December 2, 2020
The Court of First Instance of Ndokoti in Douala has sentenced an ivory trafficker to one year in prison and to pay a fine of 200.000FCFA.
Manyombe Samuel Joël was charged with illegal possession and trafficking of ivory tusks following his arrest last May. He was arrested alongside MakembeLydie and TchiekouThéophile who were equally charged for similar offences but given a one year suspended sentence term for 3 years each. They were equally ordered to pay a fine of 200,000 FCFA. The court judgement was passed on November 26.
They were arrested on May 7, 2020 for unlawful possession of two ivory tusks weighing 26kg by the Littoral Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife. The operation and legal follow up of the procedure was carried out with the technical assistance of LAGA, a wildlife law enforcement organization.
Some law enforcement experts applaud the decision by the court to hand a one-year sentence as stipulated by the 1994 wildlife law regulating the sector. This is a rare judgement among several court rulings, that respect the terms of the law governing the sector.
The wildlife law states that anyone found in possession of part or whole of a protected wildlife species is considered to have killed the animal and is liable to a prison term of 1 to 3 years and or pay a fine of 3 to 10 million FCFA. The Court of First Instance of Ndokoti is therefore playing its role in the fight against wildlife trafficking and probably showing the way for other courts around the country. The commitment of an effective judiciary in the fight against wildlife criminality is very important, some of the experts who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
In a related story, the ivory case at the Ambam Court of First Instance against a suspected ivory trafficker was also heard on November 26 and adjourned to December 17, 2020. It was adjourned for proceedings to begin in earnest next hearing and to enable the lawyer representing MINFOF fully apply herself to the legal procedure involved in representing the state in such cases.