Cameroonian newspaper vendor among three persons sentenced to life imprisonment

By Ashu Tidings

The Buea Military Tribunal has sentenced three civilians for their role in the ongoing unrest in Cameroon’s North-West and South-West Regions. The verdicts were handed to Ako Eyong, Elvis Kale and Francis Fontem on 04 October 2022 at the end of a nightlong court session presided at by Colonel Mem Michel, President of the Buea Military Tribunal.

The State Prosecutor at the Buea Military Tribunal, Major Mboule Emmanuel had prayed the court to sentence the trio to death, but Colonel Magistrate Mem slammed a life sentence on the three accused.

Ako Eyong

While Ako Eyong and Elvis Kale were brought in from the Buea Central Prison to receive their life sentences, Francis Fontem was sentenced in absentia.

The trio were being tried for fuelling the ghost town, lockdown and civil disobedience calls in the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon championed by armed separatists.

Francis Fontem

According to Barrister Mbi Mbi Elias, counsel for Ako Eyong and Elvis Kale, the trial was in connection to a separatist attack on a military patrol team in Mile 14 Buea on Wednesday, 30 January 2019. A military raid that ensued a day after the attack led to the discovery of cartons of pro-separatist flyers inside the newspaper kiosk managed by Francis Fontem at the Mile 17 Bus Station in Buea.

Elvis Kale

“Francis Fontem was arrested as the prime suspect but escaped from custody under strange circumstances. My clients who own a printing press in Buea were later arrested and their role in printing the flyers has now been established by the courts. The court has also ruled that the runaway Francis Fontem has a link with my clients,” Barrister Mbi Mbi said.

While Ako Eyong and Elvis Kale are serving jail time while hoping on the outcome of an appeal filed by their lawyers, a warrant of arrest now hangs over Francis Fontem as he is expected to begin is jail time.

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