Tue, 28 May 2013 Feature Article

Lessons from Herakles Farms Debacle in Cameroon

Lessons from Herakles Farms Debacle in Cameroon

The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF), representing the Cameroon government, on 18 May 2013 suspended the operations of Herakles Farms and its Cameroon affiliate, Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC) to enable it determine the public usefulness of SGSOC activities in the proposed concession area.

Herakles Farms claims its Cameroon affiliate SGSOC had secured rights to clear 73,086 hectares of pristine rainforest in the South West Region of Cameroon to make way for an agro industrial oil palm project in an Establishment Convention signed on 17 September 2009. The company claimed they were to invest billions of dollars and recruit over 8,000 Cameroonians during the 99 years of project.

It emerged that Minister Louis Paul Motaze, formerly of the Ministry of Planning and Regional Development singlehandedly signed the Establishment Convention of 17 September 2009 with SGSOC for it to do business in Cameroon. While the signature of the President of Cameroon was pending for a land lease above 50 hectares following Cameroon Land Tenure Law, SGSOC went ahead and prepared nurseries and its plantations.

This provoked uproar in the communities of Nguti and Mundemba with more than 95 percent of the populations opposing the project. Attracted by these oppositions, the international community and national and international nongovernmental environmental organizations stepped in to determine and educate the world on the irregularities surrounding the project.

It was concluded that the project was a serious threat to an ecological hotbed of High Conservation Value (HCV). The concession area straddles five forests reserves (Korup National Park, Rumpi Hills Wildlife Reserve, Bayang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary, Bakossi Mountains National Park, Nta Ali Forest Reserve) and was seriously deleterious to sustainability and biodiversity.

SGSOC also proceeded to do business in a way that seriously undermined the community rights of the landlords, the indigenous people among whom are the Bassosi, Upper Balung, Nguti, Ngolo, Bima and Batanga. Over 40,000 people were to be dispossessed of their lands and livelihood.

The Establishment Convention with the Cameroon government gives away everything to SGSOC without anything in return. For a hectare of developed land from which local people made over US 1,000, SGSOC proposed to pay annual surface rents of US 1 dollar to Cameroon government and nothing to the farmers. SGSOC was to be exempted from all import and export duties for the life of the company, whereas local exporters of cocoa and other cash crops pay export duties of up to US 150 per ton. Cameroonians also pay thousands of dollars to import equipment to produce wealth for the country. With the work of Centre for Environment (CED), Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), Network for the Fight Against Hunger (RELUFA), Oakland Institute, Greenpeace International, World Wide Fund (WWF), Save Wildlife, GIZ, individual activists et al, the world gained understanding of the issues and the international community pressured the Cameroon government to stop Herakles Farms from destroying one of the lungs of the world.

No Negotiations Indigenous People for Land Concession

Dr Issidore Timti (RIP) and Dr. Allo Allo formerly of Korup National Park approached the communities around Nguti and Mundemba in 2009 to obtain their agreement in principle that SGSOC was welcomed to do business there. Some chiefs signed a temporal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SGSOC to enable them prove to the Government of Cameroon that company was acceptable to the people who are supposed to be the primary beneficiaries of project. The understanding was that after government authorization of project, SGSOC had to come back for a concrete MOU with the populations.

Behaving like a child who receives from the parent and fleas so that parent does not benefit again from his own largesse, SGSOC took off immediately the Establishment Convention was signed and avoided negotiating with the communities, claiming that all land belonged to government, and they did not need the vetting of the populations to be leased land. SGSOC consequently brought in surveyors from its Ghanaian operations to replicate the work in Ghana in Cameroon. SGSOC bypassed Cameroon survey departments at the Divisional, Regional and National levels and nobody could comment knowledgeably about their activities on the field. SGSOC behaved like a State within the State of Cameroon and planted its own beacons and pillars without the Lands Consultative Boards (LCB) of Nguti, Mundemba and Nguti Subdivisions participating.

Pillars were planted from Ntale on the fringes of the Bayang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary to the borders of the Korup national Park. All local authorities claimed ignorance of the activities of SGSOC which was brandishing the establishment Convention signed by Louis Paul Motaze as its authority to do as it pleased in the proposed concession area.

In country where information depends on rumors and nobody cares to verify, the local administrations believed everything and allowed SGSOC to fell trees without authorization. The regional delegates of Forestry and Wildlife, Environment and Nature Protection, Agriculture and Land Tenure and State Property declared they were powerless. Even the Regional Delegate of Planning declared he was ignorant of any Establish Convention between SGSOC and his minister.

