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Taku Chambers

ADVOCATES OF THE CAMEROON BAR

SENIOR ADVOCATE:

Chief Charles A. TAKU, Esq. (Head of Chambers)

Lead Counsel, UNICTR

Lead Counsel, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Counsel ICC

Honorary Member of the Law Firm of Angus Gloag and

Jonathan Goodman and Co.

ADVOCATES

Caroline MUNGE TIME

Shufai Blaise SEVIDZEM B

Chief NJI Jerome FOTULLAH

AWUNGNJIA Tetchounkwi

Lawrence LYONGA NGANDA

Publications & Decisions

Post New Entry

Publications & Decisions Post New Entry

An encomium to Barrister Chief Charles Fuatabong Achaleke Taku

Posted by Moderator on 14 July, 2021 at 11:35

Field of Study English Private Law,

[Bachelor of Laws (LLB), University of Yaounde Cameroon; Master of Laws (LLM), Field of Study International Law and Legal Studies, University of London];


Erudite and highly distinguished Barrister at Law; advocate for the poor, the weak and vulnerable such as the pro bono cases he did for

exploited CDC cases; reliable and intrepid senior advocate for justice for the abuses subjected to member of the Cameroon Bar Council for many years;

Head of Chambers at Taku chambers; Lead Counsel, UNICTR; Lead Counsel; Special Court for Sierra Leone; Counsel ICC;

Honorary Member of the Law Firm of Angus Gloag and Jonathan Goodman and Co.;

A humble chain breaker; emeritus President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association and a member for life of the governing council of the African Bar Association;

Celebrated Cameroonian International Lawyer, illustrious Lead Counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Special Court for Sierra Leone, International Criminal Court; on the occasion of his 40th anniversary of practicing law [April 14, 1981 – April 14, 2021], by Nchumbonga George Lekelefac, Doctorate Candidate, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany,


 

1. Introduction

 

Last April 14, 2021

I often do daily to update myself on happenings in the world, when

I came across an article by Barrister Chief Taku titled: “April 14,

forty years ago: the eventful journey of a humble chain

breaker.” Reading through the article as the large „the young shall

grow bus‟ made its way with me, together with about 90 other

passengers from Enugu to Lagos, Nigeria, where I had to board my

 

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return flight the following day, April 15, 2021 back to Germany. I

had landed at Lagos, Nigeria on March 3, 2021, and made my way

to Enugu by bus to publish my research book on Prof. Dr. Bernard

Nsokika Fonlon, and four other books titled: „Speak French with

me‟; „Speak German with me‟; „Speak Italian with me‟; and „Speak

Spanish with me‟. I discovered that it was such a memorable day

for one of my dearest and highly revered cum distinguished

mentors. In fact, I consider Barrister Chief Taku more than a

friend. He has been like another dad to me. So, I decided to write

an encomium in honor of such an important day in his life.

Unfortunately, on that day, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, as I have

hinted above, I was in the bus travelling the 12 hour drive from

Enugu to Lagos, in Nigeria. I tried to put on my lap top to begin

writing an encomium for my dear friend, but unfortunately, the

burning Nigerian heat coupled with the uncontrollable singing of

the passengers in the bus did not permit me to have a cool head to

write well. So, I put off my lap top and just listened to the gospel

songs of the passenger. I decided to write the encomium

immediately I arrive Germany. When I got to Germany, my desk

was full with so many other pertinent commitments, which

prevented me from writing this encomium. I am thrilled to publish

the encomium today, a month and three weeks after the

celebration of this important date for Barrister Chief Taku.

Another reason why writing this encomium took so long was

 

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because of the incredible profile of Barrister Chief Taku. Barrister

Chief Taku is unarguably and unquestionably a modest yet noble

and salutary contributor to the international criminal

jurisprudence coming at the heels of the scaling down of the

tribunals where he has worked worldwide, including the start of the

ICTR and SCSL.

 

The year is 1981, the month is April, the day is Tuesday 14, 40

years ago, when the chain of systemic prejudice and cultural

genocide broke loose and the young and vibrant Barrister Charles

Taku was authorized to do pupillage to practice law in the

Chambers of the legendary lawyer and politician Hon B.T.B

Foretia in Victoria. He was the first in several regards. The most

important was being a chain breaker, a role he has played with

determination, faith, humility and fortitude. He is grateful to God

for the journey which he has travelled so far. Coincidentally, the

date of Barrister Taku‟s commencement of practicing law is a date

well known with some of the most important historical world

events: 1) April 14, 1865 – US President Abraham Lincoln is shot

by John Wilkes Booth at Ford‟s Theater in Washington; 2) April

14, 1903 – Dr Harry Plotz discovers vaccine against typhoid

(NYC); 3) April 14, 1912 – RMS Titanic hits an iceberg at 11.40pm

off Newfoundland; 4) April 14, 1981, at 10:21 am PST (1821 UTC),

the Columbia became the first manned spaceship to land in

 

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California. Sixty minutes earlier at an altitude of 172 miles over the

Indian Ocean, astronauts Young and Crippen had taken the space

shuttle orbiter out of orbit; 5) April 14, 1981 was the 16th Tuesday

of that year. It was also the 104th day and 4th month of 1981 in

the Georgian calendar. Thus, it was Divine providence that such an

energetic barrister from Cameroon would begin practicing law on

such an important date: Tuesday, April 14, 1981. Barrister Charles

Taku is presently Counsel at the ICC, and lives in Bowie,

Maryland, in the United States. He worked at the International

Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He was called to the Cameroon Bar

Association as a barrister-at-law in 1984. He has practiced law for a

period of 40 years, covering almost all areas of law practice. He is

among the first generation of international lawyers who were

invited to defend cases in the Ad Hoc Tribunals and now at the

International Criminal Court. He has had vast experience

defending complex international criminal cases. In addition, he has

had vast experience defending cases in Africa and the conflict

areas.

