Nigeria sends home ex-Cameroonian water minister


Mr. Basile Kouna, Cameroon’s former water and energy minister, was arrested in Nigeria and flown home on Thursday.

Kouna was removed from his ministerial position during President Paul Biya’s March 2, cabinet reshuffle.

In February, he was ordered not to leave the country.

“Kouna is in Cameroon. He was arrested in Nigeria and sent back to Cameroon.

“He arrived this evening,” one police source, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press, told Reuters.

Vision 4, a private television channel considered allied to Biya, reported that the former minister arrived at the international airport in the capital, Yaounde at 6:20 pm (1720 GMT) escorted by police officers.

Another channel, Canal 2 International, also reported his arrest in Nigeria and subsequent extradition back to Cameroon.

Cameroon’s government spokesman was not immediately reachable for comment. Neither were officials in neighbouring Nigeria.

It was not clear what charges Atangana Kouna was facing, but there was speculation on Thursday that he was arrested as part of an anti-corruption drive known as Operation Sparrowhawk.

A former Ministry of Public Works official, the head of a state company, and the ex-rector of the University of Douala, were arrested as part of the operation on Monday.

Cameroon’s oil wealth has spawned a sprawling political patronage system fueled by revenues from crude exports.

Transparency International ranked it 153 out of 180 countries on its annual corruption perceptions index.

Biya has ruled virtually by decree since taking over from a retiring predecessor in 1982 and then winning an election with 99.98 per cent of the vote a year later.

Now 85, Biya is expected to again seek re-election in presidential polls later in the year, but he is currently facing some of the biggest challenges to his 35-year rule.

Cameroon’s oil-dependent economy has been crippled by low crude prices.

And separatists are mounting a guerrilla campaign in the country’s two English-speaking provinces, demanding independence from the majority Francophone Central African nation.

Nigeria had warned it will not be used as a staging post by any dissident to attack the Republic of Cameroon,

The Security Adviser, Major. General Mohammed Monguno (rtd) at the opening of the 6th session of Cameroon-Nigeria Trans-Border Security Committee Meeting.

He spoke amidst local and international outcry over the deportation by Nigeria of 47 Cameroonian Anglophone secessionist campaigners to Cameroon on 26 January.

Although the NSA did not address the issue, he said President Paul Biya and the entire people of Cameroon have the full backing of President Buhari in finding solution to the country’s internal cisis and will not be pawn in the hand of any group that may want to destabilize Cameroon.

“It is critical for me to re-emphasize that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari assures you that we will take all the necessary measures within the ambit of the law to ensure that Nigeria’s territory is not used as a staging area to destabilize another friendly sovereign country”.

Maj. Gen Monguno said it is the hope and belief of Nigeria that Cameroon will emerge from the challenges it currently faces as a stronger and more united country where peace, justice and prosperity reign.

“I hereby assure you that there should be no doubt whatsoever, of Nigeria’s support for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cameroon. I need not stress that the bond of friendship and unity between our two countries is strong and can never be broken”, he said.

He, however, advised and encourage the Cameroonian authorities to engage all aggrieved parties in a constructive manner to de-escalate tensions in the Anglophone regions and facilitate the return of Cameroonian refuges that have crossed the borders into Nigerian territory due to heightened tension and apprehension.

He said “it is also important to observe that Nigeria as a signatory to most of the United Nations international protocols on the Rights of Refugees and their humane treatment, strictly enforces these provisions, not only as an obligation, but without prejudice to the cordial relations between our two countries.

He said it is against this backdrop that the Abuja meeting is expected to exhaustively examine all these developments as well as build on the successes recorded so far in the actualization of peace and security along the common borders.

In carrying out the mandate of Presidents of both Nigeria and Cameroon especially in the area of sub-regional security, the Security Adviser acknowledged the close cooperation Nigeria continues to receive from Cameroon in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group and other transborder criminal elements.

To Cameroon, he said “your steadfast commitment and resolve has no doubt contributed significantly campaign and other security concerns in the sub-region.


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