By Isidore Abah
A protracted bickering between the Mayor of Alou Council in Lebialem Division of the Southwest Region, Dr. Paul Sixtus Ntemgwa, and his Municipal Treasurer, Christopher Eladson Fotabong, has taken an ugly twist after FCFA 12,798,750 reportedly disappeared from the Council coffers mysteriously.
Mayor Ntemgwa is accusing his Municipal Treasurer of being responsible for the disappearance of the funds.
The administrative tug-of-war between the duo was brought to the fore in Buea on March 24, when the Southwest Regional Paymaster General, PMG, Peter Ayuk, summoned Eladson to the Regional Finance Office in Buea.
Eladson said he received a summon from the PMG, instructing him to come to Buea and appear before an Audit Commission from Yaounde.
There was consternation at the Finance Office in Buea, on March 24, when an ambulance from the Kumba District Hospital cruised and parked directly in front of the Finance Building.
Even elements of the forces of law and order who were on guard, were taken by storm as they ran helter-skelter to unravel the mystery behind the ambulance that had conveniently anchored in front of the Finance Building, not a mortuary nor a hospital as is often the case.
On board the ambulance was Eladson, the Municipal Treasurer of Alou Council on drips, looking emaciated, fragile and could barely move his limbs, and a nurse attending to his medical needs.
When the supposedly Yaounde Audit Commission, led by the PMG, approached the ambulance and saw Eladson in a rather critical state, the PMG, after a brief chat with Eladson, doled out some banknotes, handed them over to him and ordered the ambulance driver to take him back to the hospital.
When pressmen, acting on a scoop, approached the PMG to find out why Eladson was summoned under such a condition, Ayuk said he was not obliged to tell pressmen how he is operating his office, because, the next question from the press would be how much each staff takes home as salary.
However, from investigations The Post carried out, it was discovered that the March 24 episode in Buea, followed a series of complaints, letters and petitions that have been written against the Municipal Treasurer.
One of such complaints titled “Reasons for the delayed compliance with the demands of your letter Ref. N0 3383/MINFI/DG1/CRISM/CS1 of 8/12/2014,” addressed by Mayor Ntemgwa to the Tax Auditor, Medium Sized Tax Payer’s Office Limbe, the Mayor regrets the inability of his Council to comply with the payment of FCFA 2,553,578 as waive penalties due to what he termed “the prolonged non availability of the Municipal Treasurer due to his ailing health and other engagements and his resolve not to report the State of treasury transaction to the Mayor, including whether or not taxes due to the State are declared and paid when deducted from salaries or retained on settlement of bills to contractors.”
The Mayor said “at the moment treasury services in Alou are non-functional… I plead to assure you that as soon as order is reinstated, compliance to your letter will be immediate.” A copy of the complaint was forwarded to the SDO of Lebialem and PMG in Buea.
In another letter dated February 26, 2015, addressed to the Municipal Treasurer, the Mayor writes; “It has come to my knowledge that while staff will soon go into the third month without salaries and interest is mounting on a loan we took to pre-finance the Agro-Pastoral Show in December 2014, a lot of Council money is reportedly in your keeping which is as follows;
Transfer made to you via Express Union = 1,650, 000, withdrawal from Cashier = 1,450, 000, withdrawal from Council’s BICEC Account = 6,000,000, money from the Commission Report of 3/10/2014 = 429,750 + 203,000 and money from report of Management Committee of Council heavy equipment = 3,064,000. Grand total = FCFA 12,798,750. Thus, all money must be accounted for from the above to enable us prepare a valid administrative/management accounts for 2014.”
Funds’ Disappearance Attributed To Mysticism, Political Witch-hunting
Meanwhile, despite the above financial analysis outlined by Mayor Ntemgwa, the Municipal Treasurer, on his part, has attributed the constant disappearance of funds in the Alou Council Safe to mysticism and the political tussle between him and the Mayor.
Eladson told reporters that, ever since he was transferred to Alou in June 2004, and the Mayor subsequently discovered that he was earning a better salary than him, the Mayor suddenly became antagonistic towards him and promised to bring him down in Alou.
After these utterances, he went on; money in the Council safe began disappearing mystically. Eladson recounted how FCFA millions have melted on three different occasions in the Council safe without any robbery or any sign of the safe having been tampered with.
Another reason which the Mayor is disgruntled about, Eladson went on, is my political position as CPDM Section President for Kupe Muanenguba.
According to him, Mayor Ntemgwa has always accused him of abandoning his duty post and politicking in another Division, “especially when I rallied my militants during the September 30, 2013 elections and gave the CPDM a resounding victory. With the many congratulatory messages I received, the Mayor vowed to bring my political career to its knees.”
With his current state of health, Eladson said, the Buea incident was a fulfilment of the numerous threats of the Mayor.