 

2. Encounters Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku

 

It would be interesting for the revered lectors to observe that I

have not yet met Barrister Taku facem ad facem (face to face). I

came to know Barrister Chief Taku precisely in June 2009 when I

was a Spanish Student in Xalapa, Mexico. I was a regular writer of

 

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Vatican updates which I daily posted them on the Legda email

group. I observed that there was this Barrister Chief Taku who was

such a prolific writer and his name began to ring a bell in my

medulla oblongata. What impressed me about Barrister Chief Taku

was the quality and length of what he wrote. This greatly inspired

my skills in writing. In fact, whenever Barrister Chief Taku wrote

and posted any article, I would copy it, print it out and study it

line by line. I quite enjoyed his high vocabulary and refined

English and his use of words. That is how I came in contact with

this great son of Lebialem division, this respectable and honorable

son of Cameroon, Chief Charles A. TAKU, Esq. (Head of

Chambers), Lead Counsel, UNICTR, Lead Counsel, Special Court

for Sierra Leone, Counsel ICC, Honorary Member of the Law Firm

of Angus Gloag and Jonathan Goodman and Co.

 

Later, I was elated to see him on Facebook. I sent him an

invitation and he accepted. We then became closer and I was able

to read more of his writings and comment on them. We chatted

once in a while. On several occasions, he has proof read my writings

despite his extremely busy schedule. I discovered that he was not

only an approachable person, but a highly flexible human being

and humble. Over the years, I have confided in him important

details about my life and our relationship has been mutual and

profound. I look forward to meeting him soon in persona in the

United States. I have a profound esteem for his personality, his

 

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writings and his practical deeds to make the world a better place

for the poor, the marginalized, the voiceless.

 

Startlingly, on October 28, 2020, Barrister Taku wrote this

message to me, after having seen all I was doing to promote the

legacy of Prof. Dr. Fonlon: “My Dear George: Great... Indeed I

followed in Facebook. If you have access to the archives of Dr Fonlon,

check for an interview I had with him which was published on the front

page of Cameroon Times in about 1979 or 1980. I was a student in the

University of Yaounde and a correspondent for Cameroon Times. The

Publisher then was Chief Jerome Fultang Gwellem and the Editor was

Zac Angafor. The interview was Headlined front page in the historic

newspaper „God saved my life‟: Dr Fonlon. Interviewed by Charles

Achaleke Taku in Yaounde. Dr Fonlon had an accident at Sabga Hill

in which his Volkswagen sommersaulted on that hill and he survived

miraculously. I conducted the article at his residence down central

town Yaounde probably behind Abia or there about. It was a lengthy

article that touched on several issues relating to his philosophy of life

and politics. I remember him saying that he regretted that there was a

dearth of genuine scholarship in the university system. Go back to

persons you have interviewed such Dr Lantum and asked if he

remembers Dr Fonlon having an accident at the Sabga Hill as you

descend to Ndop from Bamenda and if he remembers if it was

published in Cameroon Times. If you pursue it, you may get the copy

of Cameroon Times. The Gwellem Family may help you have access to

 

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Cameroon Times archives. I was paid 2500 frs for the interview

making that my first salary ever. The article also brought my name

into public focus. Zac Angafor is somewhere in the USA, probably

Arizona. Chief Gwellem died in a motor accident in Yaounde.” I was

so thrilled and I profoundly appreciated his contribution to my

research on Prof. Fonlon. Infact, I eventually asked Prof. Lantum

about the Sabga incident and he narrated to me in detail the

incident. Thank you Barrister Chief Taku.

 

3. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: A dedicated soul

 

Like many Southern Cameroonians of his generation, Barrister

Chief Taku lived his childhood formative years in systemic

injustice. The transfer of the sovereignty of the Southern

Cameroons from one colonial contraption to another had profound

cultural, social, political and economic impact on him and his

generation. His Bangwa ancestral homeland suffered from German

devastating campaign and was neglected by the British colonial

administration. The area briefly gained some spotlight during

Southern Cameroons government and a short lived democratic

space preceding and after October, 1, 1961.

 

While in Primary School, Barrister Chief Taku was subjected

to political victimization because of the political orientation of his

mother. To remedy the situation, his mother withdrew him from

that school and sent him to continue his primary education in CDC

 

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Laduma Mukonje Rubber Estate near Kumba where his aunt

lived. On their way to Kumba, his aunt and young Taku were

subjected to harassment and humiliation by fierce looking French

speaking Gendarmes in several control posts along the road. This

occurred despite the fact that his aunt procured two laisser-passers

at an exorbitant cost. The pain and shame of the humiliation they

suffered endures in Barrister Chief Taku‟s mind.

 

While in the CDC plantation, Barrister Chief Taku watched

and lived the injustices of everyday life. He prayed and asked God

to give him an opportunity to come back one day to defend those

labourers. The chances for the realization of his prayers occurred

when he enrolled in the Faculty of Law in the University of

Yaoundé.

 

He was among a majority of English-Speaking students who

were denied scholarship. They decided to organize a strike to press

for justice. Barrister Chief Taku found himself leading the strike

whose success changed his life. From thence, he convinced himself

that he had to apply to do pupillage to enable him to become a

lawyer. The systemic injustices defined his life, opened his eyes

and directed his destiny towards becoming a lawyer.