SGSOC elicited the support of some local chiefs to support project. Chiefs who had been initially opposed to project with all tangible reasons like Chiefs Hon Mbile, Dr Atem Ebako metamorphosed into agents and assigns of SGSOC and became its Community Base Officers (CBO). The role of the CBO according to Chief Lordson Asek of Ayong recruited in the accounting unit of SGSOC in the Talangaye site, is to convince the communities of the good of the company and make it acceptable to the populations. Other CBOs who were also chiefs of their villages like Mbile and Atem Ebako divided their villages into two camps of supporters and opponents.

They organized for the torture and detention of opponents like Nasako Besingi of SEFE and victimized the children of opponents by chiding them with the Dr Issidore Timti Scholarship, one of the soft corruption practices of SGSOC

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)
Free, Prior and Informed Consent requires, among other things, that impacted communities be provided with accurate information concerning a proposed project prior to a project's advanced planning stages, and that communities be permitted to use traditional methods of representation and non-coercive decision-making prior to giving or withholding their consent to a project. Communities have the right to seek legal counsel to negotiate agreements that condition their consent. Agreements must clearly and specifically define the land and compensation rights of local communities and any benefits such as employment, royalties, land excisions and so forth. These agreements should be available to all parties at all times.

It would be difficult to argue that SGSOC has implemented a robust FPIC process since the company signed a contract which defined the nature of the project and granted it broad rights prior to any serious stakeholder engagement and certainly without local consent. The Convention was signed in 2009 while the company held most of their public sensitization meetings in 2010-2011. Herakles Farms' CEO rebutted this critique by explaining that the company 'signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the communities in and around our concession area, as well as Common Commitments with local officials.'

A questionnaire was administered to 69 individuals in 18 villages to be impacted by the project to ascertain this statement. While all 69 respondents stated they had been in communication with the company at least once, all but four stated that the company had not made any assessment of their land rights. The four who had witnessed the company assess their land rights all belong to Ekita village, but none feel that SGSOC understands or respects their claims to land rights. 68 of the 69 individuals responded that the company had not conducted participatory mapping in their village, with one person abstaining from comment. 68 of the 69 respondents stated they had not participated in any discussions about 'mitigation, monitoring, benefit sharing and compensation agreements' with one person abstaining from comment. All 69 respondents stated there was no agreement between their community and the company as to how their lands would be used and managed.

Although the sample size of the interviews is limited, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that FPIC has not been respected by SGSOC. It was impossible to verify the exact numbers, but the authors are aware of a small number of communities that have signed MOUs with SGSOC. Yet it appears that these agreements did not pass through representative decision-making channels as many villagers are unaware of their existence. It is unlikely that community members were presented with the opportunity to seek legal counsel when negotiating the existing accords.

SGSOC has stated very clearly it does not intend to compensate local communities but will leave 2,000 hectares of land for subsistence agriculture. It is estimated that 25,000 people depend on subsistence agriculture in the area, meaning that each individual of working age would hold, on average, 0.125 hectares of land, a woefully inadequate size of land. This is most likely the reason why there have been no frank discussions on compensation issues in the area between the company and the communities.

The Basossi, Upper Balung, Nguti, Bima, Ngolo and Batanga people who are going to lose their lands and resources to SGSOC were never formally informed by the project and their consent was never sort.

People losing their lands could not tell to what extent the company was going to clear forests. The losses to be incurred by the communities were imbedded in the Establishment Convention which has never been shown or discussed with the communities. People were treated as if they were not part of the proposed area for the concession to SGSOC.

Chief Dr Atem Ebako of Talangaye village said, 'We do not want organizations like Oakland Institute, WWF, and Green Peace coming here and telling lies to the people.' Chief Dr Atem Ebako takes exception to Green Peace, WWF and Oakland Institute because he believes the organizations were informing and educating the populations on the advantages and disadvantages of an agro industrial plantation like the one Herakles Farms was claiming to set in the South West Region of Cameroon.

How can anyone give his Free, Prior and Informed Consent on an issue or project he does not even understand? It is certain that there are hidden agendas behind the project that the company is concealing.

