Cameroonian Catholic Bishop Laments Being Undermined in Catholic University Controversies

Bishop Michael Miabesue Bibi of Cameroon's Buea Diocese. Credit: Buea Diocese

The Catholic Bishop of Buea Diocese in Cameroon is lamenting the protracted controversies in the administration of the Catholic University Institute of Buea (CUIB) and affiliate institutions despite attempts to bring about normalcy, including that of the Vatican.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Sunday, March 13, Bishop Michael Miabesue Bibi says the administration he dismissed is to blame for the continued controversies, and that some disgruntled members have “aimed at undermining (his) decisions”.  

Controversies at CUIB started in June 2020 when Bishop Bibi, then Apostolic Administrator of Buea Diocese, made changes at the Catholic institution by appointing Professor Victor Julius Ngoh as Vice Chancellor, a position previously held by Fr. George Nkeze Jingwa. 

Members of the University Council disapproved of the administrative change and dragged Bishop Bibi to court.

In his March 13 statement, Bishop Bibi bemoans the fact since June 2020, “sadly still, up to this moment, some of the members of the then Administration of CUIB have resorted to diverse means aimed at undermining the decisions I made, and in the process, they have created confusion in the minds of God's people and people of good will in the Diocese of Buea and beyond.”


The Cameroonian Catholic Bishop says that when he assumed the leadership of the Diocese of Buea as Apostolic Administrator in December 2019, the bank accounts of CUIB, CUIB Elementary Entrepreneurial English Nursery and Primary School, and CUIB Entrepreneurial High School were held at three banks.

At the time, Bishop Bibi says, although the Emeritus of Buea Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Bushu, had granted Fr. Jingwa a sabbatical year, the Priest remained the principal signatory of all the accounts. 

The Catholic Bishop further says he found it hard to understand how Fr. Jingwa, who had also been issued with a letter of indefinite stay in the USA, continued to manage CUIB virtually for an unknown period of time.

CUIB was being run as a private estate, Bishop Bibi says.

“I received no accounts from CUIB as compared to other Diocesan institutions that rendered monthly accounts as the case should be,” Bishop Bibi recalls, and adds that in the process of changing the institution’s main signatory, CFA Franc 50,000,000 (US$82,300) was transferred from the CUIB account to a private one. 

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He bemoans the fact that to date, “no one has accounted for the whereabouts of these funds” and adds that such lack of accountability constitutes “both a matter of civil and ecclesiastical offense.” 

In his statement shared with ACI Africa, Bishop Bibi says when he replaced the administrators of CUIB and changed the principal signatory of the institution’s accounts to his name, the defunct Board of Trustees sued him alongside the banks where the accounts were held. 

Prior to the court summon, the Cameroonian Bishop says, he was issued with an ex-parte order that kept his decisions on hold and blocked all the relevant bank accounts.

In the period that the bank accounts were frozen, the Bishop of Buea says employees at CUIB, CUIB Elementary Entrepreneurial English Primary and Nursery School, and CUIB Entrepreneurial High School, were not receiving their remunerations.  

“I decided to call for a working meeting at the Bishop's house with all the workers of these three institutions. During this meeting the workers provided their account details, to which their salaries were credited,” he says, adding that six workers who failed to attend the meeting and resume their duties were paid. 


Bishop Bibi continues, “The said six workers later took the matter to the Labor office with the false or misguided claim that they were wrongfully terminated. The matter could not be resolved amicably at the Labor office and was taken to court.”

He further says that he has invited the workers to his residence to dialogue and seek a way forward “but they have refused to honor my invitation twice and prefer we settle the matter in the labor office.” 

“It is still my prayer that we come to a peaceful resolution in justice, whether in court or outside of court,” Bishop Bibi says in his statement shared with ACI Africa March 13. 

The Bishop says he had an issue with the contracts of Fidei Donum Priests sent from the Diocese and other Clerics working at CUIB.

“Another disturbing issue I noticed when I came to Buea as Apostolic Administrator was the fact that Priests of the Diocese of Buea had to be loaned from the Diocese in order to work in CUIB; and contracts had to be established between these Priests, CUIB, and the Diocese of Buea,” he says.

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The fact that the members of the Clergy who left the Diocese as Fidei Donum Priests to the Diocese of Charlotte, NC, USA, went on behalf of CUIB and not the Cameroonian Diocese “was an awkward arrangement.”

“As such, whatever they were to do out of the country was meant to promote the interest of the university and not the Diocese of Buea,” he says referencing the Fidei Donum Priests, and adds, “CUIB was being run like another Diocese within the Diocese of Buea. That was an awkward arrangement.”

Making reference to Canon 271, Bishop Bibi says, “Only Dioceses are capable of assigning clerics as Fidei Donum ministers to other Dioceses”

Amid all the challenges, Bishop Bibi says, “I had asked Fr. Jingwa to come back home after his almost two years sabbatical to sort out the irregularities of CUIB, and up till now he has refused to come back.”

In his statement that highlights various challenges since he was appointed Apostolic Administrator in December 2019, Bishop Bibi urges parents, guardians, and well-wishers to join him and the CUIB faculty “so that together we may accomplish the immense task God has entrusted to us: the education and formation of our children.” 

“We trust that God will always guide and protect his own, despite all the tribulations we might go through,” the 50-year-old Catholic Bishop says.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.