 

Barrister Taku notes that this event in his life came with a

mission and a commission to defend, protects, free and

give strength to the weak, the poor and the oppressed. He has been

 

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faithful to the mission and the commission. I was quite humbled

and touched by what he wrote in this regard: “This is a mission

and a commission of honour. These are the very essence of

life which is humanity at its best and closer to God. God, we

know, breathed the spirit of life so that we may live and serve

him in humility and in faith. Yes, in humility and faith; for

these are the true attributes of greatness.” I quite admire his

humility despite his academic ladder and profile cum international

experience.

 

Narrating about his secondary school days, Barrister Taku

wrote: “Each time, that I reflect on these attributes, I remember the

emphatic gestures with which my secondary teacher explained to us, the

parable of the rich fool. Despite the reality of this parable, the

butchery of the innocent lives of the weak, the poor and the oppressed;

the thievery by the rich from the poor, primitive accumulation of wealth

and the genocide of innocent people to satisfy the power ambition of a

few, continue unabated. I dedicated these 40 years leading the fight to

protect the majority poor, the weak and oppressed victims from

these criminal kingpins; leaving the ultimate victory to God.”

From 1976 – 1990, Barrister Charles Taku studied at the

University of Yaounde Cameroon, and earned a Bachelor of Laws

(LLB), Field Of Study English Private Law. At the University of

Yaounde, Barrister Chief Taku hesitate to characterize some of his

lecturers and professors as prominent because of their involvement

 

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in the politics of deception, violence, injustice, pain and

excruciating pain. Some of his professors and lecturers were Peter

Yana Ntamark, Professor Joseph Owona, Stanislaus Melone,

Nicole-Claire Ndoko, Aletum, Lekene Donfack Charles Etienne,

Emile Mbarga, Charly Ndobede, Sanda Oumarou, etc. The most

honourable of all was Professor Kisob. Several of his classmates

are honourable people. They are too many to name. It saddens

Barrister Chief Taku that some of his classmates are active in

prosecuting the genocide in his own homeland. However, Dr

Christopher Fomunyoh and Hon Justice Nkengla are persons of

extraordinary character, distinction and honour.

Coming from the English speaking of Cameroon, the challenges

he faced in Yaoundé were many. Barrister Chief Taku studied in a

hostile environment. French Speaking students subjected them to

ridicule by shouting and screaming, “Anglo, Anglo”

“Biafrais”Biafrais” every day they came to the Amphitheatre or

University restaurant; indeed, everywhere in the University

campus. They were disproportionately denied scholarship. English

speaking lecturers were discriminated against in promotions and

humiliated. It was a cultural, linguistic, political and economic

warfront for their survival. In short, it was a laboratory for the

actualization of the cultural genocide which has manifested itself in

its most violent form on the watch of the free world. They

struggled for their survival on a daily basis. Unfortunately, some

 

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among them became traitors and agents of the oppressor. In that

capacity, they betrayed, persecuted and oppressed them. To this

day, they have constituted themselves into so-called fringe power

elites, elites associations, political party and intelligence spy

operatives.

4. President Decree signed by Ahmadou Ahidjo on April 14, 1981

authorizing Barrister Chief Taku to become a Lawyer with the

Chambers of Barrister BTB Foretia

 

Barrister Chief Taku came across a decree signed by President

Ahmadou Ahidjo on April 14, 1981 authorizing him to become a

Lawyer with the Chambers of Barrister BTB Foretia, because a

Presidential dispensation was required for an authorization to do

pupillage to become a lawyer. Once a person was awarded a

government scholarship, there was an inherent obligation to work

for the government for ten years upon graduation from the

university. That policy was enforced mainly for the private law

practice which was tightly controlled by the President of the

Republic. The persons Barrrister Chief Taku consulted before

submitting his application advised him against, stating that earlier

applicants had unsuccessfully waited for six years. Barrister Chief

Taku had an option to go to ENAM, the School of Magistracy but

was apprehensive that the strike he led would stand in his way and

he would never have a promotion as a magistrate. Besides the

 

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magistracy was very corrupt and used a tool of oppression.

Barrister Chief Taku preferred to defend the oppressed rather than

become a potential corrupt tool of oppression.

5. Barrister Chief Taku’s choice of becoming a lawyer

Barrister Chief Taku‟s choice to apply to get into legal practice

was deliberate and informed by circumstances which may be

developed into a book. A combination of circumstances and

experience informed his choice to become a lawyer. Here are some

of them as he clearly stated: “The democratic space and the liberties it

brought, were recklessly interrupted and eviscerated. Here is how it

happened. Empowered by Ordinance no 60-20 of 22 February 1960,

regulating the organization, administration and service of the National

Gendarmerie and Military structure, Sadou Daoudou Minister of

Defence under Ahmadou Ahidjo, signed Order No 65 of 13 February

1963 creating a Gendarmerie Company in West Cameroon. This

effectively kick-started a reign of terror which was felt in my homeland.

The terror intensified, with President Ahmadou Ahidjo signing Decree

no 66-DF-133 on March 17, 1966, “extending the state of emergency

in certain areas of the Federated State of West Cameroon”,

particularly, Mamfe Division, Kumba Division, Victoria Division

and Bamenda Division. My Bangwa homeland fell within the Mamfe

Division and therefore, under the state of emergency. During this

 

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formative period in my life, I felt the effect of the brutality and abuse of

power under the state of emergency.”

