Zang III, Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, for Fako has seemingly incurred more that he had anticipated from the Social Democratic Front, SDF, party after he ordered the arrest and 24-hour detention of its Limbe I Electoral District Chairperson, Godden Ndenge Zama on February 3, 2016 with the latter now threatening to sue the administrator.
Zama was arrested for protesting against the demolition of makeshift structures along major streets by the Limbe City Council and the fact that “the council is demolishing homes while it is actively collecting taxes from makeshift structures it owns in the markets”.
“We are currently talking with our lawyers and examining all possible avenues for a lawsuit and I think we have a lot of support from people within and out of the community who think that we should actually sue the SDO through the administrative court,” Zama told The SUN.The SDF is considering taking court action against the SDO for what they qualify as his excessive abuse of power and violation of the constitution.
The Limbe I SDF Electoral District Chairman said his party will plead the court to fine Zang III for “violating the constitution, denying citizens the right to peaceful protest, illegally destroying the property of law-abiding citizens and for illegally detaining him”.
On why he had initiated a protest in the first place, Zama said he felt that for the demolition process to have proceeded smoothly, the council should have started by demolishing its own property.
“There should be equity in justice. What the council is doing is discriminatory, punitive to the poor and so I was compelled to stand in defence of the rights of the people. You have to ask the SDO why he detained me in the first place. I think the right to housing and peaceful protest is protected by the constitution of this nation. I think the SDO was involved in excessive use of his powers,” Zama said, justifying why the courts must call SDO Zang to order.
After a 24-hour stay in a cell at the Central Police Station in Limbe, Zama says he is more than determined to protect the interest of thousands of Cameroonians who are victimised everyday by the reckless actions of those in power.
“This detention hasn’t stopped us in any way. In fact, we are not going to move a muscle. We are going to hold strong to the position we have taken,” he stated, adding that “the council should start by demolishing and reconstructing most of the market infrastructure in Limbe to include the New Town Market, the markets in Down Beach and sokolo. Most of those markets are constructed with wood and are makeshift structures.”
Reminded that the council had given a three-year period of grace to owners of makeshift structures and that plenty of sensitisation was done within this period, Zama laughed and said:
“The council should have used the three years to demolish and reconstruct its own structures. They had three years to effectively communicate and look for a viable means to resettle some of these people. The council did not do that. It was completely slow in carrying out its duties.”
On whether his action was intended to reap political capital ahead of imminent elections, the local opposition party leader said the SDF is out to protect the interest of the masses and not selfish interests.
“I think everything has to be put into perspective. As I have always said, this isn’t about me. It is about the people in Limbe who have lost their homes, who sleep on the streets. It is about the over one thousand people in Limbe who live under the threat of their homes being demolished. The council should rethink and call an emergency meeting to redress this situation,” Zama said.
On whether the SDF is against development, Zama said they are trying to keep the heart and the soul of the city together.
“The SDF is against any development policy that is discriminatory; that unfairly punishes the poor and protects the rich. There should be equity in development. The council requires that makeshift structures along the road are demolished and requests that such structures be replaced with skyscrapers. Can someone in a wooden house build a skyscraper? We had more than 8,000 votes in the last elections and as such, we must protect the interests of these people who so believe in us.”
Zama said they will soon offer support to “those homeless and hopeless persons affected by the ongoing demolitions in Limbe”.