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By Godfrey Olukya 12-11-2012

A Nigerian journalist, Baature Edua Mvochou, faces a charge of unlawful assembly in Cameroon.

He is co-charged with a Cameroonian journalist, Martin Yembe Fon, who works for a local newspaper called The frontier Telegraph.

Mvochou is the editor of African Drum magazine. The headquarters of the magazine is in Nigeria.

According to international journalists protection body, The committee to protect journalists (CPJ),  the court heard his defense today and the case was adjourned until March 14.

CPJ quoted his lawyer, Ajong Stanislaus Anuaboudem saying that his efforts to stop the charges failed.

The two journalists were arrested while on duty on  October 1st, 2012. They insist that they were wrongly arrested while covering a gathering at a local church.

Fon said, ‘We entered into the Church to cover what was taking place. While in the church, we took pictures of the over 100 activists and church officials praying. Midway into the prayers, a large contingent of policemen invaded the premises with police vans, ordering all to walk into the vans or be brutalized.’

Together with the group arrested in the church, the journalists were taken to Buea central police station. After making statements, they were detained for ten hours.

Next morning they were taken to court and charged with unlawful assembly under Section 231(a) of the Cameroonian Penal Code.

The charge reportedly carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of 100,000 CFA francs ( equivalent of 200 US dollars ). Fon alleges that they were released on bail at midnight on October 2, after six hours at the courthouse, Fon said.

CPJ Africa advocacy coordinator, Mohamed Keita said, ‘Martin Yembe Fon and Baature Edua were apparently inconvenient witnesses to a crackdown on a gathering of secessionists, an issue of national public interest the Cameroonian government would rather suppress.’

He has requested Cameroon authorities to drop the charges against the jounalists

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