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Cameroon: Justice Paul Ayah Abine's appeal rejected by Biya's "Supreme Court"

The Supreme Court has in a ruling destroyed the hopes of detained Supreme Court Advocate General, Justice Paul Ayah Abine, of gaining justice after the appeal court rejected his appeal.

The Advocate General at the Centre Court of Appeal said Ayah’s lawyers knocked on the wrong door.

“If one has a problem and knocks at the wrong door, it will be the wrong person inside and that person’s problem would not be solved,” she said.

Ayah’s hopes flew out of the window when the presiding judge, Justice Mbonkeu, ruled in favour of the Advocate General for the State party.

Thus, Ayah’s hope to be freed from illegal detention was once more dashed.

The lawyers, however, took exception to the Advocate General’s submission. They said they filed their application in tandem with section 274 of the CPC.

They argued that since Ayah was arrested and detained at the Gendarmerie Headquarters in Yaounde on January 21, he has not been charged with any crime.

While stating their case, defence counsels Barristers Christopher Ndong, Luc Kisob and John Mbufor, said their action was predicated on Article 274 of the Criminal Procedure Code, CPC, which states that “the appeal shall be made by way of unstamped application in four copies and addressed to the President of the Inquiry Control Chambers.”

According to the defence counsels, Ayah’s arrest ran counter to article 119(4) of the CPC, which provides that ”except in cases of felonies or misdemeanors committed flagrante delicto (caught red-handed), remand in police custody should not be ordered on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays.”

The lawyers said those who arrested Ayah violated the law because they virtually kidnapped him on January 21, 2017, which was a Saturday.

Ayah’s lawyers called the court’s attention to section 629 of pact 10 of the CPC which borders on privilege proceedings.

The section provides that “where a judicial or legal officer is likely to be charged with committing an offence, the competent Procureur General 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.”

The lawyers said those who arrested Ayah flagrantly violated the law and urged the court to thrash the matter using section three of the CPC.

The provision reads as follows: ”The sanction against the infringement of any rule of the Criminal Procedure shall be an absolute nullity.”

According to Barrister Christopher Ndong, they learned for the first time from the State Counsel at the Mfoundi High Court that their client was arrested on charges of terrorism, secession and rebellion against the State.

Ayah’s lawyers decided to file an appeal to the Supreme Court after the Centre Court of Appeal in Yaounde maintained its rejection of the habeas corpus application they filed at the Mfoundi High Court recently.

The Appeal Court rejected the plea on claims that the defence lawyers addressed their appeal to the President of the Inquiry Control Chambers.

After listening to the submissions of the defence lawyers, the Advocate General at the Centre Court of Appeal said the counsels used the law correctly and presented their arguments very well.

She said their problem was at the level of the admissibility of the application. She said they did not address the application to the President of the court.

The Appeal Court ruling is a logical continuation of the Mfoundi High Court decision of last March when the defence lawyers filed a habeas corpus application, asking for the immediate release of their client.

Some magistrates, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Post that they are shocked and devastated by the barbaric manner in which the State is treating a super scale magistrate of the Supreme Court. Observers are looking up to the Supreme Court to see how Ayah’s colleagues would treat one of theirs when the case is finally entertained.

Meanwhile, Ayah has been facing failing health in detention.


Concord Newsdesk

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