THE ROLE CONAC AND FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN CAMEROON
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The purpose of this study, titled “The Role of the National Anti-Corruption Commission in the Fight Against Bribery and Corruption in Cameroon,” is to examine the NACC’s role in corruption cases and how it has attempted to promote justice in Cameroon.
The study focuses on the NACC’s consultative role, as well as a critical assessment of its accomplishments and failures, which are blamed for the commission’s ineffective fighting, and offers recommendations to address the commission’s challenges.
1.1 Background To The Study
Corruption originates from the Latin word “currumpere”, which means bribe, mar, or destroy. Much evidence suggests that it has been around the world from time, immemorial and, in recent times, it has occupied a front seat in the global discussion. In spite of its presence everywhere, there exists no universally accepted definition of corruption, and this constitutes one of the principal difficulties in studying the phenomenon.
Despite the differences in the definition of corruption from the public-centered to the market-centered, perspectives, and from the revisionist to moralist perception, there is, however, unanimity in the condemnation of corruption which is a global predicament that hinders economic growth, threatens the integrity of markets undermines fair competition, distorts resource allocation, destroys public trust, and cripple the rule of law.
Corruption is a “virus” that poses a threat to global, socio-economic, and political advancement; thus a universal antidote would be most suitable to counteract its propagation.
In this light, numerous, international, symposiums and conventions have focused on the eradication of corruption across the world through the creation of institutions and the utilization of diverse instruments ranging from the enactments of domestic and international laws to the endorsement of global cooperation in tracking and sanctioning perpetrators of corrupt practices.
These include among others, the 1996 Organization of American States Inter-American Convention Against Corruption”; the 1997 Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of member states of the European Union (This convention was adopted by the council of the European Union); the 1997 Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
Convention on combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; the 2003 African Union Convention on preventing and combating corruption; the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
The Proliferation of Institution charged to combat corruption saw the rise of Transparency International, a global Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) founded by peter Eigen in 1993 (Berlin, Germany) to collaborate with governments, business and civil society organizations to put effective measures in place to tackle corruption.
Transparency International ranks countries annually based on the corruption Perception Index (CPI). This method of measuring corruption is equally used by the World Bank’s Control of Corruption Index which is based on cross-country perception of corruption.
Transparency International is present in over 100 countries around the world, among which is Cameroon- a developing sub-Saharan African country that has been ravaged over the years by corruption. Corruption has been identified as a serious drawback to Cameroon’s quest for emergence in 2035.
This resulted in the creation of numerous anti-corruption organs to effectively combat corruption and allow for meaningful and durable development. Nonetheless, the organization and functioning to the different units assigned to tackle corruption in Cameroon have been heavily scrutinized by members of the public, who often cross-examine the role played by the different institutions, and question their effectiveness.
Corruption is a cankerworm that has been invaded Cameroon society. It cuts across all sectors in Cameroon, be they the public or private sector and, not even the church is free from corruption. It is an age-old phenomenon that has plagued Cameroonian society notably in the Health, Educational, Judicial, Financial, Military, and law and Order departments. Cameroon has twice roped the chart of the most corrupt states in the world-1998 and 1999 as per Transparency International Indices. Corruption is manifested in several forms including, bribery, Nepotism, graft, fraud, speed money, theft. Pilferage, embezzlement, falsification of records and influence peddling,
Corruption (commission or omission) is punishable under section 134 of the penal code of Cameroon. Its indicts “Any national, foreign or international civil servant or public employee, who himself or for a third party solicits, accepts or receives any offer, promise, gift or present in order to perform, refrain from performing postpone any act of his office”. Also indicated under this section, is anyone who receives a reward as remuneration for having already performed or refrained from the performance of an act.
The popular notion of a corrupt person suggests that only the “receiver” is corrupt. The Cameroon Penal Code goes as far as punishing the corruptor. It provides that, “whoever makes promises, offers, gifts and presents or yield to requests liable to result in corruption in order to obtain the performance, postponement or abstention from an act or one of the favors or benefit…shall be punished in a like manner as under section 134(1) above whether corruption produced its effect or not”.
Other sections of the penal code punishing corruption in public service include section 137 (indulgence), section 142 (undue demand), section 160 (compulsion of public servant), section 161 (procuring influence), section 312 (a corruption of employee), and section 184 (misappropriation of public funds)
The classification of Cameroon as one of the most corrupt nations in the world in 1998 and 1999, made the government more willing than ever to fight the illness. The slogan Corruption kills the nation” was adopted by the government in the fight against Corruption. The National Newspaper Cameroon Tribune had a column devoted every day to corruption. The aim of this campaign was to educate Cameroonians on the ills of corruption and the potential damage it could do to the nation it persisted. Government media actively engaged in the denunciation of the acts of corruption in all sectors of public and private life, with the state newspaper. Cameroon Tribune.
