Special Criminal Court: 3 facing trial on corruption charges 0

Three civil servants in the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reform (MINFOPRA) will stand trial on June the 1st 2017 at the Special Criminal Court in Yaoundé. The Court recently revealed that it now has evidence of corruption and embezzlement of public funds against the trio.

Elisabeth Abogda, deputy director of the budget, as well as her two collaborators, Serge Mbang Zogo and Mvogo Mvogo have been sued before the Special Criminal Court for an alleged misappropriation of 100 million CFA francs relating to an operation launched in 2011 for the recruitment of 25,000 contractors in the civil service.

Prosecutors at the court hinted that the amount indicated represents the damage suffered by the State of Cameroon following the mysterious disappearance of 1213 cash vouchers during the operation of recruitment. The said vouchers were kept inside Room 607 of MINFOPRA where the three officials involved were working during that period.

To substantiate the accusation, the Ministry has reportedly produced 26 exhibits that were admitted into the procedural file and the testimony of the witnesses of the accusation received in court during the proceedings. Cameroon Concord News understands the exhibits include inter alia, the various notes appointing the members of the various teams responsible for the distribution of cash certificates, the coordinator, the persons in charge of distribution, requests for explanations addressed to certain agents.

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.  We 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 countries 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 years of corrupt governance and the rape of the economy.

By Rita Akana and Soter Agbaw-Ebai

Cameroon Concord News Group