The Special Criminal Court in Cameroon is a special tribunal created in 2012 to investigate corruption related crimes. Information gotten from case files from this special court has left the population of Cameroon indifferent over the mandate and effectiveness of this court. Is the court an extension of the powerful executive or is a weak extension of the judiciary created to settle political scores?
According to Cameroon Tribune of the 22 of January 2012, in just two months of operation, the court has recovered about 2 billion francs CFA. It is disturbing to know that money projected for development projects is siphoned by individuals while the people of Cameroon continue to languish in poverty. The mandate of this court is to ensure that stolen money is recovered from such corrupt individuals, as corroborated the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso, during the inaugural ceremony of the court on 15 October 2012.
Recently the court sentenced an artisanal pot producer caught stealing telecommunication cables of a state owned corporation. According to Cameroon Tribune, this is a sign that the court was not only created to target political criminals and high ranking officials involved in gross financial malpractices.
The court also recently decided to drop charges against the former Director General of the defunct Cameroon Airlines, Yves Michael Fotso, after he agreed to pay back stolen funds. This individual was accused of having swindled state funds and also for having crippled the defunct Cameroon Airlines.
The court is also handling the file of the former Prime Minister of Cameroon, Ephraim Inoni, who was also accused and imprisoned in the national state prison, Kondegui for having embezzled funds meant for development.
There is still a major worry on why colossal amounts of money are left in the hands on individuals without any stringent control. It is no secret that the central government created the problem in the first place by allowing such amount of money to be badly managed by dubious individuals.
Now that the Special Criminal Court has announced that it has and is recovering money from corrupt officials, what happens to the recovered money? Is there a special account where this money will be put to be utilised for specific projects or defunct projects? Has the special court or the central government put measures in place to ensure that this money is redirected to services that were deprived of these funds? What steps are being taken by the state to ensure that such amount of money is not siphoned by corrupt officials again? These are the questions that continue to plague the minds of Cameroonians who remain pessimistic about the mandate of the Special Criminal Court.
It is a laudable idea that such a court was created, but the purpose of such a move by the central government will definitely be defeated if the money is not pumped back into the economy. Cameroonians wish that the money recovered should be utilised for what it was meant for, or be judiciously utilised for defunct projects.
Having a special court is not enough. There is need for Cameroonians to be given a chance to engage in other lucrative sectors like agriculture and small and medium size enterprises. The agricultural sector in Cameroon is still to be mechanised and exploited. The state needs to reduce the current big government sector and increase the private sector. Such measures will definitely reduce the wanton corruption which still persists in the country despite the existence of institutions like the special Criminal Court and other anti-corruption agencies.