Houses and cars seized, six bank accounts frozen. News received with mixed feelings in Santa. How it happened, Forjindams own testimony, lawyers to appeal judgment; with what chances of success? Why Biya could not rescue him…
By Chifu Edward - The sentencing of Forjindam Zacheus has been received with mixed feelings in his native Santa sub division. While others are smiling in their stomachs some are wailing the frustration of their breadwinner.
It will be recalled that Forjindam’s political demise with some of his Santa elite started when he used his economic prowess to impose change of name of his quarter in Santa to ‘Monfebe’. The reason for the change is best understood by him.
That notwithstanding, the political antagonism between him and some elite became very tense when he made abortive attempts to enshrine one George Town into the political limelight as Section president of CPDM Mezam II Santa during the re-organization of wing in 2007.
George stood election with almighty John B Nde who taught him a serous political lesson. In spite of all attempts by George’s sympathizers to twist the vote count, John B Ndeh carried the day with a good chunk of votes in his favour.
On that fateful day George Town demonstrated his intellectual limitations by hanging on a picture of a man carrying and elephant and trying to seize a cricket from two young boys. The literary and political interpretations of the picture told his own story.
It was not until the end of the exercise that this reporter was made to understand that George was a mere dancer in the road while Forjindam was the drummer in the bush. That particular exercise of ahead of July 22, 2007 municipal and legislative election marked a turning point in the life of Forjindam as his political ambitions antagonized him with the political barons of the Sub Division, Fru Johnathan and others, who at first played the fox, realized himself and repented.
Yet Forjindam who at that time was hailed by the Head of State, saw himself a man mounting and saw himself at the top of the subdivision forgetting that the ‘the grinding stone says you must kneel to my authority’.
This explains why there were mixed feelings in Santa. Most elite The Vanguard contacted refused to comment on his sentence because the ‘issue is very delicate’
The long-awaited judgment on the the case of Zahceus Forjindam and a dozen others finally came out last Thursday October 28, 2010. But contrary to press speculations that Forjindam would be freed, he was given a 12-year jail term and ordered to pay varied sums of money, for instance 848million FCFA to Chantier Naval.
All his property in Douala, Bamenda and Santa including houses and cars are to be confiscated while his bank accounts would be frozen. If he and wife signed a marriage agreement of joint property, it means his wife’s property will also be frozen.
The judgment took the world by surprise not only because the written press, especially newspapers of North West origin predicted his release. Forjindam's declarations in Court and those of his lawyers gave the impression that all would be well.
Forjindam’s own testimony sounded quite convincing: in it he presented himself as an honest, upright and God-fearing person and his testimony as plain truth. He expressed surprise at the manner in which he had been treated after all what he had done since 1996 to bring the company Chantier Naval to the state in which it was.
“Big is indeed my surprise that despite all good sense and reasoning, I was refused an opportunity by the Board of Directors to this company to constitute my defense in July 2006 with the complicity of the Chattered Accountant, preferring to Judge and condemn me without listening to my own side of the story”.
He regretted that the Judgment was done behind closed doors although he was on seat. “And this was done by persons who had a manifest interest in kicking me out of the place (M Bikoro Antoine) who was fighting for the position of D.G”. He said he was paying the price of honesty, hard work and patriotism, which qualities he had exhibited while performing the tasks assigned him by the Head of State.
“Today I am paying the price of these achievements and the vaulting ambitions of certain persons”.
Forjindam failed his detractors for finally stopping the execution of one of the objectively promising Greater Ambitions Projects. The villains, he said, had done everything to prove President Biya wrong for heaping praises on him. He noted that the report of he Supreme State Control on which other Courts had depended while judging other directors in Court had been ignored in his own case. Even the mission orders of this Supreme State Control officials had not been paid. All because these officials had confirmed that he had not embezzled. He recalled that the international donors who had accepted to finance the Limbe Shipyard Project had visited him at New Bell and told him they were not accusing him of embezzling any franc put at his disposal for the Limbe Shipyard project.
Forjindam also regretted that the net turnover of 40billion FCFA when he left at Chantier Naval had dwindled down to 8billion FCFA because of mismanagement. “The company today is characterized by strikes of all sorts and the management of the company leaves much to be desired. This regret is the more worrisome given the perspective for the creation of 5000 additional jobs within the framework of the Limbe Shipyard project are vanishing as funders have withdrawn their financing since my departure from Chantier Naval.
Forjindam felt disturbed that the funds reserved for the Limbe Shipyard project could be diverted to other countries because of poor management at Chantier Naval. He described himself as a strict manager, brought up in the fear of God and by strict parents and that his personal morality could not allow him to embezzle public funds. He pleaded to the Judge to listen only to the dictates of her conscience and render him justice because he was innocent of the charges leveled against him. Despite this appeal the Court still went ahead to sentence him.
The questions on many lips are many and varied. How can a man President Biya praised so often as an excellent manager be treated in this way? A man who in two months provided a floating bridge over the Moungo River after the original bridge collapsed cutting the South West off from rest of the world?
Forjindam performed this engineering feat when the Minister of public works and that of transport were at a loss what to do. The floating bridge made movement from the South West to the rest of the country possible until a permanent bridge was constructed over the Moungo three years after.
Why couldn’t President Biya intervene to rescue a man whom he had not only praised, but whose 187billion FCFA Limbe Shipyard project the Head of State had okayed? Forjindam had persuaded the African Development Bank, ADB, and other donors to provide more than three quarters of the funding. How come that Forjindam provided all the documents required to prove his transparent management of Chantier Naval, yet was sentenced.
The most surprising of all, how come that the Supreme State Control attached to the Presidency carried out an audit at the end of which they declared that Forjindam embezzled no franc, yet he was jailed. Is Biya truly in control or is there a strong mafia that he cannot control?
During the trial it was revealed that Charles Kooh II is the controversial head of Cameroon Audit Counseil, CAC, which carried out the audit which nailed Forjindam. He is a former prisoner at Kondengui Maximum security prison who was released and sent to Chantier Naval by a strong Bassa/Beti Mafia to work towards Forjindam’s nailing. The mafia was bent on unseating Forjindam and taking over the management of the 187billion Limbe Shipyard project. Since Forjindam left Chantier Naval the donors are contemplating investing elsewhere and the mafia is angry with him for discouraging the donors.
Forjindam is in fact, paying the price of his ingenuity. His enemies are not only the Bassa/Beti mafia hinted. The santa Mafia is said to have also conspired with his enemies to destroy him. That is why he drove away some of them who went to visit him during his first at New Bell.
At the time of writing Forjindam’s lawyers are contemplating filing an appeal within ten days as stipulated by law. But many deem that the appeal would rather aggravate than lessen the sentence, considering how formidable the Bassa/Beti mafia is.
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