6. Barrister BTB Foretia’s relationship with Barrister Chief Taku

Barrister Chief Taku comments that Hon Foretia was a very

brilliant lawyer. People who knew him will testify that he was

corruption free. He was disciplined, strategic and deliberate in

every action he took. There was no waiting or learning period

under Hon. B.T.B Foretia. He prepared cases with Barrister Chief

Taku and provided him crucial advice on how to present cases in

court. The first tool of great advocacy he told Barrister Chief Taku,

was demeanor towards the court, his colleagues and the

participants in the case. Barrister BTB Foretia told Barrister Chief

Taku that as Counsel, he should maintain his composure as natural

and as calm as possible and must avoid trying to adopt the

composure of someone else. While rendition was important, the

organization of the presentation was the driving force for rendition

to be effective. Barrister BTB Foretia was courteous to all

participants in a court process and did not ever take advantage of

the inexperience of young counsel to attempt to ridicule them.

7. Barrister Chief Taku’s first case

Barrister Chief Taku‟s first case with Barrister BTB Foretia in

the Court of Appeal, was before a panel of judges led by Chief

Justice SML Endeley (as he then was). They were counsel for the

 

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respondent in a criminal appeals case. When the turn for counsel

for the respondent to make submissions, Barrister BTB Foretia

asked Barrister Chief Taku to rise and respond to the submissions

of the Prosecutor. Barrister Chief Taku stood up, summon courage

and began making his submissions, using appropriate language,

demeanor and composure exactly as his mentor - Barrister BTB

Foretia - has told him. Barrister Chief Taku was calm, deliberate,

organized and responded point by point to the Prosecutor, each of

his points supported by authorities. Occasionally, he stopped to

invite questions from the panel. They eventually won the appeal.

From that moment when that Hon. B. T. B Foretia put him on

feet in the Court of Appeal in Buea, and he has never sat down or

looked back.

 

Later, from 2008 – 2010, he studied at the University of

London, and earned a Master of Laws (LLM), Field Of Study

International Law and Legal Studies.

 

8. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: Into the arena

 

Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku has dedicated more

than two decades of this eventful career in international practice in

many international courts and tribunals which were established by

the international community to fight impunity. During this time,

he visited battlefields in different countries and witnessed

unimaginable human suffering.

 

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He went in as a lawyer but was blessed with the human value

of sharing the pain and suffering of persons at risk and in dire need.

This provided him an opportunity to share the values of love and

sharing which were implanted in him by his beloved mother: Helen

Atabong Asaba Fontem by contributing to give back to the

suffering people, the true essence of humanity which they deserve.

I have found the joy in recognizing in these children, women and

men, dead or alive through my humanitarian engagements and the

several trials in which he has participated, the face of humanity to

which they are all connected.

In the same vein, Bibiana Taku wrote this on April 23, 2020:

“23rd April 2002 to 23rd April 2020, Nwa'Asaba Fontem, O'tabong

Asaba, Helen Atabong Asaba, my mother you left us to join your

ancestors and your creator. Celebrating your life and the huge legacy

you left is bitter - sweet. Sweet because your spirit is in us and you are

interceding for us from above. Sweet because your

successor, Fuatabong Achaleke stepped into your shoes very aptly and

continues to be the voice of the voiceless that you were. Sweet because

you didn't live to see the devastation of the palace that you were very

proud of. Bitter because your physical presence brought so much

assurance that I felt like you should live forever. I thank you for being

my role model and my mentor. Yes, you continue to guide and mentor

me from above. Thank you and I thank God for his gift of you to us.

Continue to enjoy eternal bliss.”

 

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9. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: The month of April

 

Barrister Taku noted regarding the month of April: “This

occasion falls in the month of April, which is the mythical month of the

Saints in my family, from Fontem Asonganyi and his first son

Asabanchi Fontem, Fontem Defang, Mama Helen Atabong Asaba

Fontem, Fontem Njifua and several others too many to name.

This occasion, 40 years ago, was not an innocent co-incidence. It

occurred because it is the month when these Saints pay greater attention

and are united in prayers and supplication to the living God for me, the

family they left behind and all persons world-wide who are engaged in

the worthy mission and commission in which I am engaged. I am

grateful to them and their fighting spirits which live on through their

blood which is flowing in my living veins. The history books and the

museums in imperial Germany kept records of the bravery of Fontem

Asonganyi which have prolonged the battle for freedom and justice long

enough for me to come on board to lead a world-wide crusade for the

restitution of all the works of art which were looted during the German

incursion more than a century ago. These arts are today in museums

in Germany, USA, France and the Netherlands. The blessing of these

40 years helped me to focus my attention on the search for these arts and

their lost cultural significance in our lives and in our time.”

 

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In October 1999, Chief C. Taku was appointed Lead Defense

Counsel at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for

Rwanda (UNICTR).

 

In July 2005, Chief C. Taku was appointed Lead Defense

Counsel at the Special for Sierra Leone.

 

From July 2005 – September 2012, he worked at the SPECIAL

COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE, LEAD DEFENSE COUNSEL,

for a duration of 7 years and 3 months, as a LEAD COUNSEL.

 

In March 2012, Chief Taku represented a client at the ICC in

March 2012 and the African Court on Human and People‟s Rights.

The above professional assignments are still ongoing. He has

successfully litigated a number of cases at the United Nations

Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, and in national

jurisdictions. His objective has been to contribute to world peaceful

and a just world order through just, fair, and balanced trials, that

are consistent with the values stated in the UN Charter, articles

1(3) 55 and 56. He believes that political skewed, selective,

discriminatory and victor‟s justice undermine the very foundation

of credible justice and breads impunity.

 

His objective has been to contribute in the enthronement of

durable and credible international legal order through credible

trials. He headed an enterprising law firm comprising lawyers who

 

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have distinguished law practice is diverse areas of law practice. He

cherish the chance he got over the years to know in person and

practice law with distinguished colleagues from many parts of the

world, Africa, The USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. He is proud of

being among the first generation of international Criminal Lawyers

who have proved their mettle contributing to the development of

International law for the benefit of future generations.

