Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cameroon:SW Chiefs Say they’ve not abandoned detained Chief Inoni

Plan to make statement after meeting with authorities 

Ex-Premier,Chief Ephraim Inoni
By Christopher Ambe
Wide-spread allegation  that chiefs of the Southwest Region have not shown real concern  ever since one of theirs, Ephraim Inoni , Chief of Bakingili  and former Prime Minister ,was arrested and detained in Kondengui ,one of Cameroon’s maximum security prisons, accused of  embezzling  public funds in what is  now known in Cameroon as the Albatross Saga ,has been described as unfounded.

The chiefs have, through their president, dismissed the talk, insisting they have not abandoned Chief Inoni, who is said to have been very supportive of the Southwest Chiefs Conference while serving as Prime minster and Assistant secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic.
The chiefs say they will react when the time comes.

Chief Inoni is one of several former ministers now in detention charged for attempted embezzlement / embezzlement of public funds.

Although some  critical observers  allege that the charges have been trumped up to target potential political threats to Biya and his cronies, the Presidency of the Republic has said  the charges are not politically motivated.

 His Royal Majesty, Fontem Njifua, Fon of Fontem who is the newly elected President of the Southwest Chiefs’ Conference (SWECC), on May 11, told The Recorder in an exclusive interview:
“It is true that Chief Inoni is one of the prominent chiefs in the Southwest region. It is also true that he is a popular state personality, because he has served this country as former Prime Minister and as former Assistant Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic. It is also true that he is a member of the Central Committee of the ruling party.

But “I think that it is still premature for the Southwest Chiefs Conference to issue a statement to that effect, because we have not yet met with him to know why he was picked-up; We have not yet met the Minister of Justice to tell us why our colleague was arrested, neither have we met the Prime Minister or the Secretary-General of the Central Committee”

But told by The RECORDER that many people are disappointed that the chiefs have not yet made their powerful voices heard on Chief Inoni’s detention, Fon Njifua, who is the Fon of Fontem, retorted:
“The chiefs have their programme.The public cannot think that, they would push the chiefs to act or prepare a programme for the traditional rulers. By the way, it is important for the public to know that matters concerning chiefs are not always discussed in public”.

Many Anglophones were taken aback by the arrest of Chief Inoni.  Many years ago he was in the forefront in the fight against corruption and is credited with an anti-corruption campaign styled Operation Antelope, which he launched that led to the identification of hundreds of ghost workers who were feeding fat on the public purse. Operation antelope enabled the sate to recover billions of FCFA.
Particularly angry with Chief Inoni’s arrest are Southwest elites. They showed this anger recently during a fund-raising in Kumba for the Reunification‘s 50th anniversary celebrations. 

At the ceremony, Professor Peter Agbor Tabi, Assistant Secretary-General at the Presidency proposed that a motion of support be addressed to President Biya for intensifying the fight against embezzlement of public funds, following   the most recent arrests which included that of Chief Inoni, but the assembly of elites erupted with shouts of disapproval; they reportedly booed and jeered Professor  Agbor Tabi for his suggestion.

The President of SWECC  spoke to The RECORDER   in Buea  at the Southwest Chiefs Secretariat, following  the  handing over ceremony  between the former SWECC executive body and the new one-led by Fon  Njifua of Fontem ,which  executive was elected last April 14 in  Menji-Lebialem.
After the formal handing over ceremony, the new SWECC Executive paid a courtesy call on the new Governor of the Region, Bernard Okalia Bilai.

Fon   Njifua said some of the immediate priorities of the new SWECC leadership include contributing to the successful organization of the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Cameroon‘s Reunification, billed for Buea this year and the construction of the SWECC Permanent Secretariat Near Muea,in Buea

First Published in The Recorder newspaper, Cameroon,of May 23,2012

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