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SCC issues arrest warrant for former minister Essimi Menye

The Special Criminal Court, SCC has issued a warrant of arrest for former minister Essimi Menye, accused of complicity in…

The Special Criminal Court, SCC has issued a warrant of arrest for former minister Essimi Menye, accused of complicity in the embezzlement of public funds.

The warrant issued by Blaise Wo’minko, examining judge of the court, says  the minister is on the run and if found, should be arrested and taken to the Yaounde Central Prison in Kondengui. The warrant says he is accused of ordering the fraudulent payment of circa 1.7billion francs into the account of Challenger Corporation, a consultancy firm run by a certain Francoise Tchakui.

The arrest warrant, a copy of which Journal du Cameroun stumbled upon, notes that the 66-year old former minister’s escape followed preliminary investigations opened against him.

It should be recalled that the Special Criminal Court had summoned the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Lazare Essimi Menye for grilling on Monday August 1, 2016. It was noted on the summons that a warrant of arrest shall be issued for him to be forcefully brought to face justice if he failed to show up- he failed. The summons was dated July 20, 2016.

Other allegations of embezzlement

Last summons issued in 2016, with arrest warning

It was not the first time the minister who is said to have been living in an apartment on Shiplett 6305 Boulevard, Burke in the Washington DC USA, ever since he left the Neuilly hospital in France where he had been evacuated for treatment, was being summoned to the court to answer charges of embezzlement.

He was first summoned to appear before the court on January 13, 2015 alongside others to account for his involvement in the embezzlement of state funds worth 9billion FCFA which got missing while he served as minister of finance.

He did not honour the summons at the time, apparently because he was serving the state in his capacity as minister. Like Special Duties Minister, Paul Atanga Nji and other suspected embezzlers serving as ministers, he instead went to the Ministry of Justice where he is said to have had an interrogation with a judge.

Questioned to answer why he did not appear before the court, the minister said he never received any invitation to appear before the court on the said date. Our efforts to get an interview with the minister at the time were thwarted at the minister’s cabinet by his collaborators. Even one of his collaborators who accepted to talk to us on basis of anonymity would not admit nor refute that the minister had been grilled.

But we had it on good authority that the minister appeared before a judge at the ministry of justice and pleaded that a questionnaire should be prepared to enable him answer questions with a cool head.

Gov’t facilitated his escape

The minister was also expected to answer questions relating to his reported ordering of a transfer of 9.025.000.000 FCFA from Amity Bank Cameroon to Atlantic bank when he was finance minister. A second embezzlement case is that of the minister’s alleged involvement in a 50 million FCFA scam in the defunct Cameroon Tobacco Corporation.

The cases however never came up since he was sacked from government on October 2, 2015.

He had fallen ill and collapsed at his home nine days after his sacking and was rushed to the National Social Insurance Fund (CNPS) Hospital in Yaoundé from where he was later flown to France for proper medical attention on the request of the Minister of Public Health.

It should be recalled that a local French language newspaper, L’Epervier was suspended last year by the National Communication Council, following a complaint filed by Minister Essimi in which he claimed, the newspaper wrongly accused him of embezzling state funds.

Observers are criticising government of not only letting the minister escape, but also for allegedly spending tax payers money on his flight to France and his hospital bills.

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