29, June 2016
Alfred Etom, is the Coordinator of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, a body operating within the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) In a recent conversation with Cameroon Tribune, he speaks of the National Anti-Corruption Commission 2014 report! He says over 20 billion FCFA has been recovered.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission’s 2014 Anti-Corruption Status Report unveils fabulous sums of State funds embezzled. How much of these embezzled funds have been recovered?
Alfred Etom: Let me first recall that this report does not only contain activities carried out by the NACC, but also by other ministries and institutions with the aim of fighting corruption. In 2014, the Special Criminal Court recovered more than FCFA 7 billion. More than FCFA 3 billion was recovered by the Supreme Court. The Council for Financial and Budgetary Discipline also recovered more than FCFA 3 billion.
Vote holders were fined to the tune of FCFA 70 million, while NACC recovered FCFA 6 billion this year. So, nearly FCFA 20 billion of ill-gotten funds have been recovered since 2014. Specifically, the funds were recovered on the national territory. Although the process of recovering ill-gotten wealth hidden abroad is complex, it is ongoing.
Does this indicate an evolution in the recovery of embezzled State’s assets?
Alfred Etom: Yes, because Cameroonians are more and more cooperative. At the beginning, it was not easy, but they have noticed that we are committed. Once NACC is after you, we do not give up until we have the expected results. Now that we have developed our visibility, Cameroonians have a greater tendency to trust us. And this trust is motivation for us to keep working. This also accounts for the results achieved so far.
What are some of the challenges in this task?
Alfred Etom: One of the challenges we have to overcome is that we do not have regional branches. For us to carry out an effective fight to downscale corruption, we have to be close to the population. When people send us their tip-offs, it takes time for NACC to react just because we are far from them. It slows down the process and frustrates those who report corruption cases.
The report also talks of only 27 per cent rate of implementation of Regional Anti-Corruption Action Plans. What is your take on this?
Alfred Etom: The 27.3 per cent was in 2014. Then, we thought there was no real will to tackle the issue of corruption in the regions for many reasons. One of the reasons is that Regional Inspectorates of Service were not well-equipped to carry out anti-corruption actions, initiatives and investigations. Secondly, there was also lack of will to combat corruption because they thought that NACC only fought against big corruption, which is wrong. The third reason is that they themselves fed on corruption. It is difficult for somebody who feeds on corruption to fight corruption. Ever since, the situation has improved to about 30 per cent today. Things have improved.
Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai with files from Cameroon Tribune