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Arrests in Cameroon for Corruption, or Challenges to Biya?

VOA | YAOUNDE, CAMEROON — The recent arrest of a former official in Cameroon for alleged corruption has sparked a debate over whether the government is actually trying to stamp out corruption, or is cracking down on anyone it sees as a challenger to longtime President Paul Biya.

Former defense minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o was arrested along with his wife and three of his close collaborators.

Political analyst Eugene Mbida says Mebe Ngo’o had occupied several strategic positions, including the director of Biya’s cabinet, police chief, minister of transport and defense minister — who was instrumental in arresting people considered as opponents of Biya. Mebe Ngo’o was widely viewed by Cameroonians as the emblematic future president, according to Mbida.

At least two dozen former government officials have been arrested and imprisoned in Cameroon over the past 10 years, including a former prime minister, several ex-ministers, and heads of state-owned corporations.

The charges against Mebe Ngo’o have not been made public, though corruption is said to be the cause of his arrest. The other officials were arrested on embezzlement charges, but they say they are political prisoners who are suffering for raising their voices against Biya’s 37-year stay in power.

‘Prisoners of conscience’

Former Health Minister Urbain Olanguena Awono, in his book titled Mensonges d’Etat (Lies of the State), says he and other detainees are “prisoners of conscience.”

Jacques Mfeugue of the Yaounde-based Center for the Promotion of Good Governance says the only way for citizens to know if officials are stealing from the public purse is if officials are forced to declare their assets before taking office.

In addition, he says, Cameroon should upgrade the audit bench of the Supreme Court to an autonomous court that investigates financial crimes.

The government denies that Biya persecutes those who oppose him and insists that it fights only corruption. It says the country has lost about $1.5 billion in stolen funds over the past decade, and that the anti-corruption body recovered about $260 million last year.

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  1. The names Jacques Mfeugue and Eugene Mbida tells so much of their integrity and objectivity. There are many political prisoners (kamto, ndoki, etc) incarcerated, but mebe ngo’o is no political prisoner.

    In fact, this guy is amongst the most notorious embezzlers lrc has ever known. As minister of transport, he handled the purchase of 3 MA-60 aircraft from China at approx. 75B fcfa/aircraft. Meanwhile, neighbouring and all other African countries bought theirs at 18B and lesser. As mindef, he masterminded several fraudulent deals and embezzlement schemes.

    He even had personal ATMs from various banks installed at his residence to save him the stress of going to the banks. This guy had money such that banks went to him and not vice versa.

  2. “There is no honor among thieves.”


    2. Cameroonians have the licence to embezzle public funds. However, if anyone is unlucky to be caught, he/she simply reimburses the principal.
    3. The person, who pays back the stolen money would be set free without any further legal, political or administrative sanctions.
    4. The law is too politicised. The meddling of the executive arm of the state further weakens the law. The executive arm of government is too closely involved in making decisions in matters involving embezzlement best left for the judiciary.
    5. The law is sometimes misused by the executive branch to witch hunt political rivals.
    The law is applied selectively because of the interference of the executive.
    7. Article 66 of the constitution(DECLARATION OF ASSETS) is absent

  4. Who is arresting who now?

  5. Those arrested from the President ‘s tribe for embezzlement are there because they actually stole the money.And if the president was an honest man he is supposed to arrest many more of his tribesmen because they are the real thieves of Cameroun.Political prisoners in Cameroon are Anglophones from North West and South West Regions and some Bamileke people.President Biya’s government is the most corrupt ,tribalistic and evil government on planet earth.

  6. Mr Edgar Mebe Ngo’o may have embezzled billions of state funds as defence minister , how ever his arrest by the monster Biya has nothing to do with that, but a long suspicion by Biya of planning a coup d’etat with the American, time he serve as defense Secretary, the intelligence services has been very suspicious of him, reasons he was fired and transfer as minister of transport which was itself a demotion by the despotic Regime, I thought he should have vanished into exile since the monster perceived him as a threat , why now he get arrested because the Americans under Secretary of Africa affairs has been sending strong message to the despotic regime brutality / killing of amb,thus paranoid wicked Biya come after him thinking is the America go to man to come after the monster Biya regime

  7. If Biya can turn himself in, then I ll know he is fighting corruption but until then, there is God oh!

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