Outrage has continued to trail the ‘summary’ arrest and detention of a prominent African tech leader, Rebecca Enonchong. According to reports in Cameroon, Rebecca who is a global figure was arrested for contempt of court.
According to human rights activist and president of Cameroon’s Peoples Party (CPP), Kah Walla, Rebecca’s arrest was allegedly carried out without a warrant or summons and without concrete charges. He said there was only a “plainte verbal du Procureur General” which is essentially a verbal request by the Attorney General.
According to reports in the Cameroonian press, Rebecca was being investigated in a family case with his brother. When she realised that her investigation was been handled by several investigators, she requested to the General Prosecutor that her case should be investigated by a single inspector.
The Attorney-General reportedly took this as an offence and on Tuesday, August 10, requested her immediate arrest for contempt and to be remanded in custody at the Gendarmerie Legion in Douala. But her arrest and detention haven’t gone down well with members of the public.
Cameroonians, activists and members of the international community haven’t taken the news well and are making their voices heard especially across social media where the hashtag #FreeRebecca is already trending.
Human rights activist, Kah Walla says her arrest is an indication that illegality and injustice know no limit in Cameroon.
“Her lawyers have received no written complaint. The statement from the Gendarmerie says that the PG (Procureur General) says that there was contempt. Illegality and injustice in Cameroon knows (sic) no limit,” he said.
Prominent Pan-African tech network, Afrilabs where Rebecca serves as a Board Chair has issued a statement strongly condemning her arrest while expressing disappointment with the Cameroonian government and demanding her immediate release.
“We are alarmed by the news of Rebecca being held illegally by the Cameroonian government. This is a blatant disregard for the rule of law. The information available to us indicates that there was neither an arrest warrant nor charges levelled against her,” the statement reads in part.
“Rebecca is probably the biggest English voice we had out there and all she did was advocate for us and the next generation,” Becky said. “Why is this happening to her? I hope this is cleared soon.”
Founding Director of Vanguard Africa, Jeffrey Smith described the African tech leader as a glimmer of hope in Cameroon while calling for the authorities to release her.
“Rebecca Enonchong has been outspoken on the need for democratic governance and respect for human rights as a foundation for good business. No wonder corrupt Cameroonian authorities are again seeking to silence her,” he said.
Meet Rebecca Enonchong
Rebecca Enonchong is a 54-year-old entrepreneur who has been described severally as one of the most influential tech leaders in Africa. Born in Cameroon but currently based in the United States, she is the Founder and CEO of AppsTech, a company providing enterprise apps solutions since 1999.
She is also the Cofounder of I/O Spaces, an inclusive coworking space in Washington, USA. She’s the Chairperson of the African Centre for Technology Innovation and Ventures which supports entrepreneurs from at least three tech hubs in Cameroon.
She’s a board member at Ventures Capital for Africa, Digital Africa, WHO Foundation, Eneza Education, Suguba, Djibouti Telecom, US Exim SAAC and the UNECA Centre for Digital Excellence. Of course, she chairs Afrilabs board.
Rebecca has won the World Bank and World Economic Forum Awards and has been listed by Forbes as one of 10 female tech founders to watch out for. She has been described as always available and always ready to answer by professionals who know her personally.
Her case has been billed for trial on Thursday at the Tribunal de 1er Instance in Bonanjo, Douala.
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