1, February 2021
President Biya has reportedly ordered the minister for justice to stop all legal proceedings against disgraced former minister Basile Atangana Kouna.
In a correspondence addressed to Minister Laurent Esso, Minister-Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh wrote “I have the honour to convey to you the high directives of the Head of State, prescribing the halt of proceedings against Basile Atangana Kouna, in the case in question, I would therefore be grateful if you would inform the President of the Special Criminal Court, the Public Prosecutor at the said court and the Minister of Finance, with a view to implementing the practical arrangements for the transfer to the public treasury of money in the bank accounts of the person concerned, at the amount determined by the examining magistrate and to report to me on your diligence.”
Dismissed from the cabinet on March 2, 2018, Basile Atangana Kouna former Minister of Water and Energy was arrested some few days later in Nigeria while trying to flee from the CPDM crime syndicate.
The former minister is being prosecuted for multiple offences ranging from corruption to embezzlement with the most popular being the Camwater scandal where it is alleged that the Beti Ewondo political elite embezzled FCFA 1.2 billion.
In October 2019, Basile Atangana’s shares at the Société Générale and BGFI, luxury vehicles and land titles were seized by the Special Criminal court. Cameroon Intelligence Report understands that the assets confiscated amounted to more than CFAF 825 million.
In September 2013, Haman Adama, former Minister of Basic Education was released after returning 212.5 million CFA francs.
However, it should be pointed out that dropping of charges after reimbursement is not always automatic deep within the French Cameroun CPDM criminal structure as several former senior officials continue to languish in prison despite the restitution of their stolen wealth.
Depicting the Special Criminal Court established to prosecute alleged corrupt government officials and the several Alibabas responsible for pilfering from the public treasury as the President’s court is no misnomer. Cameroon Concord News and Cameroon Intelligence Report call it the President’s court because it is one instrument of power through which the President is reining in on perceived opponents from within his CPDM power conduit.
An attribute of a genuine court is the fairness of the trial proceedings in cases which are brought before the court for trial. It is not the number of convictions entered against accused. A court is legitimate and recognized as such because of its exercise of judicial, executive, legislative and administrative independence. A court that is independent must be accessible to all citizens after all, is equality before the law, not a constitutionally protected value? The Special Criminal Court is lacking in these attributes of impartiality, judicial independence and accessibility. It is perceived more as the President’s Court than a Court of Justice.
Establishing this court was President Biya’s way of saving himself the embarrassment of being humiliated during his perennial trips abroad as the President of the most corrupt country in the world. This ranking of the country as the most corrupt or one of the most corrupt countries had a potential to hamper President Biya’s personal pecuniary interests far from the borders of Cameroon. There was therefore a personal interest need to establish the court. Another personal interest need was to avail himself of a legal tool under his direct control to consolidate absolute power, blackmail potential rebels and competitors within the system and to stifle any form of institutional opposition. He perceived the court as a tool with which to whitewash his more than thirty-eight years of corrupt governance and the rape of the economy.
The fight against corruption using the Special Criminal Court has afforded Paul Biya justification contest in the next institutionally flawed elections in order to eternalize power. True to the name the President’s Court, the President has exclusive preserve in referring cases to the Special Court and the power to terminate them. He decides who will be arrested, who will be investigated and who will serve time and who will not.
In one instance, he ordered a detained Minister Bapes Bapes released from remand custody at Kondengui when a warrant was issued for his arrest without the presidential fiat. Titus Edzoa a former Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic benefitted from a purported Presidential pardon whose primary purpose was the release of a French citizen Thiery Atangana from jail.
By Soter Agbaw-Ebai