Nearly five months after taking the reins of Energy of Cameroon (Eneo), Patrick Eeckelers had to experience the brutality of the local legal system. On August 17, while he was finishing his breakfast at the restaurant of the Hilton hotel in Yaoundé, the Belgian was rudely shouted at by police officers in civilian clothes who ordered him to follow them.
Patrick Eeckelers does not have time to alert anyone, nor to collect documents personal, that he is energetically placed in a taxi which takes him to the direction of the judicial police, where he will spend almost two hours. With the threat of being thrown into a cell, after being heard. “It will take the intervention of the police to release him”, according to the letter that David Alderton – the president and general manager of Cameroon Power Holdings (CPH), the subsidiary of the British fund Actis which holds 51% of the capital of the Cameroonian energy company – addressed two days later to the Cameroonian Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute.
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The police acted on the basis of a requisition from the prosecution, following a denunciation of an employee dismissed a few days earlier, caught in the act of fraud, specifies a source close to the file contacted by Young Africa.
“The conditions of this arrest raise questions about the treatment that the State of Cameroon reserved for representatives of foreign investors and weigh negatively on the relationship of trust that should exist between the strategic partner Actis and the country”, indignant David Alderton. Which adds that other executives, local and expatriate, of the energy company are subject to summonses, arrests or threats of detention for various reasons. In this regard, Cameroonian social networks have been teeming, since August 22, with an alert on the possible arrest of the company’s general secretary, Henri Epesse, by the judicial police. “A fake news”, we answer within Eneo.
This arrest is far from setting a precedent. While leading Eneo, the Cameroonian Joël Nana Kontchou was heard for a day in the premises of the General Directorate of External Research (DGRE), the special services, on the basis of an anonymous denunciation. His successor, the French Eric Mansuy, had meanwhile been the subject of threats of mort.