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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora