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Monday, March 18, 2019

'Jeune Afrique' reveals why Paul Biya finally released Mebe Ngo'o

This article, signed by Georges Dougueli in the Panafrican weekly Jeune Afrique, outlines the scandals that led to the convocation before the Special Criminal Court (TCS) of the former powerful minister, Mebe Ngo'o, until the warrant of committal at Kondengui Prison.

Read below the full article of Jeune Afrique


This time, he did not go home. On March 9th, the foolish hope that Edgar's Alain Mebe Ngo'o's family still clung to faded away as the shuttle transported him to Kondengui Prison. For several days, the former minister was in the sights of the investigators of Operation Sparrowhawk.Hearing at the Special Criminal Court (TCS), accused of misappropriation of public funds and corruption, he was eventually incarcerated. A predictable outcome for this soap opera made in Cameroon mixing family tragedy, financial thriller and networks françafricains. Until the end, Mebe Ngo'o, at 62, hoped that Paul Biya would whistle the end of his legal troubles.

The money is sometimes paid on the accounts of offshore companies. The lucrative case continues until 2014, when the French justice decapitated the network by searching the premises of the company located in Aubervilliers, north of Paris, and putting under examination for "bribery of foreign public officials" several of its leaders, including Robert Franchitti. For Mboutou, the troubles will come later. On April 6, 2016, while Mebe Ngo'o has already been transferred to Transport and he has himself converted into diplomacy, becoming a military attaché at the Cameroon Embassy in Rabat, he is arrested at the Hotel Majestic, in Paris, by OCRGDF police officers. It must be said that man has never thought of being discreet and that, like his mentor, he has a taste for beautiful things. According to the organization Tracfin, he spent 57621 euros at Louis Vuitton between 2013 and 2016.

The French bloodhounds, who followed him for years during his multiple trips in France, suspect him of being given the money through various intermediaries of Magforce. They were able to establish that he had received at least 704000 euros. Black Crate During his custody, the boss of Magforce will recognize in front of police officers the existence of a "black box" (the minutes quoted by Le Point attest). Since French banks have been reluctant to open accounts to non-resident African dignitaries, it is not uncommon for some of them to use "friends" to manage ill-gotten money on their behalf. When he will be interviewed later by the French investigators, Ghislain Victor Mboutou Ellé will first claim that the money belongs to him, that he left it on deposit with Franchitti. To get out of this bad situation, he will even try, according to information obtained by JA, to bribe the police. Evil took him! In their minutes, they mention three offenses: "abuse of corporate property", "proposal or provision of benefit to a public official of a foreign state" and "aggravated money laundering". But the case will not go further.

As a military attaché living in France with a mission order, he is protected by diplomatic immunity. Free of his movements, he returns to Morocco. For several months, all briefing notes addressed to the Cameroonian president will be lost in the corridors of Etoudi's palace ... Until last November Paul Biya orders his assignment to the Garoua air base, where he was fired for the penitentiary's sinister reputation. Other characters of lesser importance revolve around Mebe Ngo'o, like Victor Menye, deputy general manager of SCB Cameroon, the local subsidiary of the Moroccan group Attijariwafa Bank, but also Maxime Mbangue, former inspector of the Treasury trained at the national school Administration and Judiciary (Enam) and ex-technical advisor to the Ministry of Defense, who has financial expertise. This Catholic, who begins his day at dawn with a Mass, left the orbit Mebe Ngo'o after a quarrel with his friends, but this was not enough to protect him from justice. The confrontation organized on March 5th at the TCS between Mebe Ngo'o, Mboutou, Menye and Mbangue did not reveal any secret, but all are now sleeping in prison. Mebe Ngo'o's own family is in turmoil.

That day, while she was waiting in the parking lot of the court to find out what was going to be done for her husband, Bernadette Mebe Ngo'o, 57, received a call from the prosecutor asking her to come to her office. She will come out decomposed: the floor has just meant that she herself is summoned for the next morning. At 5 pm, the news falls: the minister is placed in police custody. The wife was uncomfortable during the search of her car rental business. Hospitalized for several days, she will join her husband in Kondengui on March 10, in a wheelchair.Dramatic fall For Mebe Ngo'o, the fall is dizzying. Here is the spoiled child of the regime become his black sheep. His star shined so early! Nothing seemed to be able to stop his rise since fate had made him meet Paul Biya, in the early 1990s.

That day, the young fresh civil administrator emanating from the enam must replace the governor of the north, Fon Fossi Yakun Taw, nailed on a hospital bed, and greet the president, then on provincial tour. He introduces himself, taking care to remember that he is the son of Ngo'o Mebe, a former deputy whom Biya had known well. This brief exchange will change his life. Having become prefect of the capital, he mingled with the psychodrama triggered by the quarrel between the president and his friend Titus Edzoa, reminding the prolix ex-secretary general of the presidency his duty of reserve. "At least he has the courage to defend me," said Biya, appreciating the loyalty of this young wolf from Zoétélé, in southern Cameroon. In 1997, he entrusted to him the direction of the civil cabinet.Later, he will take the helm of the National Police.