Championing the battle by examining the illicit swelling of bills in Administration services, graft in Educational facilities, the police and the army, customs, health institutions, post and telecommunication services, and the railway company among others.
In the early 1990s, Garga Haman AdJi, the then minister in charge of Supreme State Audit and Public Service waged a war against embezzlers of the state funds. He went as far as submitting names of corrupt officials to the presidency, requiring that they be punished. The sum of funds embezzled totaled 357 million francs CFA.
The response he got was rather discouraging as his Ministerial portfolio was modified, limiting his competence to civil service and administrative reforms. He thus lost his authority over the Supreme State Audit. He resigned from the government believing that the modification was due to his hardline stance against corruption.
In as much as his primary phrase of the fight against corruption has its weaknesses, a number of achievements were recorded. These included; the arrest and sentencing of certain high-profile embezzlers such as Professor Titus Edzoa (Former SG of the presidency) and Michel Thierry Atangana by the Mfoundi High Court.
The advent of the 21st century brought about changes in the fight against corruption which was until then, predominately handled by local courts. Several institutions were created to combat this crime in Cameroon. The first of these was the National Anti-Corruption Observatory created in 2000 following pressure mounted on the Cameroonian government by the U.S State Department, the Bretton Woods Institutions, and Transparency International.
Lack of financial and structural autonomy marred the functioning of this institution, thereby leading to its replacement with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC, known by its French acronym CONAC) in 2006. Since its creation, CONAC has led the fight against corruption mainly through investigation of corrupt officials and transmission of the reports to the Presidency to visa the prosecution of the criminals.”
Aside from CONAC, the office of the Supreme State Audit is also a leading body in the fight against corruption in Cameroon today. In 2011, a Special Criminal Court was created to prosecute state officials who misappropriated funds valued equal to or above fifty million francs CFA. Since then, several top state officials including a former Prime Minister, Minister of State in charge of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, Minister of Finance, and numerous General Managers of public enterprises and parastatals have been convicted by this court for funds.
These are clear indications that the advent of 21 century brought about a drastic change in the government’s fight against corruption in Cameroon. The “Operation Sparrow Hawk” was launched by the president of the Republic and placed under the coordination of the Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, and keeper of the Seals to track down and expose public servants who misappropriates state funds.
These institutions were created to jointly and severally uproot corruption which hinders development as its account directly and indirectly for loss of revenue by the government”, It is also important to highlight that the fight against corruption in Cameroon does not exist only in the public sector, but also in the private sector. The results of a survey carried out in 2008 showed that 49% of the 1052 companies interrogated affirmed to have bribed taxation officers. Another 76% of those companies agreed that corruption had negatively affected their businesses.
The Inter- Patronal Organization of Cameroon (GICAM) and Business Coalition against corruption (BCAC) is examples of institutions that combat the practice in the private sector. BCAC for example fights against corruption principally by educating companies personnel on the essence of a corrupt-free business environment. Over 200 companies sensitized on the fight against corruption in Cameroon as of 2015.
Similarly, G1CAM signed two memoranda of understanding (MOU) with CONAC on 11th November 2014, wherein GICAM agreed to carry out sensitization within the private section on the fight against corruption. Transparency International on its part does not end at sensitization but goes even further as to investigating and openly denouncing acts of corruption. It also educates the government’s efforts in the fight against corruption and establishes an annual overall rating of corruption in the world.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
The level of corruption in Cameroon calls for attention since it is being presented at all levels. Traditional rulers, municipal authorities, the executive, and even some judicial are involved in different forms of corruption whole item violates the fundamental rights of the citizens to seem.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission Abbreviated as NACC with its French name La Commission National Anti-Corruption (CONAC) was created by presidential decree No 2006/088 of 11th march 2006 and empowered with a legal Sovereignty charged with the responsibility to fight against bribery and corruption and to promote justice in Cameroon. In order words, the commission is to identify cases of bribery and to inform and collaborate with the government. Unfortunately, the commission has registered very limited success due to its lack of financial and legal autonomy as well as freedom of action and discretion.
To what extent is the fact that the commission only relies on the administration for finances weakens the capacity to enforce its task in the country? The thesis will attempt an analysis of this question with the view to addressing this parent’s problem associated with the approach.
1.3 Research Questions
The following question will guide this project
- Is the role bestowed on the National Anti-corruption efficient in the fight? Against corruption in Cameroon?
- How efficient is the task to National Anti-Corruption Commission?
- Has National Anti-Corruption Commission an autonomous judicial power?
- At measures may be taken to remedy the difficulties encountered by the Commission in order for the effective and efficient?