News / Africa

Cameroon's Anti-Corruption Jailings Questioned

Rwanda President Paul Kagame, right, greets Cameroon President Paul Biya as he arrives for a meeting on Central African Republic, Brussels, April 2, 2014.
Rwanda President Paul Kagame, right, greets Cameroon President Paul Biya as he arrives for a meeting on Central African Republic, Brussels, April 2, 2014.
Cameroon is divided over the fate of some of President Paul Biya's closest former aides who have been arrested and detained on charges of corruption, attempted corruption and embezzlement.

The nearly two dozen former ministers and heads of state corporations, including Ephraim Inoni, the central African nation's last prime minister, are said by some to be political victims of Biya's three-decade rule.

For secondary schoolteacher Njika Alain, the arrests may have been motivated by Biya's desire to eliminate possible political opponents.

"It looks like a [doing away] of those who are opposed to the actual regime," Alain said. "It is a political fight instead of the fight against corruption or embezzlement."

Journalist George Alain Boyomo says the arrests began some 20 years ago when President Biya had already been in power for a decade.

"At the beginning, the fight against corruption in Cameroon had good intentions, but today people have come to understand that the campaign is to eliminate opponents of the president of the Republic," he said, adding that recent arrests have significant political implications.

Among the dozens in jail are Marafa Hamidou Yaya, President Biya's former secretary general and senior minister for territorial administrations; Abah Abah Polycarp, ex-minister of finance; Jean Mariie Atangana Mebara, a former minister of higher education; and Sieyam Siwe, former minister of mines. Some have been jailed for more than a decade, and it is not clear how many of the prisoners have faced trial.

According to human rights campaigner Dr. Richard Tantoh, the incarcerations do not align with standard judicial procedures involving charges of corruption and embezzlement.

"The treatment that is given to those who are caught does not give us an impression that the objective is to recover what has been stolen," he said, explaining that corruption or embezzlement indictments typically involve the creation of, for example, a special fund to ensure recovered finances are dedicated to public service or development projects.

"That is not happening," he said. "[These] people are locked up, some for 15 years, and they are released without us knowing exactly if money has been recovered or not."

But Laurent Esso, Cameroon's justice minister, says some money has been recovered.

"Today the public treasury has recovered more than $4 million," he said, adding that the money was obtained from suspects who opted to stop the judicial process via financial settlement.

Elvis Ngole-Ngole, minister of forestry and wildlife and one of Biya's close collaborators in the ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement, denies that charges are fabricated.

"There is nothing to tell me that it is politically motivated and I think that the initiative is a deliberate public policy which is intended to make Cameroon a better country," he said. "If there are manipulators, we will know how to take care of those manipulators. A good policy such as the fight against corruption should not be manipulated upon or should not be distorted or should not be rendered a mockery by those who do not understand the moral foundations, the legal foundations, the legitimacy of that policy."

Four of the suspects, including Catherine Abena, former secretary of state for education, and Henry Engoulou, former minister delegate of finance, have died in detention. Their deaths have fueled rumors that suspects are not being given medical attention. Government spokesperson Issa Tchiroma denied the claims and said the case of Engoulou, who died 2 weeks ago, disproves the critics.

"During his detention, Mr. Engoulou benefited regular medical care at the Yaounde Central Hospital," he said. "As his health condition was growing worse, he was transferred to the intensive care unit where he later passed away."

None of the incarcerated suspects ever publicly declared their intentions to run for president. While Biya recently granted presidential clemency to some of the corruption suspects, only the minister of justice can determine who will be eligible for clemency and when.

In almost all of his public messages, Biya vows to intensify the fight against corruption, indicating that all those who have stolen will be punished without exception.

You May Like

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid