Many have remained skeptical following the release of Former minister Basile Atangana Kouna from Kondengui prison in Yaounde yesterday, July 29, 2022.
The former Minister of Water and Energy, Atangana Kouna was picked up and deported from Nigeria after fleeing in March 2018 shortly after President Biya kicked him out of government.
He was later charged with embezzlement of over 1 billion FCFA and like many other ex government members, thrown in the dreaded Kondengui Maximum security prison.
Four years later, he is a free man, released at the behest of the presidency. While some social media users think the move is one to encourage others to repay stolen funds, some think it simply denigrates the country’s justice system.
One Facebook user questioned the destination of the reimbursed money. “Where is the money?” he asked, “How will this money be used to benefit this country’s citizens? Or he merely transferred the money into other private pockets as usual.”
Another user indicated that “normally, we should have a report from the government on how much he embezzled, how much he returned, what is left, and what next actions or terms define his release.”
Meanwhile, others hold the view that the release of the former Minister was to an extent nothing but normal.
It is the case with this user who indicated, “His stay in prison does not help any Cameroonian. Reimbursing the money is good. I wish other Kondengui colleagues can do the same.”
Linking the release to the ongoing Anglophone crisis, a user said: “A man who stole taxpayers’ money is released from prison and people who asked for a change because the country is not going well are kept in prison.”
It should be recalled that several anglophones who were detained at the beginning of the Anglophone crisis are still in detention. While some have given up ghost while in detention.
Meanwhile many fear the high possibility of another appointment of Atangana Kouna as Minister in Cameroon.
When some prisoners are more important than others
To many civil society activists, the ex Minister’s release from jail is a two edged action. Appreciating the reimbursement, they believe he should have remained behind bars, like many others.
In April 2018, a month after his arrest, Basile Atangana Kouna was said to have reimbursed One billion, Seven hundred and thirty-six million, Four hundred and one thousand, eight hundred and seven francs cfa (1,736,401,870).
His lawyer cited article 3 of the decree the Presidential Decree Outlining Conditions for Reimbursing Embezzled Funds, pleading for his release.
Happening four years later, it is a triumph for Kouna and his family but definitely not for civil society.
“What are they saying about Wazizi? What are they saying about Vamoulké? What are they saying about Mancho Bibixy? What are they saying about Kongnso Antoinette?” quizzed activist, Remmi Tassing.
In the same light, the Cameroon People Party’s Kah Walla remarked that victims of the Anglophone crisis as well as other political prisoners are the wrong people to be in jail.
She further urged her followers to reignite their ‘Friday in Black’ campaign to decry injustices in Cameroon.
By Amina Hilda.
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