While the right to FPIC is well established under several international agreements signed by Cameroon, there are no processes for FPIC clearly set out in national Cameroonian legislation. Nevertheless, land regulations in Cameroon contain a number of provisions recognizing and protecting some community rights to land, even in the absence of formal property (land title). Article 8.1 of the 1994 Forestry Law gives rights to use the land and resources for the benefit of neighbouring communities. According to this law, these rights can be expropriated for public utility, subject to the payment of compensation. One could assume that in the absence of a public utility declaration, the common principles of reparation/compensation apply, and any restriction in the right to use land and resources will lead to compensation, either monetary or in kind.

Under this law, for SGSOC's operations, the HGA constitutes a violation of the usage rights recognized by the Forestry Law for the communities living in or around the proposed palm plantation. A portion of the land concession constitutes National Land, equivalent to the non-permanent forest estate (i.e. free of any property rights under current national laws). Another part has been earmarked to be incorporated into the category of Private State Lands (permanent forest estate). In those two classifications of forests, communities enjoy usage rights recognized by the 1994 Forestry Law. However, section 4.2 of the HGA states that 'the Government represents and warrants that all State land in the production area is not encumbered by any [] use rights []'. This appears to be an implicit recognition of customary rights to land and resources, especially on National Lands, in order to plan for transferring those rights to third parties, with approval from the local government and authorities.

The loss of those customary rights should logically be subjected to the right to information and compensation for the communities, which should require their consent, even in the absence of clear provisions in the national laws and regulation to this effect.

In addition to their rights to land, under national laws communities have the right to be consulted (and therefore, implicitly, informed) of all activities potentially affecting their area applies in at least three circumstances. First is the gazettement process. The Forestry Law obliges the Government to consult communities living in an area to be converted from National Land to privately owned land (either to the benefit of the State, of municipalities or individuals). Second is the preparation and the validation process of the ESIA report. The project sponsor is required to consult potentially affected communities in order to document expected impacts of a project and to design appropriate mitigation measures. Third is the granting of land concessions on National Lands, where the process prescribes the involvement of the consultative commission which includes communities' representatives.

While this offers some protection to communities in terms of consultation, concerning FPIC specifically, national laws and regulations are very weak, since they refer to the terms 'consultation' and 'participation', and never mention 'consent' of the communities. Furthermore, national laws and regulations provide no indication in terms of the process or the result to be achieved by the project sponsors during the consultation process. This loophole in national laws is detrimental to communities and prevents the government from objectively monitoring compliance with the legal requirements in this regard.

Environmental Impact Assessment Study
Herakles Farms claims it carried out an Environmental, Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) as required by Cameroon Law. But it will seem SGSOC did not have the required logistics to do a proper ESIA and even as it relied on a firm for the study, it adulterated the findings and published a tampered version to the dismay of environmentalists.

In 1987, GTZ (GIZ), WWF and DFID after in-depth studies proposed that the area straddling the Korup national Park and the Rumpi Hills Wildlife Reserve should be reserved for subsistence agriculture. The report further advised that only local small scale farming will be sustainable and any clearing of large expanses of land must be avoided, as massive clearing will lead to environmental degradation, erosion and global warming and climate change. This report was endorsed in 1989 and has been widely acclaimed for its merits as been scientific and authentic. Unfortunately, Bruce Wroebel, CEO of Herakles Farms rubbishes this report as it rubbishes other reports from Greenpeace, CED, SEFE and Oakland Institute.

He people around the proposed concession area in Mundemba and Toko ask pertinent questions about their survival and the sustainability of the area. They state that Government promised them when it was taking land for the Korup National Park of 129,000 hectares and the Rumpi Hills Wildlife Reserve that the land left will be there for them to live sustainably for the rest of their lives. So when government takes this land today, where do they want them to go?

Chief Nangea of Fabe, a proponent of SGSOC nurseries in Fabe village says Prime Minister Philemon Yang assured them during a meeting in his offices that if it were ever necessary to have more land after they had sacrificed their land to SGSOC, government will carve out land from the Korup national Park to give them.

This allegation flies in the face of conservation and vindicates environmental enthusiast who have emphatically stated that Herakles Farms plantations exposed the national parks of Rumpi, Bakossi Mountains Bayang-Mbo and Nta Ali to squatting and encroachment from the neighboring populations.

The Rumpi Hills Wildlife Reserve is a major watershed watering Cameroon and Nigeria. River Mungo takes its rise from the Rumpi Hills and courses South-Eastwards to the ocean and is canalized into Douala where it becomes potable and is used to water man, crops and animals. The Cross river which gives its name to the Cross River State in Nigeria takes its rise from the Rumpi Hills. Any massive clearing of the robust and pristine rainforest around here will be deleterious to humanity and deal a devastating blow to the environment. Clearing the rainforest in Cameroon impacts climate worldwide and the consequences are far more damaging than the promoters of Herakles Farms want to accept.

