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Supreme Court Reduces Fornjindam Jail Term



Zacchaeus Mungwe Fornjindam, the former General Manager of the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering, CNIC, was on Tuesday, November 1, 2016, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by the Supreme Court in Yaounde. This followed an appeal by his counsel after he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2012 by the Littoral Appeal Court for embezzling about 350 million FCFA.

Zacchaeus Fornjindam was on Tuesday found guilty of embezzling 273 million FCFA during his tenure at CNIC. The unanimous ruling was read out by Justice Mvondo Evezo’o, President of the Specialised Bench of the Supreme Court. Out of the amount, 214 million FCFA was paid out to Logisco, a CNIC contractor that belonged to one of its staff, Louta Samuel. The court said this created conflict of interest. The remaining 59 million FCFA was unjustified expenses the former GM incurred. Another co-accused, Djane Antoine, was slammed a 32-year imprisonment; while Louta Samuel got 25 years.

The court lifted the confiscation of five homes and a vehicle belonging to Fornjindam. However, it confiscated a car and 11 plots of land in Douala, Yaounde and Mezam Division of the North West Region belonging to Fornjindam and wife. Similarly, five of Fornjindam’s bank accounts were frozen. Louta Samuel’s bank accounts were also confiscated. Fornjindam and co-accused are to pay 470 million FCFA to the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering as losses.

Responding to the ruling, Barrister Baombe Paul, one of Fornjindam’s counsel, said overall, he was disappointed as it was never proven that his client stole any money. He said Fornjindam was simply the victim of his own ingenuity and success, which prompted the jealousy of his enemies. His colleague, Barrister Djoubairou Ousmanou, said it was unthinkable that assets Fornjindam acquired with his wife, a well-known, successful business woman, should also be confiscated. Meanwhile, Fornjindam faces at least two other corruption trials at the Supreme Court, including an appeal against a life conviction for embezzling about 200 million FCFA.

The story of Zacchaeus Mungwe Fornjindam is anything but a paradox. He led CNIC for almost 20 years, about half of it in acting capacity. Several times congratulated by President Paul Biya for lifting the performance of the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering to an enviable level, Fornjindam was soon to be fired and arrested in 2008 on charges of corruption. His lawyers told Cameroon Tribune that at the time Fornjindam was fired from CNIC in 2008, it had an annual turnover of 48 billion FCFA. But the amount dropped to a single billion FCFA one year after.
“Today, the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering is a shadow of its old self, with General Managers replaced regularly without any lasting solution being found to the problem,” noted Barrister Baombe Paul. “The takeoff of the Limbe Petroleum Dockyard, the brainchild of Zacchaeus Mungwe Fornjindam, remains in doubt, with 5,000 direct jobs missed. Someone like Fornjindam should be protected against the wicked. People like him make the strength of the State,” Barrister Djoubairou Ousmanou said. “CNIC is plagued by workers strikes, with salaries paid irregularly, yet the author of the glorious years of the company is languishing in jail,” he noted.

Cameroon Tribune

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