Subversion of Due Process: The Presidency and “Epervier”

The news of recent has been the condemnation of Yves Michel Fotso to life imprisonment for alleged embezzlement of public funds. The news was being distilled to us at the same time that newspapers like “Mutations” (No. 4132 of April 25, 2016) were questioning why barons of the regime like Paul Atanga Nji, Jean Tabi Manga, Max Ayina Ohandja, Roger Moise Eyene Nlom, Marc Samatana and many others, whom reports of “commissions of enquiry” have since presented as suspects to face trial for embezzlement of public funds, have never been charged with embezzlement.

Further, a group called “REA-Mouvement Réaliste” said to be composed of grassroots militants of the CPDM (Génération Libre No. 221 of April 27, 2016), in a 10-year analysis of “Epervier” launched in Y2006, has concluded that the whole process seems to have been improvised because it was launched without adequate preparation and a clear intention to really fight against corruption.

The group named G11 that seems to have suffered the most from the operation has since had presumed members publishing books from their prison abodes. The books have been unanimous in claiming that “Epervier” is a politico-judicial exercise to eliminate the perceived political rivals of the man of November 6, 1982.

Many have criticized them for writing about the woes of Cameroon only when there was a divorce between them and the regime. To such criticism one can say that there is always a time and a reason for writing – to praise, admonish, propose, or some other – all of which are valid. In the end, we can only read the mind of characters like the taciturn and introverted man of November 6, through windows opened by those who worked closely with him – like Marafa, Olanguena, Edzoa, Mebara, and others – who write for any reason at all.

Invariably, “rebels” always assume the posture of attack to alter psychological situation of their adversaries to force them to lose their sense of security. The windows they have opened by doing this seem to be comforting the suspicion that indeed, “Epervier” is a political gimmick, and what is euphemistically called “Tcs” – or the Scc if you like –  seems to be a kangaroo court to put icing on the cake of “Epervier. Those who use the tired argument of sour grapes as an excuse to avoid reading the books of the “rebel” writers as attentively as they deserve, miss facing the challenge of the comprehension that each of the books represents.

It is obviously interesting that when “Epervier” came to being, article 66 of the constitution of 1996 meant to protect public funds and resources from embezzlers was a dead letter, and is still a dead letter today! “Epervier” was launched when all press condemnations of the corruption of regime barons were met with calls for evidence – “où sont les preuves?”

It was therefore interesting to read a report titled: “Presidency rubbishes supreme state audit report implicating CAMTEL GM” (Guardian Post No. 0907, 13/04/16). The report says that allegations of misappropriation, mismanagement and outright embezzlement of  the general manager covering the period 2010-2015, and the recommendation of special proceedings against him by the Special criminal court (SCC) were “rubbished” by the presidency because: CAMTEL is not yet using OHADA rules and cannot be judged by those standard; that much work of restructuring was carried out before the GM’s tenure; and that CONSUPE was rather hard when it reviewed the human, material and health resources management – consequently there was a bias in the way the review was done by CONSUPE!

These are most obviously supposed to be judicial decisions, not decisions of “the presidency”! The decisions leave the perception that they are for entirely partisan, if not personal reasons, and call into question the institutions on which “Epervier” depends.The man of November 6 wants to keep power by all means, so the presidency is seen as a partisan structure, and should not have the final say on issues of corruption.

The “rubbishing” of the report by “the presidency” is wrong for several reasons. First, one would think that the government of Cameroon has what the government of West Cameroon had – "General Orders" and "Financial Instructions"- that guide governance activities and the work of commissions of enquiry. 

Second, in Africa, – especially in Cameroon – all power is secured and preserved through opacities and duplicities; indeed, power or the seeking of power is always the cause of corruption. Political power always trumps and stifles justice, development and even commonsense.

Third, the courts have a technical way of playing idea-games with concepts related to questions of fact and questions of law, to reach the verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty”. In the process, some people are declared “guilty,” even though they did nothing; and others “not guilty” even though they committed the act! Each case depends on the ability to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”  It is wrong for the presidency to allow the courts to do this for some people, while protecting other people from facing the challenge.

Fourth, corruption always starts with the subversion of due process allegedly for the greater good. It is this power to “rubbish” reports of duly constituted commissions or to “doctor” them, that CPDM militants in prison are describing as politico-judicial manipulations. It is this exercise of power at the presidency that feeds the suspicion that the fight against corruption is a fight for the preservation of power. Subverting due process is tantamount to subverting the authority of the judiciary.

It is the people – all the people – that prosecute all successful fights against corruption. In this, the executive arm of government should be the facilitator, not a constitutive power. The executive should see to it that the fight is well prosecuted, not prosecute it itself!

The fight against corruption as presently prosecuted by the presidency leaves the impression that it is more concerned with “prevention” rather than “cure”. The evidence gathered during the last 10 years of “Epervier” permits a serious government to pursue curative measures, rather than “rubbish” findings in their pretentious effort to “cure” corruption.

 

Tazoacha Asonganyi

Yaounde.

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