The Biya Military Regime, a Tradition of Corruption
The “loyalist” officers who defeated the April 6th coup attempt, all of them made generals today, gave the power back to Paul Biya in 1984 under secretly agreed upon conditions. One of these conditions appears to be total impunity on all crimes they would commit. Those officers are currently the untouchable corrupted, embezzlers and terrorist gangs’ godfathers Paul Biya cannot go after in his so called anti-corruption drive.
By Ndzana Seme

NEW YORK 01/28/2006 - Paul Biya, then prime minister of former president Ahmadou Ahidjo, became president thanks to a “constitutional coup” organized by the French. In fact, the Constitution of Cameroon then stipulated in one of its articles that the prime minister would become the president of the republic in the event incumbent president is incapacitated.

During a medical visit in 1981, French physicians told Ahidjo that he had a grave mental disease that made him incapable of pursuing his job as president of Cameroon. The health information precipitated Ahidjo’s resignation on November 1981.

This was followed by a “bicephalism conflict” at the head of Cameroon’s State between the president of the single party Cameroon National Union (CNU) Ahmadou Ahidjo and the new president of the republic Paul Biya. But the new leader’s incapacity at handling State issues, along with the fact that most officials and civil servants kept paying allegiance to the CNU president, most of all military officers who had only contempt for Paul Biya, created an atmosphere of instability.

On April 6, 1984, hundreds of army officers and troops seized the presidential palace (Paul Biya and his relatives took refuge into an underground bunker), the national radio, the airport and controlled strategic buildings and locations in the political capital Yaounde.

A sabotage (by the French?) of the coup attempters’ communications with the rest of the national armed forces gave army officers loyal to Paul Biya the opportunity to reorganize and to lead a successful counter-offensive. The coup attempters were defeated.

The military officers presenting themselves as the loyalists were in power two days later. After having massacred hundreds of coup plotters, they also led an ethnic cleansing with killings of hundreds of innocent individuals whose only sin was being born in the Northern area of the country, the region of origins of Ahmadou Ahidjo and most coup attempters.

The military officers who led the counter-offensive and defeated the coup plotters – they are current generals nominated by Paul Biya, except retired Colonel Titus Ebogo who commanded troop from the Southern battalion of Ebolowa and liberated the airport – decided to give the power back to the civilian Paul Biya, under secretly agreed upon conditions.

Corrupted, terrorists and embezzlers of public properties, Generals are above the laws in Cameroon

Since then, these officers are covered by a total impunity by president Biya for whatever crime they would commit. Contrary to all the other Cameroonians, including ministers and other government appointees, these generals are totally free to use corruption, embezzlement of public properties and funds, terror and all kinds of abuses. These generals, along with their relatives and accomplices, are above the laws, because the Biya regime is actually a military regime.

They are behind every major political decision Paul Biya may take. They make sure they take the biggest share of every major economic opportunity the State may open; which explains why salaries in the army were doubled or tripled while civil servants’ salaries were halved in 1993 by Paul Biya.

One of the last biggest tropical forest reserves on earth is being completely decimated in Cameroon. The mafia surrounding Cameroon’s wood business has two main types of actors: European individuals managing lumber companies, who are actual henchmen and accomplices of Cameroonian officials, and the generals who are owners of the trucks that transport wood barks to sea ports. Often, those trucks have no insurance and most have not even been registered. Tax collectors know them only as General Nganso’s trucks, General Benae’s trucks, General Esso’s trucks, etc. But there are also Frank Biya’s trucks that were reported when this son of president Biya was still in the country.

Access to the army occupation is one of the oldest and well rooted networks of corruption in Cameroon. Students are required to pay bribes of 800,000 francs Cfa (about $1,500) or more to be admitted to the Military Inter-Arms School (EMIA). And the current commandant of the EMIA, Colonel Mbida Gabriel, son of retired Colonel Ebogo Titus, pilots the corruption machine.

Colonel Mbida Gabriel is former Commander of the Northern battalion of intervention in charge of combating road gangs called “coupeurs de route”. He immediately became well known for his ruthless and unpunished killings and torture of both gang members and innocent villagers. After each series of killings, it is reported that Colonel Mbida Gabriel and his men would plunder villages, take gangs’ loot and keep all seized moneys and goods as their individual properties.

General Ngambou Isaïe is another officer who built wealth through corruption and embezzlement of public funds. This started when he was Commander of the Unit of artillery at Dschang. Commander Ngambou was known to all recruits for his embezzlement of the troop’s food, the nutrition fees and his fabricated mission benefits.

General Ngambou has built an impressive real estate empire, with several residential and commercial properties in Cameroon. It is reported that Ngambou always took the precaution of giving General Tataw James and General Pierre Semengue their “envelops” (their share of loot) after each embezzlement operation. Envelops given to the hierarchy is the rule one should follow to ensure oneself the protection of impunity in Cameroon.

Current news is that General René Claude Meka and his nephew the defense minister Rémy Ze Meka have embezzled the ex-Amacam building of Akwa, Douala (See our files about the
Amacam matter).

The question is whether Paul Biya is able to order the investigation and to have General Meka arrested and tried for embezzlement and corruption. Wouldn’t such a decision be a breach of the agreement Paul Biya reached with this group of officers on April 1984?

Even though the role of René Claude Meka in the operations that defeated the April 6th coup is still not clearly known today, he was one of those who remitted the power back to Paul Biya. General Meka being tried of corruption represents a big threat for all the other generals who have already accumulated wealth through corruption, embezzlement of public properties and terror.

The threat that immobilizes Paul Biya for any anti-corruption drive is that those generals can take their power back at any time.

Généraux d'armées
Rene Meka et Pierre Semengue
Généraux de corps d'armées Nganso Sundji Jean et Oumarou Jam Yaya
Généraux de Division
Mambou Deffo Roland  et Angouand Claude Laurent
Généraux Tataw Tabe James  et Asso'o Emane Benoît
Généraux Mpay Philippe et Nkoa Atenga Camille
General Samobo Pierre and Vice Amiral Ngouah Ngally Guillaume
Generals Douala Massango Zacharie and Obama Isidore
Generals Benae Mpecke Blaise and Yakana Guebama Paul
Generals Ivo Desancio Yenwo and Baba Souley
Generals Ngambou Isaie and Tchemo Hector Marie
General Saly Mohamadou...
and also Generals Oumarou Garoua, Taka Songola Gabriel, Dagafounangsou Simon Pierre
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