Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Freedom of expression: a close friend of Biya condemns the president's efforts

By deciding to have the host of Amplitude FM set in motion, the Director of the Civil Cabinet once again shines the spotlight of the defenders of freedom of expression on the magisterium of the one who presides over the destinies of Cameroon.

Unless there is a last minute change, a confrontation is scheduled today between Martinez Zogo 'and the complainant Ms. Mvondo Ayolo. Detained since Friday in one of the cells of the Sed (Editor's note. State Secretariat for Defense, erected as an annex to the central prison of Yaoundé-Kondengui), the head of chain of Amplitude Fm was interviewed yesterday by the public prosecutor at the court of first instance of Yaoundé-administrative center. The latter would have decided to extend the police custody of the famous tribune, indicates a source. 

According to sources familiar with the matter, the presenter of the program "Embouteillage" on Amplitude FM was dragged before this court by the director of the civil office (Dec) of the Presidency of the Republic, Samuel Mvondo Ayolo. Who accuses him of insulting his wife. Several signals from the magistrate's office indicated that a warrant would be issued against the media man after the hearing. 

Yesterday during the day, in a desperate move, the Network of Independent Audiovisual Communicators (Intermedia) published a press release apologizing to the offended couple, regarding the "malicious remarks which were made about [their] place by certain members of [his] network ”. "We are committed to taking internal measures, so that in the future such behavior will no longer be recurrent," it says. But this act of contrition seems to have had no effect. 

Beyond the facts alleged against Martinez Zogo, it is more the bellicose attitude of the Dec that detonates. If we agree that no offense or defamation should be tolerated by the press against any citizen, whoever he may be, the relentlessness of the former Cameroonian ambassador in Paris is of those who make disorder in these times of all-out socio-political crises. 

Indeed, if the law on social communication gives the right to those who feel defamed to go to court, it also allows them, in the first instance, to wash their honor through a right of reply. It is the refusal to distribute this reply that manifests bad faith, and even the intention to harm the respondent.

However, when the animator was arrested, by elements of the General Secretariat for Defense in charge of the gendarmerie, Samuel Mvondo Ayolo had not thought it necessary to use this approach, which is also preferred by several Cameroonian leaders to put over the fray. Everything happens as if the Dec had chosen the hammer to kill a fly, an attitude which suddenly rubbed off on the entire executive of the country. 

Indeed, if ever Martinez Zogo was sent to prison, which observers, and even more defenders of the press would retain, it would be yet another attack on freedom of expression by the regime of Paul Biya. Another bad message passed by the government to the profession, will we read soon in the reports, with unimaginable consequences on the image of Cameroon abroad. No one will hold the cause. 

The posture of the Dec is all the more to blame as never, never, the top of the state has never filed a complaint against a journalist. Paul Biya always observes a balance of great sage, faced with all the outrages poured against him through the press. Only a few zealous, from time to time, are responsible for using this double-edged sword. It is the same for his wife, Chantal and their children, attacked non-stop on paper, in the audio-visual than on social networks. 

Like their head of state, husband and father, they always choose to let people speak. That does not make them faibies, on the contrary, his silence makes the presidential family a model of spiritual and moral elevation. The closest collaborators of Paul Biya, who is also recognized as having the right to seek justice and compensation, should be inspired by this example. On the contrary, the attempt to refer them to the courts, rather than serving them, turns out to be devastating for the one who presides over the destinies of Cameroon.