Ngoh Ngoh, Other State Personalities Cited As Witnesses For Martinez Zogo’s Family

Apr 29, 2024

By Yerima Kini Nsom

As the various parties in the Martinez Zogo murder case compile the lists of witnesses, the Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, and some other senior state personalities have been cited as witnesses of the civil party. The civil party in the case is fronted by the wife of the slain journalist, Madame Dorothée née Nzie.

A report broadcast on Equinoxe Television on Tuesday, April 23, quoted the lead lawyer of the Martinez Zogo’s family, Barrister Calvin Job, as saying that there are some high-profile personalities in their list of witnesses. According to senior reporter, Guy Zogo, who filed the report, the Director of Cabinet at the Presidency of the Republic, Samuel Mvondo Ayolo; the Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso; and the Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze, among others, feature in the list of witnesses for the civil party. 

There are other witnesses who are expected to testify in court in tandem with section 322 of the Criminal Procedure Code. It was equally hinted that the members of the police cum gendarmerie joint Investigative Commission that carried out the preliminary inquiries on the murder case, will testify in court as prosecution witnesses in the list of the Examining Magistrate.

The Post learnt that defence lawyers are citing the former Examining Magistrate at the Yaounde Military Tribunal, Florent Aimé Sikatti II Kamwo, as their main witness. Their claims are predicated on the fact that on December 1, 2023, the then Examining Magistrate reportedly issued a statement, announcing the release of two key suspects, businessman, Jean Pierre Amougou Belinga, and the erstwhile Director General of External Research, Leopold Maxime Eko Eko. 

According to the release, which was later dismissed and disowned as fake news by its alleged author, the two suspects were going to be released from pre-trial detention at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde, on claims that there was not enough incriminating evidence against them.

The Post learned that the former Director of Operations at the Directorate General of External Research, Lt. Colonel Justin Danwe, who is at the centre of the murder case, is likely not to present any witnesses. This is because he has never denied that he is the one who coordinated the operations that allegedly led to the assassination of the journalist Martinez Zogo, on January 17, 2023. When the lists of the witnesses will finally be submitted by the various parties of the case in court, the matter will hit an accelerated kink in the next hearing on May 6. 

During the second hearing session on April 15, the court addressed some preliminary concerns of the defence and the civil parties. As a response to their demand, the court authorised them to have access to the case file. The question as to whether the state would be treated as a civil party or an accused party also arose during the court session.

In his submission, one of the defense lawyers, Barrister Charles Tchougang, argued that the state should not be allowed to pass as a victim in the matter because it did not incur any damages. To him, for any person to be a civil party in the case according to the law, he must have incurred direct damages in the situation. 

The lawyer said the State is civilly responsible for the murder of the journalist because the 13 elements of the DGRE who allegedly killed Martinez Zogo used State material. Such facts, he insisted, clearly disqualify the State from pretending to be a civil party in the case. But the State, represented by DGRE, stated that it did not give instructions to anybody to commit such a gruesome act on a citizen. The lawyer of the State said the State would defend itself because it has nothing to hide. The defence lawyers equally argued that the wife of Martinez Zogo, Madame Dorothée née Nzie, did not qualify to constitute the civil party. Going by them, her marriage certificate is fake. 

Barrister Charles Tchougang argued that the document, which was issued at Ebebda in the Lekie Division of the Centre Region, carries Martinez Zogo, which is the artistic name of the journalist, and not Arsene Salomon Mbani Zogo, which is his real name. The court rejected such an argument, thereby, allowing the wife of the journalist to constitute the civil party. The court equally rejected the request of some defence lawyers to the effect that court sessions be given live media coverage in order to enhance transparency in the trial. The list of witnesses will be officially submitted in court in the next session on May 6.