By Kini Nsom
The incident in which security operatives from the United States of America arrested a Cameroonian woman, Miss Mubang in Bamenda on May 27, 2005, was the subject of debate during one of the plenary sittings of the third Parliamentary session that ended last week.Hon. Emmanuel Yoyo, Member of Parliament for Ngoketunjia constituency, used the plenary that was devoted to the adoption of the bill on extradition to raise the issue.
The bill was aimed at authorising the Head of State to ratify the convention on extradition for CEMAC member states. According to the explanatory note of the bill, the convention is the commitment of CEMAC member states to unite against trans-border crime. It is aimed at tracking down criminals who commit crimes in one country and escape to hide in another.
It was within this context that Hon. Yoyo asked how the US Police could be allowed to come in and arrest a citizen on Cameroonian territory. He also asked whether Cameroon has any convention with the US to that effect. "Does the Cameroon government have any right to arrest somebody we consider a criminal in the US?" the MP questioned.
For an answer, the Vice Prime Minister in charge of Justice, Amadou Ali, said he was not aware of the Mubang case. The Minister later said Miss Mubang obtained an American nationality, and is being considered an American.
He explained that the law makes it very clear that when a Cameroonian naturalises to become a citizen of another country, he or she automatically loses the Cameroonian nationality. In other words, the Minister said, Mubang committed a crime in her country and came to hide in Cameroon.
"I am talking about the daughter of Mubang in Bamenda, Mr. Minister, whom you earlier claimed not to know about her case, yet you say she is an American citizen," Yoyo cut in.
The Minister said he heard about the issue but has not studied the case so could not give the MP any further details. He said Cameroon has no extradition agreement with the US, but stated that the International Criminal Police, Interpol, anywhere in the world, could arrest anyone who has been issued an international warrant of arrest. "I guess this is what happened with the lady you are talking about," the Minister told the MP.
While answering questions from other MPs, the Minister sought to ward off fears that government will use the extradition law to arrest their political enemies. He said extradition would strictly be a judicial act that concerns only common law criminals.
He said files on extradition would have to move from one judicial country to another.
Theresia Mubang had been sentenced to 17 years imprisonment by a District Court in Greenbelt, USA, for enslaving an 18-year-old fellow Cameroonian, Evelyn Chumbow, whom she had smuggled to the US using a false passport.