Close to four years as President of the general Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association, what balance sheet?
I don’t know whether I’m the right person to outline my balance sheet. But if you insist I will be snappy and leave the details to the nearly 4000 lawyers I served. When I took over the bureau of the General Assembly, I created a bank account for the purpose of transparency. Just like I brokered peace between the former President of the Bar Association and President of the General Assembly less than a decade ago, during my stewardship, I addres - sed problems lawyers tabled. I also ini tiated a club of past Presidents of General Assemblies to serve as an advisory body to all structures of the Bar. Each time I had to take a decision in my capacity as General Assembly President, I checked with them. There is no way you can dissociate peace crusading from me. During my tenure as President, I worked relentlessly for peace to return to the two English-speaking Regions of Came - roon. Among other demands by Common Lawyers, I raised the concern of the non-availability of the English version of the OHADA Law to the Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, and he instructed its translation.
What made this Bar election different from others?
Having seen the flaws of previous elections, I decided to work against them recurring. To check fraud, I introduced the single ballot paper system, which is the first of its kind in Cameroon. Valida - tion of proxies and transparent ballot boxes were other measures taken to puncture any rigging attempts. More so, the elections were equally expeditious in the sense that it was organized in a day and a half and not in three or four days like in the past.
As President of the General Assembly, what would you say is the legacy you left? More than ever before, you gave value to that position.
It is a man that makes an office and not the reverse. I have valourised that office. People now fight to be President of the General Assembly whereas formerly they were going for the post of President of the Bar because there is money there.
Why didn’t you succumb to calls to run for a second mandate?
I said no to the avalanche of calls because I had announced in my acceptance speech following my election in 2015 that I will do only one mandate. And I stood by my word.
Detractors say admission into the Bar Association was marred by irregularities during your tenure of office. What’s your take on this allegation?
Unlike previous years, I was not part of the panel that handled the exams. It will, therefore, be pretentious for me to give an opinion without evidence. Also, the bureau of the General Assembly has nothing to do with admissions into the Bar Council.
Nowadays, there is a mad rush to enroll into the Bar Association. Do you become a lawyer or you are born a lawyer?
God has a plan for everybody. Some people are born with the gift of advocacy while others develop it as they grow. In my case, the articulate nature of the lawyer of the Santa Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative, which my father headed made me to develop interest in the profession while still a child. In 1982, I passed the entrance exam into ENAM, but preferred becoming a lawyer. Some family members were angry with me. In 32 years of legal practice, I’m a lawyer of international repute, whose firm has groomed many lawyers, who are practicing across the globe.
Has any of your children followed your professional footsteps?
Oh yes! Two of my children- Vanessa and John Halle, who studied and trained abroad are lawyers. They are part of the 16 Barristers I employ in my law firm. They are doing great. When I’m not around, I’m confident the Nico Halle and Co. Law Firm is running well.
Why didn’t they work abroad after their tertiary studies like it is the craze among youths?
One of the contracts I signed with all my four children is that they must come back home after their studies and training abroad. I encouraged them to get into the private sector and help to build their country.
Is the involvement of your children in the running of your Law Firm not a sign that your retirement is near?
Whether you like it or not there must be continuity. Retirement is not in the vocabulary of lawyers. I go to court when I want because I have lawyers who can adequately represent me.
Many people question how Nico Halle manages his multiple functions?
When you have projects and you hand them over to God, you can go to sleep. Another secret of mine is that I’m very good at delegating. The best leaders in the world delegate.
Let’s talk love. What kind of father and husband are you?
I’m a father who is very strict, but very humble, respectful and loving. I love my wife, Justine, to the fullest. In the next two years, we will, by God’s grace, celebrate 40 years of our marriage. Our love is only growing from strength to strength.