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Joseph Owona Summoned by Special Criminal Court 

By Basil Afoni

owona summoned

Facsimile of summons served Joseph Owona

Former long-serving government minister and erstwhile Normalisation Committee Chairman of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), Joseph Owona, has been summoned to appear before the Special Criminal Court.

The summons, signed by the head of division of the specialised police investigations unit attached to the Special Criminal Court, Enyegue Mbolong, convened the former top aide of President Paul Biya to appear before court on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 9 a.m.

According to the summons issued on December 7, 2015, Owona will be asked to give an account of his management of the finances of the Indomitable Lions during their 2014 World Cup expedition in Brazil and the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.

Normally, the Special Criminal Court, which prosecutes graft only in cases in which significant amounts are involved, only summons officials it suspects of embezzlement and other corrupt practices.

Owona’s management of FECAFOOT often drew eyebrows, not only because of Cameroon’s poor performances during his time in office, but also because of the financial scandals that delivered raw meat to the hungry media wolves.

For instance, during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in which the Lions lost all their three games, it was alleged that the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Adoum Garoua, and Normalisation Committee Chairman Joseph Owona almost came to a fistfight in Vitoria, Equatorial Guinea, after openly exchanging insults, following a disagreement over the deployment of finances of the national team.

It is in this vein that the Minister was chased away from the Golden Tulip Hotel where he was first lodged. He moved out to lodge at Quality Hotel in Vitoria. There are, however, allegations that the minister left the hotel because it was too expensive for him since he took a suite instead of the luxury room he was allocated and had to cough out additional money to make up for the difference.

On July 20, 2013, after lifting the ban placed on Cameroon on July 4, 2013, FIFA appointed the professor of law, Joseph Owona, to head the Cameroon football body. Under his 26-month reign, Cameroon participated at the 2014 Olympics in London, 2015 African Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil among others.

The committee’s mandate was postponed a number of times due to the team’s failure to draft out the rules and regulations to govern the Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT. This mandate was mostly postponed before major competitions in which the country was to take part.

Set up on July 22, 2013 to run for eight months, the mandate of the committee was extended, enabling it to lead Cameroon to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. When Cameroonians were expecting that the committee will bow out on November 30, 2014, the mandate was further extended to February 2015 making it possible for the transition committee to take Cameroon to the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.

On the same ground that it needed more time to draw the rules and regulations of FECAFOOT, the mandate of the committee was again extended to March 20, 2015. However, the mandate did not come to an end on this date as it was again extended to September 2015, enabling the Owona team to lead Cameroon to Canada for the Female World Cup.

The mandate finally ended in September 2015 after the election of Tombi à Roko as the successor of Iya Mohammed, who is currently in prison.

During this period, Owona, a former Minister of Youth and Sports, managed the billions of francs in the coffers of FECAFOOT.

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