anglophone detainees insisted on the need for more legal assistance and representation both in and out of court,” recounted Agbor Balla in a post on his facebook page.
Balla added: “Barrister Bernard Muna is leading and handling this enormous task almost alone, but with the ever-increasing number of detainees, and of course the workload, it becomes an overwhelming challenge….We will like to urge lawyers to join the Muna-led team in providing much-needed legal assistance for the detainees, while we continue putting advocacy pressure in calling for unconditional release of all the detainees.”
Mancho Bibixy was arrested on 21 January 2017, after he was alleged to have master-minded and spearheaded a popular street demonstration in Bamenda, on 18 December 2016 in protest against what was considered as the total neglect of Bamenda by City Council authorities.
Mancho Bibixy and many others that were arrested were later charged with several felonious offences including terrorism by the Military court.
Because many sympathized with the cause that Mancho set out to fight, he easily gained in popularity both in Bamenda and beyond. Whenever his case was called up, hundreds of people travelled from Bamenda and other faraway places to Yaounde just to be present and witness the proceedings at the military tribunal. But they did so just for a while. They have now vamoosed perhaps because it has become evident that Mancho’s release is not for anytime soon.
Mancho’s desertion by lawyers and fans became increasingly noticed after Agbor Balla and some others were freed by a Presidential fiat. Today when his matter comes up in court just a few persons bother to turn up.
-The Median Newspaper