The aforementioned traditional rulers had seized the courts to modify the three-man list published by ELECAM on October 2.
Indeed, the list approved by ELECAM had the names of Chief Emmanuel Etina Monono, Second Class Chief of Great Soppo; Chief Richard Kalla Esso, Second Class Chief of Mungo Island; and Chief Otto Molive Molungu, Third Class Chief of Batoke.
Whilst Fako chiefs had endorsed the candidacy of Chiefs Ndike and Nanyowe along with that of Chief Etina Monono, the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, for Fako, Engamba Emmanuel Ledoux, is said to have played foul.
Cameroon-Info.Net understands that the SDO convened the chiefs on September 21, collected the files of aspirants under the guise that traditional rulers are auxiliaries of the administration. He is said to have withheld the files of Chief Ndike and Nanyowe, making it impossible for them to submit their files at ELECAM within the prescribed time frame.
Barristers Ebah Ntoko Justice, Nkea Aleambong Emmanuel (Mrg), and Njissic Stephen Njilla say SDO Ledoux “unjustly disenfranchised Chief Ndike Richard Kombe and Chief Esombe David Nanyowe from the electoral process”, an action which is “manifestly unlawfully and constitutes electoral fraud”.
The lawyers, on behalf of their clients, accused the SDO of gross interference in the electoral process of registration of candidates for the December 6 elections into the Regional House of Chiefs from the Fako Electoral Constituency.
To justify their indictment, the lawyers put out a press statement on September 25, 2020, recalling that the Fako Chiefs Conference had through a pre-selection/pre-election process endorsed a list consisting of Chief Etina Monono of Buea, Chief Ndike Richard Kombe of Mondoni, Tiko, and Chief Esombe David Nanyowe of Bonadikombo, Limbe I, as candidates for election into the Regional House of Chiefs from the Fako Electoral Constituency.
They said the SDO convened a meeting of all Traditional Rulers of Fako Division for September 21 with a view to “unlawfully determine the list of candidates for election into the Regional House of Chiefs from the Fako Electoral Constituency”, going forward to “unlawfully collect the files of all the above named pre-selected candidates under the pretext of submitting same to the ELECAM but unlawfully confiscated same”.
The lawyers say the SDO “unlawfully and fraudulently altered the list of the preselected candidates by eliminating there-from the names of Chief Ndike Richard Kombe and Chief Esombe David Nanyowe and replacing them with the names of Chief Kalla Esoh of Mongo Island and Chief Otto Molondo, and also unlawfully withheld the composed files of Chief Ndike Richard Kombe and Chief Esombe David Nanyowe beyond the deadline for submission to ELECAM, and only returned same after pressure from a Bailiff.”
The lawyers, with the blessings of their clients, went on to seize the Administrative Court to challenge these “brazen acts of administrative excesses including but not limited to criminal prosecution under section 122(1)(g)&(h) of the Penal Code.”
The South West Administrative Court said on Tuesday that the petition filed by Chiefs Ndike and Nanyowe was admissible. The court declared as frivolous and groundless a plea by the defense team to have the matter thrown out on grounds that the court lacks competence. Even a submission by ELECAM lawyers that the duo erred by submitting their files to the SDO and not to ELECAM as required by the law was quickly dismissed.
Justice Edward Mbuh Ossoh, Justice Christopher Ofon and Justice Martin Lonje who heard the matter agreed that the SDO was wrong to have confiscated the files of Chiefs Ndike and Nanyowe, thereby preventing them from reaching the ELECAM office before the deadline.
The Court also found fault in the SDO’s action in altering the list that was duly constituted by the Chiefs.
They ruled in favor of the Chiefs and ordered ELECAM to cancel the names of Chiefs Molive and Kalla and reinstate Ndike
Chief Ndike and Nanyowe as well as their lawyers expressed satisfaction with the Court's decision.
In a related development, the court threw out the matter pitting Chief Batae Enoh of Kembong village in Manyu against the SDO of Manyu, ELECAM, and Chief Cyprian Ojang Eno, arguing that it lacked merit. Chief Enoh wanted the Court to disqualify the list that was selected by the Chiefs of which he, himself, signed.
The decisions of the South West Administrative Court were communicated forthwith to the Electoral Board of Elections Cameroon for enforcement in line with Section 259(3) of Law N° 2012/001 of 19 April 2012 relating to the electoral code, amended and supplemented by Law n° 2012/017 of 21 December 2012.