Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cameroon: Verdict Slated For June 7, 2013 on Olanguena Case

Yaounde -Urbain Olanguena Awono's fate in the embezzlement case pitting him against the State of Cameroon against the former Minister of Public Health will soon be known. The last but one session of the trial took place at the Special Criminal Court in Yaounde on Friday, May 24, 2013.

Olanguena Awono is accused of embezzling FCFA 222 million and attempting to embezzle FCFA 60 million sometime between 2002 and 2006. The sum was meant for various programmes sponsored by the World Bank, the Global Fund and the State of Cameroon to combat AIDS and Malaria. Friday's court session focused on submissions by defence lawyers to prove the innocence of the accused.

On the aspect of subventions given to NGOs and associations for the production flyers which served as communication material for the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria, Barrister Joseph Nyaabia said the prosecution and the State of Cameroon have not been able to prove that public contracts were awarded illegally. He argued that the accusation is confused between the issuing of public contracts and the transfer of funds. He explained to the court that a subvention is assistance by the government to associations.
 "How then can we give sums of money to associations through contracts?" he asked. "It is not possible," he added. He said the accusation is not confused but is rather of bad faith. He further explained that subventions given to NGOs and associations respected the terms made by international donors who put in place local fund agents to supervise the activities, in all transparency.

On the aspect of the contract with the Cameroon's Social Marketing Association (ACMS), another defence lawyer, Barrister Marcel Mong, said it was not a public contract and so the prosecution could not talk about violations of the rules of public contract. Because the accords signed by the minister either with the NGOs and associations for the production of flyers or with the ACMS for the promotion of condoms were accords that were signed based on the principle of contractualisation which was already retained in the partnership agreement signed between the Ministry of Public Health and the NGOS and associations.

Concerning the transfer of subventions, Barrister Marcel Mong said that the prosecution wanted to misinform the court or put the court into error. He explained that in Cameroon, there has never been a public contract of subventions. He argued that before Minister Olanguena, there were subventions given out to associations and after Olanguena, there are still subventions. "We are asking why in the case of Olanguena, they want to make us believe that by a signing a decision for the transfer of subventions, he has violated the rules of public contracts. We think that there is some envy or a marginalisation on the part of the accusation," he said.

Olanguena Awono in his declaration after the defence lawyers said the accusation against him by the prosecution was empty in four different ways and concluded that the prosecution rather missed his guilt-Cameroon Tribune

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