 

From April 2015 – Present, he worked at the Employment

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Lead Defense

Counsel at ICC, ICTR , SCSL, for a duration of 6 years and 2

months, in the Hague, Arusha, Freetown.

 

Since April 2015, he is Lead Defense Counsel in the Bemba

article 70 case (Situation in the Central Africa Republic) for Mr

Narcisse Arido cummulatively Associate Counsel for Mr Dominic

Ongwen ( Situation in the Republic of Uganda).

 

From October 25, 1999, he was appointed Lead Counsel at

ICTR.

 

From October 1999 – Present, he worked as a Lead Defense

Counsel, at UNICTR ARUSHA TANZANIA, for a duration of 21

years and 8 months. He was primarily responsible for defense and

trial strategy and he supervised counsel, legal assistants,

investigators and staff in his defense team.

 

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From March 2005 – July 2013, he worked at the UNHRC,

Counsel, for a duration of 8 years and 5 months, location at

Geneva, in Switzerland.

 

In July 27, 2005, he was appointed Lead Counsel at the Special

Court for Sierra Leone.

 

In March 28, 2010, he was counsel for Dr David Matsanga in

further investigation on the Situation in the Republic of Kenya at

the ICC at the Hague.

 

From April 2010 – April 2013, he worked in the African Court

on Human and Peoples‟ Rights, Lead Counsel for a duration 3

years and 1 month, location in Arusha Tanzania. There, he was

counsel for Mr Denis Atemnkeng in a case he brought against the

African Union (AU) for orders directing the African Union to

amend the Protocol establishing the Court to conform with the

Constitutive Act of the AU to grant access to a majority of persons

on the African continent.

 

He has written and published on International Criminal Law,

and he represented clients at the African Court on Human and

Peoples‟ Rights in Arusha Tanzania, the UN Human Rights

Committee in Geneva, represented major for firms in the Oil,

Finance and Insurance sector and advised governments, statesmen

 

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and politicians on the African continent. He was legal counsel of a

major University in Africa.

 

From March 2011 – April 2013, he worked at the ICC,

COUNSEL AT ICC, for duration of 2 years and 2 months. He led a

team of very competent lawyers, legal assistants, investigators,

consultants and interns in the defense of an accused before the

Tribunal. He was primarily responsible for the defense and trial

strategy.

 

From April 2015 – Present, he was the Lead Defense Counsel

at the International Criminal Court at International Criminal

Court at The Hague, for a duration of 6 years and 2 months.

 

He was a Counsel for Mr Pierre Desire Engo, former Minister

and senior government official in the government of Cameroon at

the UNHRC. He successfully proved 7 violations against

Cameroon. Although the UNHRC ordered the release of Mr Engo,

the state party has still not complied with the decision. Further

action for his release is ongoing. Mr. Engo was finally released from

prison custody a few weeks ago but restricted from travelling out of

the territory of the Republic of Cameroon.

 

10. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: Testimony from

Charlotte

 

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On February 26, 2014, Charlotte testified that she worked with

Barrister Charles but at different companies: “I worked with Charles

Taku on the research and production of my Master‟s Thesis whiles a

student at the University of London.” She continues: “I wrote my

thesis on the possible repercussions of the ICJ‟s judgment on the land

and maritime dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria (Bakassi). My

dissertation earned a merit grade. Mr Taku is one of the most

inspiring and dedicated leaders I have ever worked with. His advice

and recommendations were always data-driven, analytical and

structured. He provided beyond my expectations all the support and

coaching needed. Given the opportunity, I would certainly work with

him again.”

 

11. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Man of faith

 

Barrister Charles Taku wrote on April 14, 2021: “Today, in this

occasion, I faithfully recommit my determination to serve God, the

Merciful, the Liberator, the Truth, the Life, the Light and the Saviour

with all the strength in me.” We see in this statement a tremenduous

demonstration and testimony of a man with a profound faith, hope

and charity and his total commitment to God.

 

12. Testimony on Barrister Chief Taku by Beatrice Achaleke

 

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On April 13, 2021, Beatrice Achaleke wrote this interesting

piece: “Dear Chief, Today you look back at more than three decades of

an amazing career in the legal industry that spans from the moment

you graduated from law school to the moment you took up your first

case to establishing your own legal practice - Taku's Chambers in

Buea. From there, you defied all challenges, worked tirelessly on your

career, and the hard work took you up the professional ladder to be

among the first generation of international lawyers invited to defend

cases in the Ad Hoc Tribunals and now at the ICC. Along the way,

you have acquired vast experience in defending complex international

criminal cases around the globe. Today you look back at a career path

filled with challenges that you had to overcome, moments of self-doubts

and successes, acquaintances, different working environments, sleepless

nights of deliberations and tough decisions. Today is the perfect day to

celebrate your achievements and to let you know how how much we see,

appreciate and try to follow your big footsteps in our small ways.

Thank you for always challenging us to greatness through your own

example. Congratulations on your anniversary in the law industry.”

 

13. Testimony on Barrister Chief Taku by Kelvin Taku

 

On that same day, Kelvin Taku wrote this moving piece:

“Growing up, my Father and my Grandmother taught me many

valuable lessons, specifically: to be kind to everyone and to never give

 

23

 

up. These simple but important lessons have shaped my life in its

entirety. My dad is the kindest man that I have ever met. He never

talks bad about others, always helps other people, and always tries to do

the right thing no matter what the cost to himself. We are lucky because

he is our Dad. Please join me and my siblings in congratulating our

Father and our Hero for a wonderful 40 years career of fighting for the

voice of the voiceless.”