All sorts of excuses have been given about the forest being secondary forest and of no value. Here again some ignorance of environmental and ecological facts are in the back of these misconceptions. Secondary forest is quite robust as it springs after pruning with new species and varieties. Perhaps Chief Nangea of Fabe needs to repeat what he told Sarah Sakho` of RFI (Radio France International) to the promoters of Herakles Farms. As a supporter of the project, he honestly and innocently confessed to journalists that his forest that Herakles Farms was clearing was virgin forest and no tree had ever been felled in it.

Bruce Wroebel had derided the reports and allegations of SEFE, CED, and RELUFA as uninformed reports from local organizations without experience. Of course, our local civil society organizations (CSO) should not be wished out of existence by multinationals. These CSOs are the best informed with in-depth knowledge of the local realities. These are the CSOs Bruce Wroebel should be listening to instead of paying attention to bias and interested individuals like Chief Dr. Atem Ebako, Hon Mbile, Daniel Agoons et al.

It will seem Carbon Credits if well channeled might be able to create wealth in the communities while encouraging environmental protection and conservation. In this light, Chief Oben of Manyemen, a proponent of Herakles Farms avers that if Carbon Credits were going to trickle down to his community smoothly without interruption from bureaucratic bottlenecks, he will not release an inch of his forest to SGSOC.

A most laudable contribution to environmental awareness came in 2013 from Ban Ki-moon, secretary General of the United Nations. I will repeat it here to portray the importance the world is giving and has to pay to biodiversity conservation and the environment.

Secretary General's Message for 2013
'Forests are vital for our well-being. They cover nearly a third of the globe and provide an invaluable variety of social, economic and environmental benefits.

Three-fourths of freshwater comes from forested catchment areas. Forests stabilize slopes and prevent landslides; they protect coastal communities against tsunamis and storms. More than 2 billion people depend on forests for sustenance and income, and 750 million live within them.

By proclaiming the International Day of Forests and the Tree, the United Nations has created a new platform to raise awareness about the importance of all types of forest ecosystems to sustainable development.

Forests are often at the frontline of competing demands. Urbanization and the consumption needs of growing populations are linked to deforestation for large-scale agriculture and the extraction of valuable timber, oil and materials. Often the roads that provide infrastructure for these enterprises ease access for other forest users who can further exacerbate the rate of forest and biodiversity loss.

Forests are also central to combating climate change. They store more carbon than is in the atmosphere. Deforestation and land-use changes account for 17 percent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions. As weather patterns alter due to climate change, many forested areas are increasingly vulnerable. This underlines the urgency of a global, inclusive, legally binding climate change agreement that will address greenhouse gas emissions and encourage the protection and sustainable management of rainforests.

Notwithstanding these immense challenges, there are encouraging signs.

The global rate of deforestation ' Ban Ki-moon
Legal controversies and Violations of the Law
A thorough legal analysis of SGSOC's rights to the land reveals a very confusing situation. According to a Host Government Agreement (HGA) signed in September 2009 between the government of Cameroon and SGSOC, the rights of the company include the following:

'The non-exclusive right, franchise, and license for and during the Term to: (i) engage in Production in the Production Area (and subject to the terms of this Convention, in other areas in Cameroon), (ii) develop, manage, maintain, rehabilitate, and expand (as may be permitted herein) the Production Area, (iii) to utilize Oil Palm Products in Cameroon and to supply to local markets and to export oil palm products from Cameroon, (iv) to produce other agricultural products after providing Notice to Government and (v) to conduct such other activities as contemplated by this Convention, in accordance with applicable Law.'

The right to benefit from government support to expand the production area.

The right 'exclusively, within the Production Area, to plant, cut and utilize timber, to the extent the Investor and any Investor Party deems necessary for the construction and maintenance of Infrastructure, without the need to obtain any further authorization or pay any further fees, and for other Investor Activities within the Production Area, subject to Article 10.'

