Court Rules On Anti-Corruption Journalists TodayMonday, April 13, 2009
By Kini Nsom -The Post Newspaper
The Yaounde Magistrate Court will, today, Monday, April 13, deliver its verdict on attempted blackmail charges against two journalists.
Zacharie Ndiomo Flash, Publisher of Le Zenith and Armand Ondoua of Le Regional are being detained at the Kondengui Prison in Yaounde following their arrest in October last year. The duo was arrested when they reportedly began investigating alleged corruption that shrouded the competitive entrance examination into the National School of Administration and Magistracy, ENAM.
Going by the journalists, police nabbed them after they attempted quizzing ENAM’s Director of General Affairs, Patrice Tsele Nomo, on allegations that he perpetrates corruption at the institution. They were first detained at the judicial police in Yaounde for two weeks before being transferred to Kondengui. They were later charged with attempted blackmail.
The journalists are facing trial with their informant, Ekombo Nkoumou Tsala, who claimed he worked with the ENAM Director in the corruption network. He testified that he played the middleman to the Director in the racket in which candidates allegedly bribed their way with FCFA 2.5 million each to be admitted into the school.
The scandal was only blown open when some candidates who had reportedly paid the money did not find their names in the list of successful candidates as was allegedly promised by the Director. The matter only leaked to the press, The Post learnt, when the Director refused to refund the money.
In a court session on March 23, presided over by Justice Awawa, Justice Esama and one other Judge, some witnesses testified against the ENAM Director.
One Mrs. Solange Ngandi, a soldier, told the court that she gave FCFA 2.5 million to ENAM Director of General Affairs for his nephew and niece to be admitted into the school. She said she gave the bribe because it is public knowledge that recruitment into professional schools in Cameroon, especially ENAM, is no longer on merit. The lady, who is a warrant officer in the army, said the Director in turn asked for FCFA 2.5 million.
The Director in question denied the testimony but admitted that he knows the woman. On March 31, the Editor of Le Zenith, Christophe Minko, testified that he booked an audience for his colleagues to meet the Director. He said the Director accepted and gave them an appointment only to call police to arrest them.
The lawyers of the two expressed disappointment that the journalists were being treated as criminals, whereas police arrested them when they were doing just their job. Observers are watching to see which way the scale of justice would swing as the court passes judgement today.
Meantime, human rights activists have condemned the incarceration of the journalists. They qualified their trial as a desperate attempt by corrupt officials to render their alleged corruption network at ENAM sacrosanct.
Julius che, 1997 Buea