14. Testimony on Barrister Chief Taku by Ajong Mbapndah L

 

On May 20, 2021, Ajong Mbapndah L wrote a tribute on

Barrister Chief Taku titled: “ A Friend For The Oppressed-Chief

Charles Taku Reminisces On A Forty Year Law Career.” In that

tribute he stated: “Barrister Chief Taku has answered the call of the

oppressed with the same verve in a law career that recently clocked 40

years. From court rooms in Buea, Cameroon, to the Hague in Holland,

Barrister Chief Taku has answered the call of the oppressed with the

same verve in a law career that recently clocked 40 years. From the

perilous mission of defending Southern Cameroon‟s activists in the

90s, to seeking justice for victims of the Rwandan genocide, and serving

as a strong voice at the ICC against scapegoating Africans, Chief Taku

has left an indelible mark in the course of his sterling career. In a walk

down memory lane, the erudite Lawyer generously shares his

experiences and offers his take on seminal developments in across

Cameroon, Africa and the world at large.”

 

24

 

15. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: On the strike by Lawyers

 

Barrister Chief Taku commented that the issues which

Barrister Agbor Balla and his English Speaking colleagues raised

were not new. Learned senior lawyers from Gorgi Dinka, F.W

Atabong, M.N , Weledji, B.T.B Foretia, Luke Sendze, Chief E.E

Ebai, Ben Muna, N.T Tabe and thereafter their generation fought

the same battle but were ignored. When Cameroon applied to join

the Commonwealth, B.T.B Foretia submitted a petition to Chief

Emeka Ayaokwu Secretary-General of the Commonwealth on

behalf of the South West Lawyers in which the lawyers complained

inter alia: “As a matter of government policy, there are persistent

attempts to wipe out the common law system. At unification, we

envisaged a system where the two legal systems will co-exist side by

side......Under this system, there is the independence of the judiciary,

guarantee of human rights, the courts play the rule of unbiased umpires

between individuals and the state and regulate inter-state relationship

especially in matters of international trade.” N.T Tabe writing on

behalf of the Common Law Lawyers Association also complained

inter alia: “There has been a systematic and deliberate erosion of the

Common Law system, its ideals, principles, practices and procedures as

obtained and intended to continue in the territory of the former West

Cameroon.” Agbor Balla and our colleagues were highlighting a

systemic injustice which has defined the reckless impunity with

 

25

 

which a once free people have been subjected to systemic abuse and

persecution despite six decades of protests.

16. Barrister Chief Taku and the first All Anglophone Conference of

1993

 

Barrister Chief Taku commented that the records showed that

the idea of first All Anglophone Conference (AAC1) was first

initiated by George Ngwane, Bate Besong, Francis Wache, Vincent

Anu, Verwesse and his humble self. Barrister Chief Taku had

resources to move the idea ahead in two areas. He had his law

office which would be used as the secretariat and the ability to

obtain a permit directly from Governor Etame Massoma for the

conference to hold. George Ngwane, the ultimate diplomat had the

mandate to convince political party representatives for the

Tripartite Conference to accept to host the conference as conveners

purposively to obtain the collective views of our people for the

conference. The AAC1 was a lost opportunity to avert the war

several years after and a peaceful solution to the ongoing carnage

and genocide.

17. Barrister Chief Taku: some of the high-profile cases handled in

Cameroon

Barrister Chief Taku gave equal prominence to all his cases.

The most prominent cases which he handled are hundreds he did

for the poor, the weak and vulnerable such as the pro bono cases he

 

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did for exploited CDC cases. CDC General Manager John Ngu

preferred out of court settlements rather than face him in court.

The CDC knew that, with Barrister Chief Taku, the labourers had a

strong advocate on whom they could rely on to seek justice for the

abuses they were subjected to. Barrister Chief Taku defended

Ebenezar Akwanga and about 83 Southern Cameroonians who

were abducted from their homes and court-martialed in Yaoundé

for alleged attacks against Gendarmerie Camps in parts of the

North West. That case was a forewarning of the current crisis in

many respects. This was not an isolated case. The Military

Tribunal and court-martial of civilians has been around as a tool of

oppression since 1962.

 

18. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: member of the Cameroon

Bar Council for many years; President of the International Criminal

Court Bar Association and a member for life of the governing

council of the African Bar Association

 

The peers of Barrister Chief Taku elected him as member of the

Cameroon Bar Council for many years; President of the

International Criminal Court Bar Association and a member for life

of the governing council of the African Bar Association. He is

grateful to his colleagues in different courts and tribunals for giving

him an opportunity to serve and to contribute to the enthronement

of the culture and the cause of the rule of law. He is particularly

 

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grateful to the distinguished lawyers of Taku Chambers for their

professionalism and the outstanding successes they continue to

record in courtrooms and professional environments around the

world. The most distinguished Hon B.T.B Foretia was an

astounding lawyer and a fearless crusader for justice. He put

Barrister Taku on his feet during his first appearance with him in

Court. From thence, he has not relented these forty years.

 

19. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: Man of Gratitude

 

Barrister Chief Taku is grateful to the women and men with

whom he has been engaged in all the aspects of the administration

of justice and the struggle for a just, free and peaceful world.

Although they play different roles we are united in a common

objective, in which justice is the sole winner. He is grateful to his

family and the entire Taku and Fontem families. Mbe Taku, his

dad was a hero and a warrior while his wife Mama Helen Atabong

Asaba Fontem was a distinguished community leader, education

advocate, politician, development agent, philanthropist and an

extraordinary crusader for justice. Barrister Taku‟s wife Antonia,

his children Kelvin, Barbara, Ngwing and Atabong are his best

friends of all times.

