Franck Mathière, the vice-president of the group building stadiums for the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, returned to the country in April after obtaining a suspension of the Interpol Red Notice against him. The Frenchman was detained in Ukraine after Nigeria issued the warrant.
The appearance in Yaounde on 15 April of the vice-president of Canadian group Magil Construction, Franck Mathière, alongside sports minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombi raised eyebrows both in Cameroon’s capital and in Abuja.
How could the Frenchman have returned when only a few weeks earlier, he was banned from leaving Ukraine due to a Interpol Red Notice issued against him? His case has set tongues wagging in Nigeria – which issued the international arrest warrant in 2018, accusing him of corruption – and in Cameroon, where Magil is leading the construction of the Olembe stadium that will host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2022. The company also renovated the Réunification stadium in Douala (AI, 05/02/20).
Mathière’s return to Cameroon was in fact enabled by his lawyers who managed to get his Red Notice suspended on 27 November 2020, allowing him to first travel to France in March, and then return to Cameroon.
In France, Mathière is represented by lawyers Pierre-Olivier Sur and Clara Gérard-Rodriguez from Fischer, Tandeau de Marsac, Sur & Associés, and in Ukraine, by Kyrylo Volkov, head of Digna law firm, and in Nigeria by Elvira Salleras, who has set up her own firm.
Nigeria dropped charges in 2019
On 11 November, Mathière’s lawyers sent a request to Interpol to have the Red Notice issued on July 2018 deleted, arguing that Nigeria’s Federal High Court had dropped its charges against him in 2019. The Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) responded by suspending the notice until a final decision is made on its deletion. It then recommended blocking access to the data in Mathière’s file and announced that if any police force anywhere cooperated with the arrest warrant they would be going against the organisation’s rules.
On 16 April, the CCF made a final decision on Mathière’s case, the day after his public appearance in Cameroon, although his fate is not yet known. The commission has one month to send its resolution to Interpol’s General Secretariat, which must then announce its decision within the same period. Mathière should therefore soon know whether Red Notice issued against him by Nigeria, which accused him of money laundering, as reported by Jeune Afrique magazine, and which led to his detention in Ukraine from October 2020 to March 2021, will be upheld.