Inoni Charged With Embezzling FCFA 1.7 Billion


Former Prime Minister, Chief Ephraim Inoni, has been charged with embezzling FCFA 1.7 billion of public funds.

 The Examining Magistrate at the Special Criminal Court, Justice Jerome Kouabou, briefed the erstwhile State official at the court in Yaounde on Thursday, January 17.

 Chief Inoni, who has been languishing in pre-trial detention at the Kondengui Central prison in Yaounde, since April 16, 2012, was accompanied to court by one of his lawyers, Barrister Mandeng.

 The charge sheet against Inoni, who is the traditional ruler of Bakingili in Fako Division of the Southwest Region, holds that he embezzled the money when he was Board Chair of Assets Portfolio Management, APM, one of the companies said to have been involved in shady deals that shrouded the renting of planes for CAMAIR in 2003.

 The FCFA 1.7 billion the erstwhile Prime Minister is accused to have lined his pockets with, is the nitty-gritty of the two main charges that the special Criminal Court maintained against him. Initially, when he was arrested, five heavy charges were slammed against him by the Mfoundi High Court before the Special Criminal Court took over the matter.

 In one of the charges, the Examining Magistrate accused Inoni of having embezzled FCFA 287 million in a racket that APM had with the Ministry of Transport. The deal was a contract in which APM shouldered the responsibility to ensure the renting of aircrafts for the defunct Cameroon Airlines, CAMAIR.

 According to the Examining Magistrate, the contract was not in order with the conventional procedural norms because Inoni, who was APM Board Chair, used his position as the Deputy Secretary General at the Presidency at the time.

 To him, the award of the contract was not scrutinised by the tenders’ board. What is more intriguing, according to the accusation of the Examining Magistrate ,is that the name of Chief Inoni’s younger brother, Johnson Elongue Lifangue features prominently in the list of APM’s shareholders. He is said to have been holding 10 percent shares in the company.

 To the Magistrate, such a situation is pointer to the fact that Inoni used shady deals to line his private pockets with State funds.

 Moreover, the Examining Magistrate is equally charging Inoni with the swindling of FCFA 1.4 billion. The money is said to have been the surplus of a huge amount that the National Hydro Carbons Corporation, SNH, disbursed for the payment of arrears relating to the renting of planes for CAMAIR. Inoni is accused of grabbing the surplus when the money was paid through the Standard Chartered Bank which the former Prime Minister served at the time as its Board Chair.

 He said it was unfortunate that Inoni and other accused persons decided to cheat the State of the surplus. The court established that Inoni was not implicated in the embezzlement of the FCFA 24 billion that was disbursed for the purchase of the presidential plane. “There is no element of proof implicating Inoni in the embezzlement of the funds “partly reads the charge sheet.

 After having been charged, Chief Inoni is expected to face trial in court soon. Arrested alongside the former Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, on April 16, 2012, a sober-looking Chief Inoni has already suffered nine months of pre-trial detention. Marafa has already been slammed a 25-year jail term, following a Marathon trial last year.

By Yerima Kini Nsom

Source: The Post Online