Above all, Barrister Taku states that “there is a time in one‟s

life when a sister is everything in one‟s life. My sister Bibiana Taku

 

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was a class and bench mate, a friend and a manifestation of the endless

love of God to me and humanity.” Barrister Taku‟s „Law Practice

Career‟ is unquestionably and unarguably the eventful journey of a

humble chain breaker.

 

20. Barrister Chief Taku and international practice

Barrister Chief Taku noted that the Court martial of Southern

Cameroons civilians in the Military Tribunal in Yaoundé was

intermittently reported by VOA with the news of the trials in

Arusha. The confrontation was between Barrister Chief Taku and

the President of the Court-martial Col. Manga who became very

partisan was reported on the VOA. Col. Manga attempted to stop

Barrister Chief Taku from raising objections to the jurisdiction of

the Court-martial over abducted civilian Southern Cameroonians

from their homes out of jurisdiction for trial in a language they did

not understand and without the possibility of calling witnesses. In

error, he thought he could bully Barrister Chief Taku. Barrister

Chief Taku reminded him it was not possible. In anger, he

suspended the case and gave a long adjournment. The next day,

Barrister Chief Taku was at the Supreme Court where he filed a

motion for conflict of jurisdiction on December 10, 1997 and left for

Tanzania to enroll on the roaster of lawyers at the ICTR. Barrister

Chief Taku returned and left for Washington DC where he was

interviewed several times over the VOA by Scot Steanne. Barrister

 

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Chief Taku exposed the sham to the world. One day, a phone call

was received in Barrister Chief Taku‟s Chamber in Buea asking him

to report to ICTR, Arusha Tanzania. Barrister Chief Taku arrived

on October 23, 1999, a week after Mwalimu Julius Kambarage

Nyerere on October 14, 1999 to begin his international practice

that has continued till date.

 

21. Barrister Chief Taku and cases on the Rwandan genocide in

Arusha

 

Barrister Chief Taku stressed that the lesson from the trials in

Arusha and the Special Court for Sierra Leone are that war is bad

for everyone and that the sanctity of human life must be the

preoccupation for all. Africa must have a robust mechanism for

the early detection and prevention of conflicts on the continent.

When conflicts occur, he continues, it must take prompt and

transparent action to address their root causes. Finally, Africa

needs to establish a transitional justice mechanism to fight

impunity and atrocity crimes in the continent. Such a mechanism

must target all perpetrators no matter their status. The sad reality

is that the ghost of colonialism very much alive in Africa. Africa is

in need of genuine freedom, economic sovereignty, democracy and

visionary leadership, he concluded.

22. Barrister Chief Taku and the International Criminal Court (ICC)

 

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Barrister Chief Taku is one of the first persons to make the

charge that the ICC was selectively targeting Africa. He repeatedly

made the charge during international conferences. Barrister Chief

Taku was invited by Professor Richard Steinberg of the University

of California Los Angeles to write a chapter on this matter in book

he edited on the ICC with a forward by Fatou Bensouda the Chief

Prosecutor of the ICC. Barrister Chief Taku elucidated that the

ICC is not a foe of Africa. There is no doubt that there are atrocity

crimes committed in Africa which warrant ICC intervention.

Barrister Chief Taku‟s concern was the politicization of some of the

cases such as the interventions in Cote D‟Ivoire, Kenya and Libya.

Barrister Chief Taku was concerned about foreign influences and

the manipulation ICC interventions to target and resolve political

problems. When a court targets only the vanquish in a conflict,

that becomes victor‟s justice. Barrister Chief Taku was also

concerned that in its two decades of existence, the Court was still

very much an African Court. It did not represent the face of our

diverse universe that it was established to serve. Barrister Chief

Taku underscored the fact that even in African conflicts, the

perpetrators of atrocity crimes are not all Africans. Barrister Chief

Taku cited the example of arms for minerals merchants who are the

driving forces behind some African conflicts in which atrocity

crimes are committed. Many of them are not Africans. They too

must be prosecuted, he insisted.

 

31

 

23. Barrister Chief Taku: Reading of the current situation of the

Anglophone crisis in Cameroon

Barrister Chief Taku has avoided using the name „Anglophone‟

since it became a derogatory name used to stigmatize and ridicule

us in the University of Yaoundé. Barrister Chief Taku‟s

involvement in the search for solutions to the conflict and the

genocide is well known. There are no realistic internal solutions to a

conflict which is international in nature. Barrister Chief Taku

insists that the Government of Cameroon should submit to an

international conflict resolution mechanism that is consistent with

article 33 of the UN Charter for the resolution of this conflict such

as the Swiss Mediation or any other credible international

mechanism. There is no military solution to this conflict, he stated.

Barrister Chief Taku makes it crystal clear that Cameroon must

accept an internationally endorsed mediation to address the root

causes of this conflict. The war declared and prosecuted by

Cameroon in which atrocity crimes are committed in a large scale

shocking the conscience of humanity, is unjustified and

unwarranted, he noted. He notes that some persons have reduced

the debate about the conflict into support of federalism and

support of the actualization of the independence of the Southern

Cameroons. According to Barrister Chief Taku, whether federalism

or independence, the Republic of Cameroon has not accepted any

of them and has not even accepted a peaceful option to war and the

 

32

 

ongoing genocide. So far, the historical basis of the case no matter

what, is not yet acceptable to the Republic of Cameroon. He

further expounds that Cameroon is under the illusion that it can

impose a military solution to the conflict. He states that Cameroon

cannot and will never win in battle, in mediation or an

international court. Cameroon believes it is playing for time, but

time is not on its side. For him, time will only crystalize and

galvanize international opinion to seek accountability for the

crimes committed in the war while the territory becomes

ungovernable. Only an international mediation process to address

the root causes may resolve the crisis and bring about peace, he

concluded.

