The Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, has said the opinion, widely relayed by some national and international media, to throw doubt on President Paul Biya’s sincerity to fight against corruption, is inaccurate.
He made this statement during a press briefing on Thursday, July 3 at his Ministry’s Conference Hall.
According to Tchiroma, the opinion conveyed seems to be grounded on the commutation and remittance of sentences following the presidential decree n°2014/058 of 18 February, 2014 to commit and remit sentences, which for the first time, was extended to compatriots sentenced for embezzling public funds.
“This opinion claims that the release of some prisoners, pursuant to presidential decree of last February 18, or even only under normal judicial procedures, would ring a death knell on the crusade against embezzlement of public funds led by the Head of State and the Judicial branch of our country. This interpretation of facts, which I qualify as inaccurate, leads me to first throw light and give some details that are necessary for understanding the situation and secondly, to express the full determination of President Paul Biya, to relentlessly continue without any complacency, the fight against the embezzlement of public funds in our country,” he said.
Tchiroma went on to explain that with regards to the decree of February 18, 2014, the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon states that the President exercises the power of mercy. “Mercy by definition, is the partial or full commutation and remittance of sentences, conditioned or not by safety measures and probation obligations. Meanwhile, mercy remains without effect on the sentence and applies only to the execution of the sentence. Pecuniary sentences (damages cost of the procedure) remain due”, he explained.
To him, the decree came out in an exceptional context, full of history and significance for the life of the nation. “This had to do with the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Reunification of our dear and beautiful country, which was an opportunity for us to celebrate the virtues of national unity, peace and tolerance, so dear to the Cameroonian people,” he said.
Tchiroma reiterated that President Paul Biya at the end of the ceremony to inaugurate the ‘fiftieth anniversaries’ monument in Buea seized the opportunity to explain to his compatriots the real reasons justifying his decision to sign this decree which, also, falls within the prerogatives conferred to him by the Constitution of Cameroon. “Allow me to quote him once again: « With regard to the remittance of sentences, this is to show the importance for us to nurture unity. I wanted it to be a great moment of joy. The joy should also reach even those who were somehow at war with the law. Some have also recovered their freedom. We want it to be a great moment of joy and happiness to enhance national unity.”
Tchiroma further explained that the decree is a text of general scope and applicable to all those falling within the framework of the 13 cases targeted in the 13 paragraphs of the said decree.
“Regarding the persons sentenced to prison on terms for embezzlement of public funds, the pertinent provisions are contained in paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 of the above mentioned decree. It therefore appears that a total of 24.000 prisoners across 77 prisons benefited from the presidential mercy. This is clear that this decree was not tailored to suit specific prisoners as falsely claimed by a given opinion,” he affirmed.
BY Marie Solange Moki