In a press briefing organized in Buea on May 25, 2012, Ndiva Kofele-Kale, a Professor of Public International Law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, announced that he would be leading the defense of Hamidou Marafa Yaya, Cameroon's former Minister of Interior, who is accused of having embezzled funds meant to purchase a presidential aircraft for Cameroon's Head of State, Paul Biya.
Professor Kofele-Kale who is a leading scholar on the impact of corruption in developing countries and has been at the forefront of the growing movement to make corruption a human rights violation punishable under international law, has issued a statement explaining why he has taken up Marafa's case. Here is the statement in its entirety:
It is so much safe to stand back and watch, as it were, from a Cartesian distance, while the reputation and good name of someone else are being dragged through the mud. But somewhere in his DIVINE COMEDY Dante famously warns that the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who in times of moral crisis refuse to take a stand! I have taken my stand on the side of Mr. Marafa; a decent and honorable gentleman, whom I have known for over two decades, first in the United States and later in Cameroon. I am happy to state that our friendship has over the years transcended our political differences. After devoting 20 years of my professional life researching, writing, and consulting around the globe, on official corruption and economic crimes, I should have no problem recognizing an economic criminal: Mr. Marafa is not one! In the days and months ahead we shall make good on this statement.
Marafa Hamidou YAYA is an eminent son of Cameroon who has served his nation, his people and his President, loyally, faithfully and with great distinction, for 17 long years. This gentleman deserves better than being locked up in a cell in a maximum security prison!
For this reason, we who make up his defense team are determined to do our level best to ensure that he has his day in court to refute these baseless accusations. We shall also throughout the course of the trial, if it ever comes to that, insist that Minister Marafa’s constitutionally-guaranteed due process rights are scrupulously observed and respected. Among these minimum guarantees of a fair trial are: (a) his right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty with the State carrying the burden of proving his guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”, the highest standard of proof in the rules of evidence; (b) his right to prompt notice of the nature of the charges against him; and (c) His right to be tried without undue delay.
Ladies & Gentlemen of the press, we emphasize these procedural rights because they are among the cornerstones of a democratic society which Cameroon claims to be. These safeguards assume even greater importance where, as in this case, the accused risks losing his liberty for a long time.
While keeping a watchful brief over our client’s due process rights, the defense will also confront head-on the criminal charges, if any, that will be leveled against him. It will accordingly mount a vigorous and aggressive defense against each charge; challenging at every stage the factual basis and legal support for these charges. I am not being hyperbolic when I say that the eyes of the world are glued to Cameroon, watching as the case against Minister Marafa unfolds. And for good reason: in the last decade or so Cameroon has distinguished herself as one of the world’s most corrupt countries. Not surprisingly, therefore, world public opinion is eager to find out whether these spectacular arrests and detention of high ranking officials, for allegedly committing acts of corruption and embezzlement of state funds, is all sound and fury signifying nothing! Or, whether, as in Minister Marafa’s case, it masks something much more sinister: a macabre Machiavellian plot to eliminate a charismatic visionary statesman from the political stage, by any means necessary!!
Members of the Press: How this case is handled by our judiciary will either confirm or disabuse public opinion (at home and abroad) as to the unspoken reasons behind this affair. In any event, the Government of Cameroon is on notice!!! Thank you for coming.
Professor Ndiva Kofele KALE, Esq., Defense Counsel
In 2006, Scribbles from the Den interviewed Prof. Kofele-Kale about the Biya regime's anti-corruption drive code named "operation Sparrow Hawk" and his own campaign to establish international mechanisms for dealing with corruption by high-ranking government officials. Click here to read the complete interview.