Environment & Climate ChangeNews

Gabon Forestry Workers President Arrested As Ministry Is Accused Of Corruption

The President of the Gabon National Syndicate of Forestry and Water Professionals has been arrested.

He is being detained on accusations of corruption in the execution of his duties as an official of the Ministry of Forestry and Water.

Mr. Didier Atome Bibang was arrested Tuesday June 7, 2020, and according to Gabon’s Minister of Forestry and Water, Chinese-born Lee White, the trade unionist’s arrest has nothing to do with his activities as a workers’ representative.

“His arrest and detention is rather in connection with procedures previewed by texts in force concerning common law”, Minister Lee White declared.

Sources at the Judicial Police in the capital Libreville told HumAngle that the arrest of the trade unionist follows a report he made against senior officials of the Ministry of Forestry and Water accusing them of corruption in the treatment of files concerning the attribution of forestry licenses.

In a communiqué, Minister Lee White said, “to contribute towards the manifestation of the truth in this matter, several workers, including high ranking officials, amongst whom is the minister, have already been interrogated by the investigators”. 

The minister insists he was communicating to ensure that there is no mix-up between Didier Bibang’s arrest and his activities as a trade unionist.

However, the international environmental protection non-governmental organization Brainforest has indicated that it does not trust in the fairness of the procedure being carried out against the trade unionist insisting that Didier Bibang was being persecuted for his trade union activities. 

Within the past weeks, Didier had called for a strike by forestry and water workers, which strike has been very successful leading to bad blood between the minister and the trade unionist.

“The Minister of Forestry and Water has by this act proved beyond doubt the chilliness and panic which reigns within the ranks of his ministry due to the strike which has affected his ministerial department and the scandals which the workers’ syndicate is bound to reveal to the public”, declared Marc Ona Essangui, the President of Brainforest, terming the arrest as a “method of intimidation”.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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