- Drops him from CPDM senatorial list in the last minute
By Tamfu Harrison Bawe in Yaounde
The run-up to the April 14, 2013 senatorial elections in Cameroon has unveiled a new twist in the National Oil Refinery Corporation (SONARA) saga. Contrary to newspaper reports that the board chair of the state-owned corporation, John Ebong Ngole, had been cleared of all charges of complicity with the detained former general manager, Charles Metouck, he might still have some questions to answer as to whether he signed a note, authorizing Charles Metouck to sneak in to the SONARA office where it is alleged he destroyed some incriminating documents as well as signed some billion contracts and back-dated them.
The Guardian Post has been hinted that President Paul Biya who already had endorsed Ebong Ngole as the South West CPDM senatorial list leader immediately ordered that his name be dropped after he (Biya) was reminded that Ebong Ngole still has some questions to answer in the ongoing trial of the former SONARA general manager.
Ebong Ngole’s name, The Guardian Post gathered, was top of the said list. He was reported to have already been celebrating his victory in his Limbe residence, even before the election, given that there is no opposition in his constituency. Before the 12:00 midnight deadline on Friday, the list had even been forwarded to media houses like the Cameroon Radio Television Corporation (CRTV) and Equinoxe Television. Ebong Ngole’s name was even read on CRTV as the CPDM senatorial list leader for the South West.
A source at the Unity Palace quoted President Biya as telling the CPDM investiture committee members “Our intention is not to hide criminals in the senate.” He however clarified that President Biya by issuing that warning was not referring to Ebong Ngole but quickly added “There is a case awaiting Mr. Ngole in the Limbe court of first instance. If he proves himself innocent, he will be discharged and acquitted. At that time, he can start preparing for the next senatorial elections. But if he is found guilty, he will be punished accordingly.”
Meantime, news of the disqualification of the former minister of special duties at the presidency is said to have sent shockwaves running down his spine. A journalist who saw him on Friday, that is, the day of the disqualification, said he remained speechless even when one or two of his family relations were talking to him.
His speechlessness has been described as having resulted from some worrisome reflections over his possible imprisonment alongside Charles Metouck. It should be recalled that the latter, who was caught recently destroying and signing documents in his former office, three days after he was sacked as general manager of SONARA, told the Limbe court that he was authorized to enter the office by the board chair of the corporation.
Posing as a witness of the state in the case pitting it against Metouck, his predecessor, on March 1 2013, the new SONARA general manager, Ibrahim Talba Malla had to say whether he knew about the existence of the note which Metouck claims to be the authorization given him by Ebong Ngole to visit his former office after his dismissal. The president of the court, Theophilus Tassi, also asked Talba Malla if he knew whether the said note was signed by the board chair or not.
In response, the newly-appointed general manager of SONARA said the letter was effectively written and signed by Ebong Ngole who had actually talked to him about it. He however pointed out that the mention made of the authorization that it was done with his (Talba Malla’s) consent or approval is absolutely false.
Concerning the reasons for the issuance of the authorization to the former general manager, Talba Malla told the court that Ebong Ngole had made him understand that he wanted to permit Metouck to prepare files and documents for the technical handover ceremony. Thereafter, the original copy of the authorization was handed to the current general manager for him to see whether it was authentic. After a close examination of the document, the new general manager confirmed it was.
It is this charge that Ebong Ngole may be called upon later to answer, and which apparently prompted President Biya to disqualify him as a senatorial hopeful. A new twist in the SONARA saga indeed!