Friday, February fourteenth, the   UN says at least 22 people have been killed in a village in the Northwest region of Cameroon. Over half of those killed were children. No one has claimed responsibility for Friday’s incident but the opposition parties blame the killing on the government.

Mayor of Buea, Patrick Ekema Esunge defies Court ruling, grabs land, imprisons owner

The Mayor of Buea, Patrick Ekema Esunge, and his Council have been roped in another land-grabbing scandal.

The duo has defied a Fako High Court ruling ordering both parties to issue a building permit to Jenkins Mendinde Ekema.

Mendinde had dragged Mayor Ekema and the Buea Council to the Fako High Court in Buea for refusing to issue him a building permit, even after the Council received FCFA 175,000 for the permit.

Instead of issuing the permit, the Mayor and his Council staff went to the site and started construction, using Mendinde’s building materials.

The land in question is 572 square metres located at the Governmental Residential Area (GRA) Buea, which Mendinde applied for through the Fako administration to construct a house.

After due consideration, Fako SDO, Zang III, forwarded Mendinde’s application to the Minister of State Property and Land Tenure and Mendinde’s application was granted.

According to Mendinde, after submitting various documents to obtain a building permit from the Council and after paying FCFA 175,000, which was demanded by the Council for the permit, he was later denied the permit.

“To my greatest surprise, Mayor Ekema and his Buea Council staff instead went to the plot and started building on the site, using my blocks and building materials, which I had acquired,” Mendinde said.

High Court Ruling

Following the Council’s unwillingness to issue the building permit to Mendinde and Mayor Ekema’s apparent obsession with the piece of land, Mendinde decided to prosecute both the Mayor and the Buea Council at the Fako High Court.

However, due to the lengthy legal procedures, Mendinde said on October 10 he signed a Power of Attorney, designating Valentine Ojong Ntui, to be his lawful Attorney.

In the Power of Attorney, Mendinde wrote that Ntui can “appear for and on my behalf in any of the Courts of First Instance, High Courts, Court of Appeal in the Southwest Region wherever and whenever I have been or may be cited as a party in any legal proceedings, suit, cause or action and to do any such acts as would be and/or could have been lawfully done by me and which is or could be incidental to the power in (a) above.”

After a lengthy legal battle with Mayor Ekema and the Buea Council, on Thursday, September 8, 2016, Justice Eseme Otto Ngame, in his verdict, a copy of which The Post procured, ordered Buea Council and Mayor Ekema to issue a building permit to Mendinde.

Justice Eseme Ngame also ruled that “the first respondent, Mayor Patrick Ekema, should in two weeks after notification of the ruling, furnish the applicant with the list of conditions that have not been fulfilled.

Failure on the part of the Mayor to provide a list of unfulfilled conditions shall be considered that the applicants have fulfilled all the necessary conditions.”

The court further ruled that should the Buea Council and its Mayor fail to act accordingly to the court’s ruling, “they shall jointly and severally pay the applicant the sum of FCFA50,000 for each day they fail to deliver the said building permit.”

Ekema Defies Court Ruling

Despite the September 8 ruling, Ekema snubbed the verdict and has continued to construct on the disputed site.

On Tuesday, November 1, some seven Buea Council police accompanied by one Judicial police stormed the residence of Lawrence Ojong, the father of Ojong Ntui, demanding his son’s where abouts.

Speaking to The Post after the incident, Ojong said; “I heard noise outside my house. When I came out, the place was full with Council police and one judicial police.

They were already ransacking my compound that they have been sent by the State Counsel to come and arrest my son. I told them to show me the warrant of arrest but they refused.

I said my son is not in the house and that he was not living with me.

“I wanted to know if the State Counsel is now working with the Buea Council police instead of police officers assigned to her by Government.

The officer also said they have a warrant to search my house. But he refused to show me the warrant. Instead he went ahead and started searching my house without authorisation.

After ransacking my house, they left, promising to deal with my son,” the old man recounted.

Ojong, Soh Arrested

Later that November 1, Ojong Ntui was arrested and taken before the State Counsel on the instruction of the Southwest Attorney General.

From the State Counsel’s office, he was remanded into custody at the Buea Central Police Station, where he is still detained.

After the arrest of Ojong Ntui, his friend, Michael Soh, who was struggling to make arrangements for his friend’s release on bail, met with the Mayor Ekema at the Buea Central Police Station and the Mayor ordered for his arrest.

According to the Mayor, Soh was arrested for complicity and for associating with Ojong Ntui. The duo is still languishing in police custody.

It would be recalled that during the legal battle between Ojong Ntui and the Mayor, the Mayor’s advocate said there were some documents that the applicant did not have that could permit the Council to grant him a building permit.

The Regional Secretary of the National Commission of Human Rights and Freedoms, Christopher Tambe Tiku, has described the arrest and detention of the duo as an abuse of human rights.


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