Ever since the sparrow-hawk operation took root in Cameroon, some detainees of the Kondengui Maximum security prison in Yaounde have passed via the inescapable route of death to gain freedom. Even for those who were seemingly set free, death has still dragged them unto its path of freedom.
Very recently, it was the turn of the former minister delegate to the then ministry of economy and finance, Henri Engoulou. He died in pre-trial detention following his alleged involvement in the embezzlement of public funds, while serving in the capacity of minister delegate in charge of budget. Engoulou fell sick while awaiting trial at the Kondengui maximum security prison in Yaounde, and was transferred to the Yaounde central hospital where he died on May 8, 2014.
Another example is the case of the former board president of credit foncier du Cameroon (CFC), Charles Booto A Ngon, who was slammed a 40-year jail term. Detained in July 2008 for siphoning public funds worth 3.5 billion FCFA in accomplice with Joseph Edou, former general manager of the CFC, he had since November 2008 suffered form a throat and back cancer, and was admitted at the Yaounde general hospital. All requests to fly him out for proper medical treatment fell on government deaf ears and on February 12, 2009, he equally was released from his ailing health and physical detention unto the cold embrace of death.
A more recent case presents itself in the death of Catherine Abena, who died last March 19, 2014. The former secretary of state at the ministry of secondary education was arrested on January 8, 2010 and transferred to the Kondengui prison. On January 15, Catherine Abena went on hunger strike, and was thenceforth transferred to serve her term on a hospital bed in the Yaounde central hospital, where once more, death pulled her onto its definition of freedom.
The glaring examples set aside, it is however not news that since May 2, 2014 the former secretary general at the presidency, Jean Marie Atangana Mebara has been hospitalised, after a malaise at the Kondengui central prison. Mebara has been in intensive care since then at the Yaounde general hospital. His frail health, according to his lawyer, Assira, accounts for his absence in court on May 8. Assira also revealed that Mebara suffers a pancreatic deficiency. On trial with the former ambassador of Cameroon to the United States of America, co-accused Jerome Mendouga over the embezzlement of over 2.5 billion FCFA in the albatross affair, the case was adjourned to June 2, hoping he gains his physical strength.
Likewise, the former minister of then ministry of the economy and finance, Polycarpe Abah Abah, has been a constant visitor to the hospital due to his ailing health. Revisiting memory, he suffered a heart attack in April 2008 and was welcome for treatment at the central hospital in Yaounde. Since then, the former minister of the economy and finance has been a regular visitor to the hospital for check-ups.
On his part, the former secretary general at the presidency and former minister of territorial administration and decentralisation, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, detained at the basement of the state secretariat is equally in a state of not-too-good health. Coupled to protesting the deplorable detention conditions, he visited the national social insurance fund (CNPS) hospital last January 31, 2013 where he consulted an ophthalmologist. Marafa was said to be having eye problems, and reports are rife that his healthiness is also failing him.
Yves Michel Fotso, also detained at the basement of the state secretariat for defence equally has frail health. Reports gathered from close sources say the former general manager of the Cameroon Airlines Corporation (CAMAIRCO), in detention over the botched presidential plane equally endures the weight of fragile health.