The anti-embezzlement sledge hammer again fell last week on two former
members of government, Catherine Abena, former Secretary of State for
Secondary Education and Henri Engoulou, ex-Minister Delegate in Charge
of the Budget. The two were picked up for questioning at the Judicial
Police on alleged embezzlement count.
The dust raised by the whisking away of two other former
government top officials, Ex-Minister of Basic Education, Haman Adama
and former General Manager of the Cameroon Airports Authority, Roger
Ntongo Onguene, on the same count had not completely settled when it
happened. So far, media sources are counting over 30 suspects already
in the judicial dragnet, about 20 of which are already gnashing their
teeth on detention at the Yaounde Nkondengui Central Prison.
Ignited sometime in 2006 by the Head of State in a bid to
bring sanity into the public sector, the anti-corruption drive,
otherwise known as “Operation Sparrow hawk”, has enabled the arrest and
judgement of some of the topmost government officials including the
President’s closest collaborators. Two former Secretary Generals at the
Presidency of the Republic have fallen prey to the operation. In the
same vein, two finance ministers, one of them, minister delegate and
several General Mangers of State Corporations are equally occupying
apartments in Nkondengui, some pending judgement and others in full
prison term service.
The long silence of almost one year following the arrest of
Jean-Marie Atangana Mebara, former Minister of State, Secretary General
at the Presidency of the Republic and former Ministers of the Economy
and Finance, and Public Health, Polycarpe Abah Abah and Urbaine
Olanguena Awono, respectively almost created an impression of a lost
That was simply an impression. The new wave of arrests coming after the
Head of State’s end-of-year address to the nation, in which he
reiterated his total commitment to fight the cankerworm to the end, is
considered as hope rekindling. This set of arrests carries with it a
lot of symbolism. First, it tells of an operation that spares no one.
Second, it brings the first set of female government officials,
dismissing all prejudices that may have surrounded the whole exercise.
The panic the operation has driven across the nation,
especially among families of those who hold, or have held positions, do
not seem to bother the author. From every indication, the determination
to send the broom to all corners of the house keeps rising. That
notwithstanding, many continue to wonder why such measures have so far
failed to completely discourage some vote holders from getting into the
trap. In the same light, many continue to ask of how the wealth
swindled by those found guilty will get back to the State coffers. Only
the law courts are well qualified to provide answers to these
questions. Meantime, the determination to descend the sledgehammer on
many more suspects remains very much in the air.