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21.02.2020 Feature Article

Nomen Estate Land Grab saga: When Umpires become Players

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When senior superintendent of police Helen Essoka Dina resigned from the Cameroon police force, she said “....I am victim of gross injustice and abuse of power by my hierarchy; I am victim of human rights violations by my hierarchy; I fear for my safety because of death threats from my bosses; my health has deteriorated badly of late, after the long periods of torture I have suffered in the hands of my hierarchy.”

Helen's predicament captures some of the issues and worries around the Nomen Estates Land Grab Saga.

The preliminary investigations were carried out by the Buea police department. Investigations concluded that the land belonged to Nomen George Tchaptchet. Superintendent of police Helen Bessem Njoh became interested in the land and grabbed a plot on the disputed property. At the same time she became part of the cabal fighting, threatening and disturbing Nomen George Tchaptchet from quietly enjoying their estate.

Abusing her office and powers, the superintendent emboldened others to grab more land and file nuisance suits against Nomen George Tchaptchet. Superintendent of Police Eric Anagho working at South West territorial surveillance encroached on the Nomen Estates just when the administration had placed an injunction on any development of the land. Anagho uses his police position to intimidate people from entering the land on behalf of Nomen George Tchaptchet.

If superintendent of police Helen Essoka Dina “... was for many months made to suffer injustice, traumatizing...” her to the level of quitting her job, then Nomen George Tchaptchet should be congratulated for standing up to the encroachers and harassment by administrators, magistrates and police for five years ending with his shooting on 19 January 2019.

Magistrates who come to the disputed land as umpires end up as rugged players exchanging roles with grabbers and abusers of their offices. This wanton show of conflict of interest goes unpunished and make a laughing stock of Cameroon.

For a bargain to dis-inculpate Asong LAWRENCE for FRAUD, the presiding magistrate in a case of encroachment received two hectares as bribe to let a criminal go free. Whereas one of the few incorruptible judges in Cameroon, Joseph Malegho Aseh had ruled in 2005 that none of the people squatting on the land owned it and that the owner was unknown, subsequent judges on the land did not draw wisdom from this un-appealed ruling. By implication, everybody acquiring land on Nomen Estates after 2005 did it knowing they were not buying from the rightful owner.

The infamous land grabbing saga in Fako Division is only possible because of intractable corruption and a nebulous of administrative injustice. The land department complicates matters by complicity in the fraud and administrative errors they make to deny people their right to their property.

Nomen Estates has been occupied and developed for over 60 years with an abundance of cocoa, coffee, fruit trees and a farmhouse. By 1976 Cameroon Land Tenure Law, possessory rights belong to the person who has developed land. Such land is not subject to prescription, alienation or attachment. Even the state must compensate the first occupant who developed land before expropriating it for public interest. How did any land and surveys agents find it normal to demarcate Nomen Estates for sales without the expressed opinion of Nomen George Tchaptchet falls in the ambit of administrative harassment, negligence and corruption.

The regional order was signed on 28 April 2017 and published on the national daily

Cameroon Tribune on 4 October 2017. Cameroonians were duly informed of this executive act.

A regional order is the highest administrative act resolving any dispute as to official recognition and registration of land in favour of an applicant pursuant to the 1976 land law. Office holders in the South West Region have not only despised this document but have gone ahead to encourage resistance and rejection of the ORDER.

Cameroon is frightfully corrupt with people taking the laws into their hands. It is in this context that encroachers on Nomen Estates picked up guns to shoot Nomen George Tchaptchet on 19 January 2019. If justice had been delivered the outcome could have been different. Bias and interest pushed almost all segments of a functional state to abuse their power leading to the harassment, threats of life and attempted murder of Nomen George Tchaptchet.

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Fon Christoper Achobang
Fon Christoper Achobang , © 2020

The author has 73 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: FonChristoperAchobang

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