Cameroon’s former Minister of Defense, Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo’o has been sentenced to 30 years for embezzling public funds. His wife, Bernadette was sentenced to 10 years for complicity in embezzlement.
The guilty verdict was handed down by the Special Criminal Court in the wee hours of February 1st, after 15 hours of trial.
The former minister Mebe Ngo’o who was also one-time Director of the Civil Cabinet at the Presidency of the Republic, the Delegate General for National Security and Minister of Transport, was found guilty of embezzling more than CFA F 23 billion. His wife was jailed for complicity to embezzle CFA F 5 billion, and for embezzling CFA F 310 million.
The Court revealed that Mebe Ngo’o stole the money through a system of overbilling what it said were fictitious public contracts.
He was also found guilty of large-scale corruption, influence-peddling, and money laundering.
The Court also sentenced a senior officer (Lieutenant-Colonel Mboutou) and a former technical adviser to the Ministry of Defense (Maxime Mbangue), each to 25 years in prison, as well as Victor Menye, the former -deputy managing director of the SCB bank, to 9 years of detention.
The Mebe Ngo’o couple had already spent four years behind bars in what is usually called pre-trial detention.
Their lawyer, Pauline Noël Koe Amougou has already appealed the judgement which she categorizes as a gross miscarriage of justice.
“…it is about the instrumentalization of justice, unfortunately, which is current in our country, justice under orders, we are going to go to the Supreme Court, although we have no illusions, but we will go there anyway, to continue to decry the various violations of the rights of the defence as it has been since the start of this procedure.”
She condemned procedural delays and insisted that materially and legally, there has been no embezzlement, and that “the conviction is a political decision, a settlement of scores between “comrades of ‘yesterday “.
Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo’o himself claims his incarceration is a political witch-hunt, and that he is a victim of power struggles being played out in Yaoundé in the shadow of President Paul Biya.
The Fall from Grace
Mebe Ngo’o, 66 spent a couple of years -from 1991-97 as a senior divisional officer, before making the long jump to become Director of the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency on December 7, 1997, where he spent seven years.
He was then appointed Delegate-General for National Security, and subsequently as Minister of Defense.
When the rumour started circulating that Mr. Mebe Ngo’o was amassing lots of money with the intention of eventually toppling the president, (Mebe Ngo’o denies this) he was appointed Minister of Transport.
When he was finally kicked out of the government in 2018, his descent to hell began: reports of embezzlement surfaced, and in March, he was arrested and sent to the Kondengui maximum security Prison.
The 30-year jail term imposed on him potentially marks the end of a man who was at one time perceived to be aspiring to succeed Cameroon’s ailing nonagenarian President, Paul Biya.