In 2008, it was noticed by Paris, following the successful outcome of the taking of ten French sailors from the French tug Bourbon Sagitta in the waters of the Niger Delta. The Elysee then proposes to decorate it with the Legion of Honor. Mebe Ngo'o is ambitious but cautious. He is therefore careful to ask Biya for permission to accept the charm. Then, in order not to rush him, he insists that she be handed to him not at the Elysee, but instead Beauvau, at Brice Hortefeux, with whom he looks after his bonds. Mebe Ngo'o knows what it can cost to show his ambitions too clearly, he can not help but see a sign. This Legion of Honor, he sees it as a dungeon of France, and it is in Dauphin he returns to Yaounde.Fascinated by President Sarkozy, whom he believes is indirectly anointed, he pushes fetishism to rent an apartment that once belonged to him, on the island of Jatte, Neuilly-sur-Seine. He will later hand it over to one of his interlocutors: if Sarkozy had managed to get re-elected in 2012, then he would already be in Etoudi ...

And indeed, among the contenders for the succession, Mebe Ngo'o has something more. Charismatic and sure of himself, wearing beautiful costume, he arouses admiration as much as jealousy. Did he not for a long time benefit from direct access to the president, who is not deemed to be close to his ministers? And he is not the only one to believe in his chances: Yaoundé is courting him, a part of the military hierarchy too.

In the capital, the minister can count on the support of his colleague in the government, Basile Atangana Kouna (now incarcerated), Paul Atanga Nji, then in charge of the presidency (and since become Minister of Territorial Administration) and even Rear-Admiral Joseph Fouda, the aide-de-camp of the head of state. But he always makes sure to reaffirm his loyalty to Paul Biya. "I am in the service of the president," he told us a few months ago, as we questioned him about his intentions. Finally released from the government in March 2018, Mebe Ngo'o now has plenty of time to measure the extent of the rejection that his success and his insurance eventually provoked. " Finally ! Most of the dailies garbled on hearing that the TCS was interested in him. Everything happened there: his low regard for journalists since his security service mistreated a reporter of the day; its vast domain equipped with watchtowers;its well-stocked car fleet; his costumes to several thousand euros delivered by Monsieur Pape, famous master Senegalese tailor installed in Paris; his processions of about fifteen cars that were chatted in 2009 when, for six months, he cumulated the functions of boss of the police and the army. "That's when I realized that power had made him lose his head," sighs a former colleague in the government. He had given us a more prosaic explanation: "I never asked to have so many cars in my escort. The specialized services of the different corps that I commanded imposed themselves. Under the fire of critics Tancé for his maneuvers that would have cost their career to conspecifics more estimable than him, he is today described in articles as a politician in the pejorative sense of the term. Among its detractors, Urbain Olanguéna Awono, former Minister of Health incarcerated since 2008.

In his book Lies of State, published in 2016, he accuses: "One of the great inventions of these little machiavels of the Cameroonian tropics was the creation at the beginning of 2005 of what they themselves called the G11. At that time, it was a certain Alain Mebe Ngo'o who was the chief of the police corps, while his big brother Ze Meka Remy held the strategic position of Minister of Defense. The stables of these two men, from the district of Zoetele, department of Dja-and-lobo, southern region, and therefore very close to the origins of the head of state, invented and popularized the history of the G11. What was this famous G11? A group of young executives who were prepared to prepare the post-biya. Did the Cameroonian president see Mebe Ngo'o coming? Did he smear it with honey to better deliver it to the great ants?One thing is certain: the system that the deposed minister served for a long time did not hesitate for a long time before wallowing it in Kondengui. Like many others before him.

In recent months, he has sent two letters to the Head of State, of which he was the director of the Civil Cabinet (from 1997 to 2004), then General Delegate to the National Security (2004-2009), Minister of Defense (de 2009 to 2015) and Transport (from 2015 to 2018). Etoudi did not answer him, but on February 14, when he was auditioned for the first time, he still wants to believe it. Imperturbable, he appears in front of the investigators in elegant dark cross suit, polka-dot tie, Legion of Honor pinned on the chest. The magistrates question him in particular because of suspicions of misappropriation and overbilling in purchase contracts with the French military equipment company Magforce, from the time he was in the defense. After the audition, as he returns to his sedan air assured, all Yaounde believes him out of trouble. We know today that it was not so. Called again on March 5th, Mebe Ngo'o is this time questioned in the presence of his co-defendants. Because to understand this case that has brought down one of the most powerful dignitaries of the regime, who has long dreamed of successor Biya and whose good fortune fueled ambitions, we must look at several other of its protagonists. There is Robert Franchitti, the boss of Magforce, 68 years old today.

Corsica is a well-known figure of Françafrique. It has its entrances in Bamako as well as in Yaoundé. His company has won several markets in Africa, and he has always looked after his middlemen. He is well acquainted with Mebe Ngo'o and his family, as evidenced by the retranscription of wiretaps conducted in 2014 by police officers of the central office for the suppression of serious financial crime (OCRGDF) and published by the weekly French Point in 2017: the two men are talking to each other and discussing both the war against Boko Haram and the Hollande-gayet couple.

Other character: Ghislain Victor Mboutouellé, 50 years old. This lieutenant-colonel of the Cameroonian army is the key man of the galaxy Mebe Ngo'o. His office was the antechamber of the Minister of Defense. Deputy head of the military secretariat, he then has the upper hand on the military markets. As the main contact for Magforce, he oversees the supply of uniforms every year for nearly 10 million euros. The French provider provides equipment against payments made from off-budget accounts of the National Hydrocarbons Company (SNH) or by direct transfer from the Cameroonian Treasury.