A top member of the Cameroon judiciary has been arrested in what is seen as part of a major crackdown against dissent in the country.
Lord Justice Ayah Paul Abine was picked late Saturday from his home in Yaoundé city, sources disclosed.
The former presidential candidate is also the Deputy Attorney General of the country’s Supreme Court and an opposition leader.
Lord Justice Ayah Paul Abine, who is also chairman of the Popular Action Party (PAP) had earlier been summoned to appear before an investigator at the Secretariat of State for Defence (SED) on Friday, but he ignored the invitation arguing the legal procedure to summon a sitting magistrate wasn’t followed.
“Six armed men from SED forcefully arrested him from his residence. They had no arrest warrant and when Ayah Paul Abine stated what the law says, he was told he had no choice than to comply,” a family source said.
Those are the scene of the arrest we prevented from making or receiving calls, sources said.
The government is yet to comment on the arrest, but speculations are rife that his seizure is linked to a wave of clampdown on some Anglophone activists in the country.
Justice Ayah is a supporter the now banned Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) that has been advocating for the country’s return to the federal system of government.
The government on January 17 outlawed the consortium made up of teachers, lawyers and other civil society organisation in the Central African country.
Cameroonian human rights lawyer and Chair of the consortium, Felix Nkongho Agbor-Balla together with his Secretary General, Dr Fontem Neba were recently arrested and have since been detained at the SED in Yaoundé.
Justice Ayah, who had an 11-year parliamentary stint as member of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) and the opposition People’s Action Party, now called Popular Action Party (PAP), contested the 2011 presidential election in Cameroon.
President Paul Biya won the disputed poll and Justice Ayah Paul came at the 5th position.
Even when he served as a CPDM member, Justice Ayah Paul Abine was an outspoken critic of the 2008 changes to the constitution, which removed term limits that could have prevented President Biya from standing for re-election in 2011.
According to him, the changes were “not democratic”, and took Cameroonians back 200 years.