Inoni Faces Criminal Court On Wednesday


Former Prime Minister, Chief Ephraim Inoni, will begin answering charges of embezzlement of public funds at the Special Criminal Court on Wednesday, February 20. Inoni will be docked on a two-count charge that accuses him of allegedly embezzling FCFA 1.7 billion. The erstwhile Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic, Jean Atangana Mebara, is also involved in the case.

In one of the counts, the prosecution accuses both Chief Inoni and Atangana Mebara of embezzling FCFA 1.5 billion, which was the surplus in the payment by Government of aircraft lease dues that the defunct Cameroon airlines Company, CAMAIR, owed the aircraft leasing company, Ansett World Wide. Meanwhile, on Friday, February 22, the former Minister of Public Health, Urbain Olanguena Awono and some of his former collaborators will again appear before the Special Criminal Court.

When the accused persons were docked on February 5, a State Audit Inspector, Joseph Mpouli Mpouli, who appeared as a prosecution witness, said the Ministry of Public Health under Olanguena Awona, disbursed FCFA 260 million to one NGO, the Cameroon Association of Social Marketing, ACMS. He said the disbursement was the main substance of an agreement both parties signed on July 5, 2004. The money was intended to enable ACMS produce and distribute quality condoms to the population at cheaper prices.

To Mpouli Mpouli, such an agreement was just a racket by the former Minister and his collaborators to swindle public funds. In one of the charges, the former Minister is accused of pocketing FCFA 322 million between 2002 and 2006, which was part of money allocated to the fight against Malaria and HIV\AIDS. He is also accused of attempting to fraudulently grab FCFA 60 million of State funds.

During the court session, the state of Cameroon and the civil party, led by Barrister Kenfack, rejected the witnesses of the defence. They argued that the list of witnesses was only sent to court at the eve of the session against the law that provides that it should be tabled five days to the hearing day. It was at the request of the Defence lawyers that the panel of judges led by Justice Francis Moukouri adjourned the matter to February 8.

But on Friday February 8, the case that had already suffered five adjournments, took a new twist. This time around, another State Audit Inspector, unraveled another embezzlement scam in the case that was hinged on undue service allowances, unjustified fuel allowances and fake missions at the National AIDS Control Committee between 2005 and 2006.

The prosecution witness, Athanas Wafor Kaptue, put the blame for such a racket squarely on the shoulders of the then permanent secretary of the AIDS Committee, Dr Maurice Feuzeu. Dr Feuzeu, like Olanguena Awono and five others, is suffering pre-trial detention at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde following their arrest in 2008.

In one of the charges, the former Minister, Dr Feuzeu and five of their former collaborators are being accused of embezzling FCFA 287 million. It is reported that the money was allocated for the fight against Tuberculosis, HIV\AIDS and Malaria.

In his testimony, the prosecution witness Kaptue, said over FCFA 7million disappeared into the private pockets of some individuals in the Ministry of Public Health, the AIDS Control Committee and the Ministry of Finance. He said the people claimed to have supervised the AIDS awareness campaign in some localities of the Centre Region. Yet, there was no proof, the witness continued, that the FCFA 7 million was used for the purpose for which it was disbursed.

The sate audit inspector said Dr Feuzeu unjustifiably received a monthly allowance of FCFA 400,000 that amounted to FCFA 3.2 million when he was Chief of section for Sectorial Response at the Central Technical Group for the AIDS Committee. The court later adjourned the matter to Friday, February 22.


By Yerima Kini Nsom


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