Lawyer Rubbishes Presidential Clemency

The President of the Fako Lawyers’ Association, FAKLA, Barrister Stanislaus Ajong has criticised President Biya for what he termed undermining the provision of the Constitution before taking the decision to absolve certain persons of their crimes against the state.

Barrister Ajong said that the Constitution in its Section 8 (7) states that the Head of State must consult the Higher Judicial Council before taking the decision as to who should be pardoned.
“I have been around all this while and I am not aware that the Higher Judicial Council did sit before the 18 of February when the Head of State signed this decree,” Barrister Ajong said, “so as an expert in law, I want to think that there is something that is not very clear here and needs further explanation.”

The said decree did not mention or did it allude to any such meeting by the Head of State and the Higher Judicial Council before the decision of February 18 was signed. Barrister Ajong went on to state that the ease with which Biya toys with the Constitution is unacceptable. He cited the case in 1984 when Biya, single-handedly, decided to alter the name of Cameroon from United Republic of Cameroon to Republic of Cameroon.

The Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals is yet to determine those who will benefit from the Presidential grace but prominent among those likely to profit are Prof. Titus Edzoa, Thierry Atangana, Emmanuel Gerard Ondo Ndong, Pierre Desire Engo, Mounchipou Saidou and many other affiliates of theirs in crime. Ajong added that saying anything now as to who benefits would be mere speculation because as per article 1 of the decree, one must qualify before he or she can become one of those to walk free.

He said that in applying the decree, the Minister would have to make a comparative analysis of the contents of the court’s judgments viz-a-viz the provisions of the decree. Other persons too, have been worried and question what happens to the billions that these to-be-freed prisoners reportedly deprived Cameroonians of. Barrister Ajong stated that they, as Fako lawyers, were also concerned about the whereabouts of the money.

“Their release gives the impression that the prisoner is more important than the loot that they are alleged to have made away with,” Ajong said. “And one might be tempted to think, at some point, that the prosecutors who prosecuted these persons did not have the interest of recovering the money for the state other than sending these people to jail.” He further said that the drive to fight corruption and embezzlement of state funds seems to be more political and aimed at punishing the individual culprits than being an action aimed at benefiting the state.

Meantime, many observers have expressed worry as to if the likes of Chief Ephraim Inoni and erstwhile General Manager of the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering Company Ltd, Zaccheus Forjindam, will, in anyway, benefit from this decree. One of Forjindam’s Counsel, Barrister Bonu Innocent, told The Post by phone that his client, as per the decree, cannot benefit.

“No, Forjindam cannot benefit because his case is still at the level of the Supreme Court,” Barrister Bonu stated. Former General Manager of CRTV, Prof. Gervais Mendo Ze, is, supposedly the only one who was found to have mismanaged the sum of FCFA 2.4 billion while he ran CRTV and was asked to pay back by installments. But till date, no one knows if, at all, this amount was ever paid back.

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