Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Zacchaeus Forjindam: The Innocent Man

Since the advent of the Forjindam saga, I had decided to stay quiet, but as days passed by, I felt it was wrong for me to sit quiet while an innocent man languishes in jail as a casualty of personal vendettas. I pray your indulgence to read the story with an open mind. For more than two years now, Zachaeus Forjindam- the former general manager of Chantier Naval et Industriel du Cameroun (CNIC) has been in jail on corruption and embezzlement charges. Antoine Bikoro, Forjindam’s assistant was appointed to replace him; while, he decays in prison.

Zachaeus Forjindam’s case does not win him public support and sympathy because he was CPDM "charge des missions" for the North West. He was one of the Santa six who against popular public opinion prayed for President Biya to rule again for 25 more years. They were even labeled the Six Santa Mad Men. It is alleged that during one CPDM meeting Forjindam sprayed the people with money. He gave FCFA 10 millions to be equally divided amongst 20 CPDM Parliamentary aspirants from the North West, and he added a generous offer of 1 million to a CPDM grenade victim.

In early 2008, Forjindam’s name was the 32nd name on the 61 names list that was published as those the Hawk (Operation Epervier’s) had his eyes on. He was sacked on May 7, 2008 and immediately arrested and locked up in New Bell Douala Prison on corruption and embezzlement charges. Immediately after Forjindam’s absence, the shipyard sank into a serious recession. Antoine Bikoro the man who replaced Forjindam was accused of maltreating workers up to a point where they wanted to go on strike.

When Forjindam was arrested, he was forgotten by even his comrades of the Santa Section. In August, 2008, to save face, the Northwest Elite visited him in Prison.

October 22, it was disclosed that Forjindam's cook was offered a bribe of FCFA 3 million to poison his food.

On Thursday, November 06, 2008 his supporters protested during a Santa CPDM rally. After his arrest his name became an anathema amongst the Santa Section led by John B. Ndeh. On November 11, 2008 rumors had it that he would be released from prison, but it did not happen.

On November 21, 2008 Forjindam went before the judge again. It was then revealed that there were three people against Forjindam: Louis Claude Nyassa, the chairman of the Board of Directors, Antoine Bikoro Alo’o, general manager of CNIC and CNIC’s chief accountant: Charles Kooh II. According to press reports, Mr. Nyasa and even Bikoro (Forjindam’s assistant) neither had evidence nor even the right to bring a case against Forjindam.

In September 2004, Forjindam single handedly prevented Chantier Naval et Industriel du Cameroun (CNIC) from being privatized at a time when almost all state para-statals like SONEL, SNEC, CAMTEL, and many others were being privatized. Under Forjindam, CNIC bought a private company called UIC- that repaired petroleum platforms for FCFA 2.1 Millions. For more than 20 years that he was at the helm, despite all the audits, there was never any embezzlement or corruption charges against him. His meritorious service reached its pinnacle when President Paul Biya became his number one cheerleader. The president cited him on national TV as a model citizen who should be emulated by every Cameroonian.

When his name initially appeared on the list of embezzlers to be arrested, current chairman of Société Nationale Des Hydrocarbures (SNH): Adolphe Modiki wrote a letter to CNIC Board of Directors chairman-Louis Claude Nyasa that legal actions against Forjindam should stall until the conclusion of the investigation. The Higher State Control (HSC) that is usually the one responsible to bring charges against a parastatal agent did not file any suit; rather, it was the attorney general with the complicity of the auditor and Forjindam’s assistant who filed the suit. That is why it is not the HSC which is the plaintiff. Thus, Forjindam is not a casualty of Operation Epervier because it would have been the HSC to bring the charges.

Initially it was believed that SNH which has 40% of the shares was the plaintiff. As wonders never end, surprisingly on February 05, 2010 at the Wouri High Court, the court could not find a plaintiff against Forjindam because the Board of directors was still deliberating on the Audit report. The Attorney general filed the suit from a complaint that was rashly filed by an auditor on behalf of SNH; consequently, the current Board of Directors chairman has been summoned to clarify the innuendo. The crown did not even know who brought the case against Forjindam.

More over, during the audit team cross-examination, Forjindam was not consulted though the general manager at the time. As you know, there is no way an audit will be done without the president or CEO of the company being asked questions.

Rumors have it that it was an intrigue between the South West and Beti politicians.

Therefore, if you ever believe in justice, it is time to request the release of Forjindam until SNH brings the report of the audit. What has happened to Forjindam could happen to anyone. Forjindam’s greatest sin is that he is too kind to a fault; he will give to even strangers. The North Westerners are known for revolting. This is a good cause for which young people should revolt day and night until Forjindam is released. Worst still, since he left, Chantier naval has been slowly but steadily slumping into an irrecoverable coma. He might be a devil, but compared to those who want to crucify him, he is a better devil.

Until then, Forjindam should be released.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).
Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).

Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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