The right 'exclusively, within the Production Area, to take and use, subject to any limitations pursuant to Article 10, free of charge (but not to sell to any other Person without the written approval of Government), such water, earth, stones, rocks, sand, clay and gravel having no significant commercial mineral value other than as aggregate filler or other construction material, as Investor may considered necessary or useful for Investor Activities, without the need to obtain any further authorization or pay any further fees. Any activity conducted pursuant to this Section 3.3(a)(v) shall not be considered mining for purposes of any Law.'

'Carbon Credits: Government undertakes to promptly provide to Investor all certificates, consents, authorizations, and other supports reasonably requested by Investor in connection with the application for or monetization of the Credits.'

However, the government has never stated its official position regarding the proposed investment, including on the validity of the Host Government Agreement. In any case, this agreement cannot rewrite national law and, as such, can only be considered as a framework agreement governing the relationship between the Cameroonian government and the company, which aims at setting the general rules that will apply when the company receives a land concession.

The Host Government Agreement (HGA) does not grant, in itself, any right to a specific portion of the land to SGSOC, despite the reference to an annex supposedly describing the project area, which has remained unpublished so far.

It is our understanding that the description of a proposed concession does not absolve the company from the requirement to apply for a land concession, following the procedure set forth by the existing regulations. SGSOC's application for a land concession should therefore be subject to the existing land regulations in Cameroon, providing for a clear process for the allocation of land concessions.

According to Decree N° 76-166 of 27 April 1976 establishing the terms and conditions for management of national land, land concessions are granted following submission of an application which includes, among other files, a map of the land solicited and a project development programme. Rights to the land are granted in two stages: 1) temporary grants for up to five years and 2) with a possibility of extension to a long lease in case of satisfactory implementation of the activities planned for the temporary grant phase.

Authorities empowered with the right to allocate land concessions are also specified in the Decree. For concessions of less than 50 hectares, the allocation is granted by a ministerial order of the Minister in charge of Lands, and for concession of over 50 hectares, a Presidential Decree is needed.

The purpose of this process is to allow third parties (especially communities, but also the citizens of Cameroon more broadly) to be informed of the allocation, and to eventually challenge the extent or the nature of rights to be granted to the company in question.

The land lease should provide a description of the land granted, including clear limits, both as a way to protect the investor and in order to prevent future conflicts between the grantee and other potential users of the land and resources. In the case of SGSOC's operations, this procedure was not respected. SGSOC does not have a land lease, but has nevertheless been proceeding with forest and land clearing, in order to create a palm nursery in its claimed concession.

SGSOC's clearing is in contradiction to the forest zoning plan of 1995, as part of its proposed oil palm plantation overlaps with the permanent forest estate, where only conservation and/or sustainable logging (with an approved management plan) are authorized. As a result, when the company began clearing the forest, the regional delegate of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife seized SGSOC's bulldozers and issued a notice of illegal logging.

A field mission of the central control unit of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and a report of the European Union's independent forest observer confirmed the illegal nature of the tree felling in the area and a fine was levied against the company.

If indeed SGSOC had obtained valid land rights for the area, the forest management unit would have been declassified and the regional delegation of forests would have no authority to conduct controls in the area.

However, this is clearly not the case since the forest management unit in question was included on list of logging concessions for allocation (to be managed for 30 years) in the July 2012 tendering process.

After having claimed, for some time, that they did not need a land lease, citing the Host Government Agreement, the company is now actively trying to seek a land concession, to comply with Cameroon's regulations.

It should be noted that the HGA is clear on this issue, as section 3.5 states:

Government shall issue, or cause to be issued, all necessary permits, authorizations and land registration certificates required under applicable law for investor to lease and exercise its rights in all of the production area and to provide public notice of such rights of investor.

This article shows that the HGA acknowledges that, by itself, it is insufficient to claim rights to the land and that it requires the investor to fully comply with Cameroon's regulations on State and National Lands.

Nevertheless, the former Minister of Forests and Wildlife signed a letter (disclosed in the appendices of the company's High Conservation Value Assessment) to 'Certify that the entire concessions granted to SG SUSTAINABLE OILS CAMEROON LIMITEDhave been logged and farmed repeatedly over the years and the area is classified as secondary forest.

The concession areas applied for are not virgin or primary forests.' If this were true, it would be in contradiction to the zoning plan of 1995. Furthermore, on 9 November 2012, the current Minister of Forestry and Wildlife provided SGSOC with an authorization to fell trees in the permanent forest estate.

The Minister's decision is an agreement, in principle, to the implementation by SGSOC of its operations on the site they have identified. Given the urgent need to plant palm trees from the nursery, SGSOC is requested in this letter to fell and store the trees themselves. Again, this authorization does not comply with the existing laws and regulations governing forestry in Cameroon.

