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Financial Impropriety Rocks Cameroon Bar 

By Joe Dinga Pefok

The General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association has mandated the Bar Council to designate a financial expert to investigate the financial records of the Council.
The decision was taken after the audit report presented by the 2015 audit team of the Bar was rejected with boos and jeers by participants at the May 21 assembly.

The General Assembly therefore adopted a resolution, mandating the current Bar Council President, Barrister Jackson Ngnie Kamga, to designate a financial expert to conduct another audit of the Council from 2013 to 2015.

According to reports, Batonnier Sama managed the biggest budget in the history of the Cameroon Bar Association, even though the exact amount of money is not known even by his successor.
The Sama-led team has often talked of FCFA 750 million, but The Post learnt that the audit report presented May 21, put the amount above FCFA one billion, while the past Presidents of the Bar had less than FCFA 300 million during their mandates.

It is also reported that while the Sama team inherited FCFA 44 million from the Eta Besong team, the Kamga team met only FCFA 4 million in the Bar’s coffers.
The financial expert contracted will also make an inventory of all moveable and unmovable properties of the Bar, which the Sama team handed over to the current executives.

Former Treasurer Rejects Allegations

Speaking on Equinox TV, May 23, Barrister Joseph Claude Billingha, Treasurer of the Bar Council under Sama rejected allegations of mismanagement, insisting that all revenues received, including funds from the European Union, were well managed.

He disclosed that over FCFA 350 million was used for the running of the Bar. He however said, he was a just a Treasurer tasked with receiving, keeping and disbursing money on instruction.
The former Bar Council Treasurer said since its creation, the Cameron Bar Association has not had any guidelines on the management of funds.
“The disbursement of funds by the Treasurer of the Bar is based solely on the instruction of the Batonnier. There is no limitation on the amount of money a Batonnier can order the Treasurer to disburse for anything,” he said.

Another erstwhile Treasurer of the Bar, Barrister Julius Tabe Ngu Achu, who The Post contacted in Douala May 24, corroborated Barrister Billingha. “In the Bar, the Treasurer disburses money based on the instruction of the Batonnier. Thus the expenditures are based on the discretion of the Batonnier,” he said.

It was resolved that a committee of experts and the wise be created to work on a procedure manual, which will contain guidelines on the management of the Bar’s financial resources and that the Bar will recruit a competent auditor or sign a contract with a credible audit firm for regular audits.

Controversial Land Deals

Another burning issue during the May 21 assembly was the controversial acquisition of two pieces of land in the Centre Region, for the construction of the Bar headquarters.
The two land deals reportedly gulped FCFA 300 million. Three former Presidents of the Bar Council; Tchoungang, Eta Besong and Sama were indicted on the land deals.

Ngnie Kamga said the Bar has no land certificates or any other document in the file to show that the aforementioned Batonniers actually acquired lands for the Bar.

A resolution was adopted to investigate the veracities of the said lands and the real amounts paid. The General Assembly created a Commission to carry out the investigation with a female lawyer as President.
The General Assembly gave the Commission two months to carry out their investigations, though their findings will only be presented at the next General Assembly of the Bar which is slated for January 2017.

Meanwhile, Barrister Achu, who was Treasurer under Tchoungang told The Post that they bought land for the Bar at Mfou on the outskirt of Yaounde for FCFA 31 million. Achu said they obtained all the necessary documents for the land and handed over the documents to Eta Besong when his team took over.

He however said, when Eta Besong became Bar President, he did not like the piece of land that his predecessor bought and said the Bar Council would get back the money that was paid for the land. Achu said he is not aware whether Eta Besong succeeded to get back the money.

But when Sama became Bar President, he decided to buy a different land at Efandena at the Omnisport neighbourhood in Yaounde. Barrister Billingha, who was Treasurer of the Bar, said they spent FCFA 250 million for the piece of land, including the necessary documents.

He rejected allegation by the current Bar Council executives that there is no land certificate for the piece of land. He claimed that they have all the documents, but would not say why the documents have not been handed over to Ngnie Kamga and his team.

Meantime, the President of the Cameroon Bar Association, Barrister Nico Halle, told lawyers that his main objective is to restore sanity in the management of the finances of the Bar before stepping aside.

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