It is normal these days for chiefs in Cameroon to seek asylum in other places in the country, especially chiefs in the two English-speaking regions of the country who have been chased away by Southern Cameroonian separatists who view them as black legs, as well as desperate and hungry creatures who are at the beck and call of a government whose hallmarks are corruption and total indifference to the plight of the suffering population.
But Chief Inoni Ephraim of Bakingili, a former Prime Minister and a ruling party stalwart is taking the notion of asylum to a whole new level.
The beleaguered former Prime Minister, who is still a convict in Cameroon and is currently hiding in a mid-level apartment in France after his medical treatment, is having thoughts that may cause his former boss, the “evil God of Etoudi” to turn off the financial tap that has kept him going in Europe.
Mr. Inoni who had spent almost a decade in the Yaounde Maximum Security Prison for his involvement in the purchase of a defective aircraft for Mr. Biya, the “evil God of Etoudi”, was evacuated to France for him to have world-class healthcare after he developed multiple health issues due to poor prison conditions and the humiliation he and his family are still going through.
Though not totally healthy, the former Prime Minister who told his fellow Southwesterners that Cameroon was the best country in the world and that the Biya regime was an oasis of human rights in Africa, is now thinking of seeking asylum in Europe, a source close to the desperate Prime Minister has informed the Cameroon Concord News Group.
The source, which has elected anonymity, said that the rapid depreciation and unfortunate death of Professor Gervais Mendo Ze, a one-time fanatical supporter of the ruling crime syndicate and a worshipper of the country’s president, Paul Biya, has caused Mr. Inoni to lose sleep.
The source added that Mr. Inoni who has been suffering from nightmares ever since Professor Gervais Mendo Ze died, has lost appetite and weight to the point where his family is concerned.
“Inoni, who was once a key member of the Biya regime, is full of regrets. The death of Prof. Mendo Ze has left him worried and it makes him feel that he might be the next,” the source said.
“His family is really worried and a close relative in Europe gave away the chief’s secret by saying that if he sought asylum in Europe, he could finally cut of the umbilical cord that firmly holds him to the devilish and incompetent regime that is destroying its own people,” the source added.
“Chief Inoni is almost 80 and he might be the oldest person to ever sick asylum in Europe for political reasons. This will really be ridiculous as he might not have the resources to sustain himself in Europe where life is very expensive,” the source said.
“Inoni should muster courage and return home where he could be allowed to return to his native Bakingili. Biya has a way of ridiculing his collaborators and from every indication, Inoni has had his fair share of humiliation and Biya knows that he will never speak up or speak out against his government,” the source stressed.
“Biya is very Machiallian. He knows how to keep his collaborators in check. He has put all of them on a diet of fear and many are losing weight to ensure that the ‘monarch’ does not see them as living better than they should. Though most of them know that Biya is old, tired and weak, they prefer to err on the side of caution,” he said.
“Biya has created a bunch of brutal pitbulls around him and those wicked pitbulls are ready and willing to bring down anybody who is not playing by their rules. The examples of Mendo Ze, Mebe Ngoh, and other former ministers languishing in the Yaounde Maximum Security Prison are constant reminders to any free radicals who may have presidential ambitions or whose views are not in lockstep with the monarch’s prescriptions, the source concluded.
But Inoni is still weighing his chances, though his family lawyer has advised him against seeking asylum which will not only cut him off government funds. Seeking asylum will also dent his reputation out of shape. Staying in Europe will be synonymous with acknowledging guilt. He who has a clean conscious will never fear any accusations, but the poor conditions in Kondengui have really broken down Inoni who once thought he was irreproachable and untouchable.
Though Yaounde government authorities are always putting on a brave face, many know that the wheel of life could turn against them at anytime. Many hate the way things are playing out, but they cannot talk. If any of them had doubts about what Biya, “the wicked monach” could do, those doubts have evaporated following the unfortunate death of the former CRTV choir master.
If Mendo Ze, the conductor, who sang for Biya like a common nightingale and raised him to the status of a messiah could be brought down like a pack of old cards, then anybody could be left for death in the Yaounde Maximum Security Prison. Nobody is above Biya’s malicious schemes. He is an old man who knows he will be exiting the world very soon, but does not want to go down alone. He is determined to destroy anything in his path before he yields to the inevitable.
Inoni must therefore weigh his options. He had chosen his side as a young man. He had decide to side with the devil where he occupied many senior positions. It would therefore be wise for him to stick to his decision to the end, if not, his family will soon be crying like Mendo Ze’s family.
Mendo Ze’s case is certainly not the worst and not the first. The outrage is just because of the graphic images that were brought to the world via social media.
Jerome Mendouga, a one-time Cameroon Ambassador to the United States, was also arrested and jailed at the Yaounde Maximum Security Prison for participating in the purchase of a defective aircraft for Paul Biya. He developed multiple illnesses while in jail. A mercy heart attack put him out of his misery.
His family has never recovered from the pain and though they are not talking publicly, they have vowed that they would never forgive Mr. Biya who sent their father, brother and husband to an early grave.
Pictures of Mr. Mendouga’s emaciated and ailing body were never brought to the world because android phones were not as developed as they are today and the Internet was not part of the prison infrastructure. The country has simply moved on and Mendouga and his unfortunate fate have simply become a footnote in the country’s destructive history.
The examples are legion. Former Prime Minister Inoni should think twice before he acts. The devil has already shown him some of his colors and it is up to him to take the right decision.
While Cameroonians dislike the pain Biya is inflicting on his former collaborators, they are not really sympathetic with this bunch of greedy people who have aided and abetted a regime that has transformed the country into an open-air cemetery.
Those who are languishing in jail clearly deserve their fate. In the 1990s, these former ministers hailed Mr. Biya while he was crushing his opponents, especially those who were members of opposition parties.
Today, the knife has turned inwards and even members of Mr. Biya’s inner circle are having a tough time sleeping. Inoni should take his punishment in stride. He should know that wherever he goes to seek asylum, Cameroonians will show up with documents and pictures to demonstrate that he was a key architect of this government that has sent thousands of Cameroonians to an early grave.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai in Paris