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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid