BY ATIA TILARIOUS AZOHNWI
The Douala Military Court has dropped all charges against journalist Mimi Mefo Takambou, deputy Editor-in-chief in charge of the English desk at Equinoxe Television two days after she was released from the Douala Central Prison where she was under pre-trial detention.
She was detained on Wednesday, released on Saturday and charges against her dropped yesterday Monday, November 12, 2018.
Her incarceration on Wednesday, Wednesday, November 7 sparked outrage in various circles of the country, as her colleague journalists and rights defenders have condemn the act, chiding it as a move to intimidate journalists and crackdown on the press.
In a statement issued by her employer, Equinoxe Television, they condemned Mimi’s arrest and called for her release, saying;
“Equinoxe Television strongly condemns the incarceration of Mimi Mefo Takambou, journalist and deputy editor-in-chief in charge of the English desk at the Douala Central Prison on the night of November 7, 2018.
“Regarding the fact that Mimi Mefo Takambou did not commit any crime while exercising her duties as a journalist, we are asking the competent authorities to take all necessary measures for her immediate release,” the statement read.
Followers and fans of the celebrated Cameroon female journalist and newscaster, also joined in condemning her arrest, and demanded that she be freed and allowed to practice her profession in respect of the constitutional provision for freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Others chided the manner in which she was treated, and opined that if she did something unprofessional, the issue should have been handled at the National Communication Council, where issues of that domain are handled, and not a military tribunal.
The 29 year-old journalist and founder of Mimi Mefo Info, an online news platform was arrested on the night of Wednesday November 7, after many hours of interrogation at the Bonanjo Gendarmerie Legion.
Prior to her arrest, she had been tendered a summons where she was expected to appear before the Gendarmerie Legion in Bonanjo, for charges of fake news and cyber criminality. Her case was postponed twice. According to one of her lawyers Barrister Tamfu Richard, her arrest was based on a new count of infringement on state security. He also said on social media that the alleged facts behind Mimi’s detention were based on her reporting on the killing of an American Missionary, Charles Trumann Wesco.
Before being kept under custody, she denied having written any fake article to support the Ambazonian movement, and revealed to the BBC that she had received numerous threats from individuals based on her job in reporting especially on the Anglophone crisis.
In the face of the current circumstances, some Anglophoe journalists of the private media have condemned the intimidation of their fellow colleague; Elie Smith, a Cameroonian journalist considers this act as ‘‘a crackdown of press freedom in Cameroon.’’ According to him, journalists must be sincere in their support, and stop acting as informants of state security services.
She was exceptionally freed on Saturday, November 10 but the charges still dangled over her head. When she appeared before the Douala Military Court on Monday, November 12 along with close to fifty lawyers of her defence team, the military state prosecutor made a submission for the matter to be discontinued.
The matter is said to have been discontinued on the instructions of the President of the Republic. The President of the Military Court ruled in favour of Mimi Mefo, a judgement which is a total acquittal and discharge of the case – a nolle prosequi.
It is hoped that a similar pressure will be put for the release of other detained journalists including Mancho Bibixy Tse, Thomas Awah Junior, Akumbom Elvis McCarthy and Michel Biem Tong.