Hail to the Cameroon Supreme Court! That august judicial institution has since become independent of the Executive arm. It did not wait for the implementation of the Banjul Verdict calling for reforms in the Higher Judicial Council, that regulates Cameroon courts, by choosing “personalities other than the President of the Republic, the Minister for Justice and other members of the Executive Branch” to stir its affairs.
No, the Supreme Court did not wait. It moved ahead of time. It no longer takes orders from members of the Executive, reforms or none. If you doubt it, check with Ama Tutu Muna, Minister for Culture. That court has already issued two orders censuring her over the Cameroon Music Corporation (CMC) palaver.
I know a certain opinion holds that decisions taken over the CMC affair, may have been ill-advised, but that not being the focus of this contribution, the nitty-gritty will be discussed subsequently.
But who has ever heard in this country that a minister of the Republic is ordered to bow to the dictates of ordinary citizens? Don’t be mistaken: I am an ordinary citizen, and I’ve been dreaming of that day when the rascal who slaps me on the way, even if they are kids of a minister, are brought to book according to the law; of that day when a judge would not say they know the truth but cannot deliver justice because their hands are tied; of that day when a judge, knowing there have been electoral malpractices, declares the elections cancelled even if the one benefiting from the electoral fraud is the chairman of the Judicial Council that determines their professional fortunes.
As an ordinary citizen with no godfather, my hopes should rest in an independent judiciary that serves as a guarantor of my rights as an individual or member of a group in a society that never runs short of abuses, be they from other individuals, institutions or governmental services. I would want the minister who demolishes my house unlawfully to be made to pay.
I remember the statement “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted” so, you’d expect I should have been celebrating the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, compelling a minister to restore the “rights” of CMC, led by Sam Mbede.
But look at it again: the “tormentor” in this matter could really be the victim. Ama Muna could be the victim as it looks like Sam Mbede is enjoying the backing of a strong lobby at the Presidency of the Republic.
That lobby, we understand, ordered his immediate release from detention the day palaver turned nasty in May 2008. And that lobby, it seems, continues to pull the strings, using old professional camaraderie and subsequent patronage of the Judiciary to make nonsense of Ama Muna.
We haven’t seen our courts handle matters with such alacrity and persistence as in this Ama Muna-CMC palaver. We know how frustrating it has been for justice to be done to a certain woman who was suing the Yaounde government delegate for razing – just like that – a house she built in Yaounde from years of toiling abroad. There we didn’t see the alacrity of the courts. Tsimi Evouna who was targeted by that suit is not an ordinary citizen like me. But perhaps, he is also not an ordinary Anglophone minister like Amam Tutu Muna.
I recognize that victimization in this country has not always chosen the minority Anglophones, but there cannot be any denying that the enthusiasm shown by the Supreme Court in this CMC matter smells of citizen-profiling, where the Anglophone, even if they are ministers of the Republic like other big men, are expected to be grateful to have the high positions they hold and could be used like guinea pigs, as in this case, to experiment judicial independence. That is a provocation.
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