Lawyers of Anglophone extraction in Meme Division, South West Region Cameroon are experiencing hard times as their clients remain trapped in the bushes owing to security threats The National Times has investigated.
A couple of lawyers who agreed to respond to our findings on condition of a concealed identity said, the challenges of their profession have been compounded given that most of their clients are not traceable.
Meme Division is Cameroon’s most vibrant cocoa producing basin. Disputes over cocoa plantations and other associated misunderstandings have always offered lawyers an opportunity to counsel and make money in the process.
One of the lawyers told the National Times that “things are not easy for most of us… any lawyer whose clients are mostly farmers in the villages must be going through hell now…. You go to court for a matter to be heard, your client cannot be reached… the problems farmers use to bring to us to help them seek justice are not forth coming because most of them have escaped into the bushes”. The advocated averred.
Another advocate said, he has been to court in the last three weeks with nothing to boast of professionally or financially.
“Normally, the matters involving my clients are pasted on the court’s notice board.. yet the general tendency of recent is that, only those clients who live in Kumba show up… The others we cannot tell what is happening to them…. So usually we end up in a situation wherein judges keep postponing matters because clients are out of touch… we hope for normalcy to return”.
Beyond these, a few others we convinced into sharing their experience with us narrated similar situations. Their accounts point to files which have idled in chambers for months untouched.
The consequence of the seeming stalemate is a sharp decline in the income of lawyers who have always made a fortune from farmers. Swift engagements with files along legal corridors and other offices around Kumba known to most of these lawyers have diminished.
Meme Division alone plays host to at least 150 lawyers. Their services are always in high demand during the peak of the cocoa season. Yet within the context of the unstable social climate in the North West and South West Regions, separatists’ crusade against established state judiciary institutions is making the jobs of lawyers less profitable.