'unauthorised exploitation'

Cameroon-Nigeria: from Yaoundé to Lagos, wood and money

in depth

This article is part of the dossier:

Timber Trafficking

By Mathieu Olivier

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Posted on July 12, 2022 12:01

For nearly 15 years, a new forestry law in Cameroon has been in the making to curb the illicit trade in precious woods. While waiting for its promulgation, the trafficking continues, all the way to the Nigerian border. We dive into the heart of a mafia with deep roots.

This is part 3 of a 6-part series

The year is 2008. At Etoudi Palace, Paul Biya is already preparing for the presidential election that will give him a sixth term in three years. Not far from the presidency, at the ministry of forests and wildlife, Elvis Ngolle Ngolle is setting in motion a large-scale project, that of the management of Cameroon’s forestry domain. The law governing the sector dates from 1994. A different era. Donors, led by the EU, are demanding its revision. The words ‘control’ and ‘transparency’ are pronounced, repeated and hammered home. Therefore, the minister, on the instructions of the head of government Ephraim Inoni and President Biya, takes matters into his own hands, in collaboration with the holder of the finance portfolio, Essimi Menye.

A broad consultation of forestry stakeholders was launched. Business leaders, civil society associations, traditional

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