 

24. Barrister Chief Taku: dedication to lasting peace

Barrister Chief Taku address where he fell short,

demonstrating the humble and human person that he is. He has

dedicated so much time and energy working for peace in his

homeland and in all African conflicts. The slow pace of

international intervention in the crisis and genocide in his ancestral

home in particular, is disturbing. The devastation of war is

unwarranted. The crimes must stop, he insisted, and perpetrators

held accountable. It is disturbing for Barrister Chief Taku to see

massacres, genocide, butchery of innocent civilians in my

homeland. Barrister Chief Taku sees young Africans fleeing Africa

 

33

 

and dying in the Sahara, Mediterranean Sea and South America

escaping dictatorship, mass murder and harsh economic conditions,

in the midst of plenty, while their peers in other continents are

being trained to become agents of development for better living

conditions for themselves, their communities and their countries.

Barrister Chief Taku has spent a considerable amount of time

fighting these injustices, but they are persisting.

25. Barrister Chief Taku: President of the International Criminal

Court Bar Association

 

Barrister Chief Taku was elected by his peers from all parts of

the world as President of the International Criminal Court Bar

Association. Barrister Chief Taku was also elected as a member for

life of the Governing Council of the African Bar Association. I was

the vice President when Karim Khan QC, the new Prosecutor of

the ICC signed the very first cooperation agreement between the

ICCBA and African Bar Association. Barrister Chief Taku

presented a historic address to the Assembly of State Parties

Conference of the ICC on the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute

and also the Plenary of the opening of the judicial year of the ICC.

Barrister Chief Taku was invited by the Foreign Affairs Committee

of the House of Commons to make a submission on a discrete issue

on the UK multilateral treaty regime. During his eventful

professional journey, Barrister Chief Taku was invited to address

 

34

 

the annual conference of the Federal Administrative Judges of the

United States. Barrister Chief Taku has adviced and represented

governments in international and national courts with respectable

outcomes. His greatest satisfaction resides with his interaction and

assistance to the poor, helpless people whom he found in conflicts

in several parts of Africa. In Nyange Parish and Nyangasambu hill

in Rwanda, with amputees in Sierra Leone, with refugees, who fled

the scourge of war all over Africa and are in Europe, the human

condition in Africa is not good at all.

26. Barrister Chief Taku and young Lawyers out there

Barrister Chief Taku reminded young lawyers what B.T.B

Foretia – his mentor - told him when he embarked on this journey.

He advised them that honesty and hard work are the keys to

success. That corruption kills the spirit and soul of humans. That

character matters. And that although justice is administered by

humans, true justice belongs to God and that with God, they will

succeed. He adds that they must know that the frontiers of the

world have expanded well beyond their town or country of origin.

And that technology has brought the world into their bedrooms,

their palms and their suitcases. They need to get out to the world

and network with their peers in other continents. They must free

themselves from the shackles of ignorance and break the

 

35

 

asphyxiating chains of tyranny which have held a majority of

people hostage.

27. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku : Interests

 

His interest include: International Criminal Court, Civil Rights

Defenders, United Nations Investigative Team to Promote

Accountability against Da‟esh/ISIL Crimes (UNITAD), LAW jobs

- Networking for LEGAL PROFESSIONALS - Legal jobs - Legal

Careers

 

28. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Licenses and

certifications

 

Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku has licences in Barrister at

law, JRR Certification, UNDSS and UNBSIFT certification.

 

29. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Skills and endorsements

 

He possesses skills in International Law, Legal Research, and

Criminal Law.

 

30. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Polyglot

 

Barrister Chief Taku is a polyglot. He speaks the following

languages: Bamileke languages, Bangwa, Creoles, Pidgin English,

English, French and Swahili.

 

31. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Project

 

36

 

Barrister Taku has carried out projects on Contextual

Foundations of International Criminal Jurisprudence.

 

32. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: Prolific Writer

 

Barrister Chief Taku is a prolific writer who has written more than

100 articles. He is the author of “Contextual Foundations Of

International Criminal Jurisprudence: Selected Cases An Insider‟s

Perspective Paperback – 17 Nov. 2012, English edition”. In order

not to make this encomium too long, I have decided to write

another encomium dedicated to the writings of Barrister Chief

Taku which I will publish soon.

33. Conclusion

The 40 years anniversary of practicing law provided Barrister

Taku an opportunity to train and mentor young colleagues from all

legal cultures, races from all the continents who are today, leading

lawyers in their respective countries and in international practice.

They remain professional connected. This closeness is what the

beauty of this profession is about. He is fascinated by the sense of

enquiry, curiosity and mental alertness of my interns. Barrister

Taku them the offspring of modern technology because of the

remarkable contributions they have brought to workplace during

these changing times. Many of them are today, successful

academics and lawyers in many parts of the world. The extensive

 

37

 

profile and international experience of Barrister Chief Taku speaks

for itself. I wish Barrister Chief Taku the very best on the ruby

jubilee of practicing law. May the good Lord continue to bless him

with long life, good health, constant joy and happiness, and the

realization of all his projects and dreams. Amen.

 

Respectfully, affectionately and prayerfully submitted today for

publication, June 8, 2021.

 

Written by Nchumbonga George Lekelefac, B. Phil. (Mexico),

S.T.B. (Roma), JCL/MCL. (Ottawa); Dip. in English, French,

Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German and Dutch; Doctorate

Candidate, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany,

June 8, 2021.


Categories: Chief Barrister Charles A. Taku, Publications, Social/Religious

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