Laurent Esso, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals has described as “false and unfounded” reports that former minister delegate at the Ministry of Justice, Maurice Kamto is owner of the firm that drafted the controversial new penal code that was recently adopted by both houses of parliament.
Recently, reports went viral that Maurice Kamto who resigned from the Biya regime in 2011 to form his Cameroon Renaissance Movement, MRC Party, was contracted to draft the new penal code described as “controversial” by analysts.
Media reports had indicated that a firm known as Brain Trust Consulting belonging to Maurice Kamto was given the contract to draft the new penal code which sparked widespread condemnation in the country.
Addressing the subject at a press conference in Yaounde Tuesday July, 12, Laurent Esso, who was flanked by communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary and Minister Delegate at the Ministry of Justice, said he was yet to confirm reports that Maurice Kamto was the one who won the bid to draft the new penal code.
“If you can recall, when this issue was first raised at the National Assembly, I told the MPs that I only learned of the contract in the media. Let me just add that the year in which that code was drafted, the budget of the Ministry of Justice was about 28 billion FCFA, I don’t think it is possible that the amount I am hearing could have been doled out for that contract.” The Cameroon Journal notes that the firm Kamto was being tagged with allegedly received 14 billion FCFA for the project.
“I will consult services in my ministry to verify if he was the one who actually took the contract,” Esso who seldom addresses the press, added, without giving further details as to who actually executed the contract.
In the meantime, during the press conference, the Minister spent time elaborating on the new penal code which he described as an important document for the country. He said the new penal code has innovations different from the old one adopted some 51 years ago.
Asked if the new penal code actually gives immunity for ministers, Esso rambled and said it was a misreading of section 127 of the code by individuals he expects should have a mastery of the law. He then said: “I didn’t draft the code. The Head of State submitted the bill and I was only called up to defend it before parliament.”