English-Speaking Activists in Cameroon Given Jail Sentences



Francis Fontem

Ako Eyong

Elvis Kale


English-Speaking Activists in Cameroon Given Jail Sentences


By Tegha O. Tegha


A military tribunal in Cameroon sentenced three English speaking detainees to life imprisonment in connection with unrest that has paralyzed business in the English-speaking zones of the central African state.

Among them is newspaper vendor Francis Fontem, manager of a newspaper kiosk at the Mile 17 Bus Station in Buea.

Francis Fontem is accused of threatening Cameroon’s sovereignty when a stockpile of anti-government and pro-separatist propaganda flyers were discovered at his kiosk by a mixed contingent of security officers.

The suspects were arrested separately in 2019 and charged with conspiracy to terrorism, rebellion against the state, incitement of civil unrest, breach of the constitution, provoking civil war by inciting the people to take arms against each other, and propagation of false information.

Shortly after the verdicts were read on 04 October 2022, Elvis Kale, one of the accused, demanded that the presiding judge announce their sentences and stop wasting time.

Ako Eyong said he had expected a death sentence and added that all English speaking detainees were threatened on a daily basis by prison workers.

The suspects were also ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 as damages to the civil parties, including the state of Cameroon.

They will each also have to pay $1,000 or spend additional two years in jail.

EbiEbi, one of the leaddefense attorneys, said they would file an appeal.

It is worth noting that Francis Fontem was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia given that he has been on the run since January 2019. If arrested, he is expected to join his co-accused in detention at the Buea Central Prison.


Some people are asking for a return to a federal state Cameroon had practiced for about a dozen years after its 1960 independence. Some are asking for the independence of the English speaking from the French speaking regions of Cameroon, but President Paul Biya has repeated on several occasions that national unity is not for negotiation.


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