Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua in the north-western Cameroonian town of Bamanda and his assistant, Michael Miabesue Bibi, have called on the people of the region to hold a peaceful rally on Friday during their trial before the court of first instance, on charges of encouragement of strike action in Catholic schools.
“This subpoena is delivered not only to the bishops and principals of the school institutions concerned, but to all of you, especially the parents under whose control the Church opens and runs schools,” said the press release to the faithful.
The two prelates, while calling for calm and prayer, feel that they must “stand in the box to answer for these accusations.”
Cornelius Fontem Esua and Michael Miabesue Bibi would like to continue to rely on the prayers of the faithful for a more constructive dialogue, and a true and lasting solution to the socio-political problems currently facing Cameroon.
As co-accused, the Bishop of the Diocese of Kumbo, Georges Nkuo and three directors of denominational institutions in the area were sued by a group of parents known to be high-ranking army officers, who claim 150 billion CFA francs in damages.
They are blamed for not stepping in to have classes resumed in the English-speaking regions of the country, rocked since November 2016 by a socio-political crisis, and thus implicitly for inciting the cessation of classes.
Meanwhile, reacting to developments, the president of the National Episcopal Conference, Samuel Kleda, denounced the “fierceness” on the airwaves of a private radio transmitting from the country’s economic hub, Douala.
The Catholic Church in Cameroon cannot be held answerable for the crisis that has paralyzed the English-speaking regions of the north-west and south-west for more than five months, Kleda said.
He further asked why the leaders of other public and private schools, equally paralyzed by demands for federalism and even for secession by certain activists, are not also being prosecuted.