To the Cameroonian authority and the separatist groups, journalists are important catalysts for democracy and one of its most vital tenets which is accountability. Every progressive human society requires a robust press to inform, educate and enlighten its people. Hence they are seen are threats to both the authorities and rebels.
Since the current Cameroonian crisis began in 2017, at least 15 journalists have reportedly been threatened by separatists while the government have arrested at least 12 pen pushers and charged them with terrorism or peddling false information. All but one has been released.
And so, Jackson Wawa Ntor, a Bamenda based journalist arrested without a warrant in Nkambe since May 15, 2018 by elements of the gendarmerie brigade in Nkambe remains in detention and still held incommunicado.
According to his colleagues, he was accused of publishing secessionist information and threat of life. All these really amounted to trumped up charges as the publishing of information which is deemed secessionist were in fact getting the sides of the story from the government and the rebels as well .
The second charge which is threat to life was thrown out by the court after deliberate consideration.
According to legal experts, Wawa ought to have been released ever since as the Cameroonian authority do not have any legitimate grounds to keep him incarcerated.
He has been languishing in detention for close to two years now .
It appeared as if both the prosecution and the court officials are working in tandem to keep the journalist in detention for as long as possible .
Mr Wawa has appeared in court for more than thirty times yet the case against him didn’t proceed until May 2019.
In the absence of witnesses the prosecutor brought in the judicial police to testify against the accused, a travesty of justice and due process.
Defense lawyer Barrister Ngwang Shey filed a petition urging the court to declare the case null and void. In more than one hour submission he cited pertinent provisions of the criminal procedure code violated by the investigator. He however challenged the court to choose between the defendant whose rights have been violated or the violator.
After listening to the arguments advanced by defense counsel with contention from the state prosecutor; the presiding judge demanded a reasonable time for the judgment to be passed. In about four sessions the judge keeps saying he is still working on the judgment.
In June 2019 the presiding judge,James Dfe went on leave and has hitherto not resumed, so the case could not resume and there is no date or indication as to when the judge would resume the trial .
Therefore, citizen Jackson Wawa languishes in jail for the foreseeable future.
As a the journalism practitioner i call upon the Cameroonian government and international community to intervene and ensure that justice for Wawa prevails.
Let pen pushers in Cameroon be free to do their rightful and constitutional duties .
Mike Odeh James writes from Kaduna.
He can be reached via