The right to fell trees cannot be granted to a company for a project which has not been approved by the competent Ministries (the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Land Tenure and State Property in this case).

The Ministry of Forestry is sending contradictory messages: on the one hand, it has levied a fine on the company for illegal felling of the trees in the permanent forest estate. Subsequently, however, it has granted the company with the right to continue the very activities the ministry considers illegal.

In the context of the future implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between the EU and Cameroon as part of theForest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process, these conflicting actions of the Ministry are likely to raise serious questions about its ability to properly assess the legality of operations in the future.

In conclusion, from a legal point of view, the company does not have a valid land title, which is clearly a condition for starting operations, and thus its operations can be considered illegal

Corruption as Mode of doing Business
There has been overt and couched corruption that I will qualify as soft-corruption going on in the dealings of Herakles Farms in Cameroon. It is great wonder how a minister will sign away his country to a foreign business concern at no profit or advantage to his country or the people who have the right of use to the land in question. Louis Paul Motaze will not pretend that he signed the Establishment Convention of 17 September 2009 with SGSOC without a glutted envelop. A minister must be highly motivated under the table to put his signature to a document which virtually auctions part of his country.

SGSOC, in order to win the hearts of people in the communities in the proposed concession area has been giving tons of fish and rice to them to enlist their support. Similarly, SGSOC has organized free medical consultations with surgical operations in Meangwe II, Ayong and Talangaye without the authorization of government.

It is also a wonder that the company without any real gains and pledges will go ahead to grant scholarships to the children of the supporters of its project. It also started boreholes in Fabe and Meangwe II, though they are not yielding water today.

Overt corruption has also taken place with elements of the local administrations having received money from SGSOC at different times and at different levels to enlist their support. Hon Chief Mbile was openly paying out bribes in Kumba on 21 September 2012.

I was informed by people on the ground in Mundemba who had been invited to meet him in Kumba to receive their own share of the cake. The chief of Meangwe II was invited and he turned down their invitation saying he had a handsome retirement package from the police where he served for more than 30 years without a stain.

I called Hon Chief Mbile telling him that it was a shame that an honorable member of the Anticorruption Commission of Cameroon (CONAC) like him should be aiding and encouraging corruption. I warned him I will be advising that he be fired from CONAC because he was an agent of corruption in Cameroon. He only exclaimed that wonderful and tried to know my identity. I have so far denounced him to CONAC and in newspapers and websites around the world. I have been waiting for his defamation suit until I feel like I should sue him myself.

Victimization of Activists and Critical Press
SGSOC has made it a duty to ignore requests for information and interviews from media houses it deems critical of its activities. A filmmaker commissioned by Oakland Institute was turned away from SGSOC head offices in Limbe.

A team of reporters from RFI and France 24 were refused audience and interview by SGSOC media and public relations officer, Franklin Baye. 'We do not like the way you presented the company last year so we do not wish to talk to you.' Franklin Baye told Sarah Sakho of RFI/France 24 in 2012.

SGSOC has also patronized some news organs it deems soft on its bad practices. The company has budgeted millions to pollute the opinions of Cameroonians through these pliable and soft media outfits. Communiqués have been released from SGSOC and published only on pro SGSOC newspapers.

A serious media and public relations officer will use the opinions on critical media as a yardstick to measure its progress. Preferring to be romanced and massaged by hungry gombo journalists is bound to blind a serious establishment to the realities.

While I persistently sounded the truth to the public about SGSOC and copying their CEO, they chose to demonize and characterize me as a radical nuisance good for elimination. I hope they now understand that they need to get me on their side for the truth and the way forward instead of seeking me out for elimination or for some phony suit.

The suspension of the operations of SGSOC, gives me time to focus on my campaign to stop the Catholic Archbishop of Bamenda, His dis-Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua and the corrupt local administration of Mezam Division and the North West Region from dispossessing 300 indigenous ethnic minority Mbororo of their homes, farmlands and razing lands.

Editor's Note:

Fon Christopher Achobang
Department of Linguistics
Faculty of Arts
University of Buea
P.O. Box 63 Buea

(Senior Translator),
Expertise; International Business Translation; Literary Translation,
Medical Translation; Legal Translation, Editing; Proofreading; Translation lecturer.

(Senior Reporter, Social Commentator, Human rights activist)
The Cameroons

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