Metouck Admits Signing Documents After His Sacking
By Francis Tim Mbom
The former General Manager of SONARA, Charles Metouck, has admitted that he signed two documents after his sacking on February 15. He said he got back to his office on February 18. Metouck said the company’s Commercial Manager, Ngalle Noe Mouelle, convinced him to sign the two documents.
The sacked GM was speaking on Thursday, April 4, in the Limbe Court after he was called up to present his testimony, for the first time since he was dragged to court on Friday, February 22.
The Court had ruled that Metouck be heard first before the Board Chairman, John Ebong Ngole.
On Monday, April 1, the Court had decided to summon Ebong Ngole for testimony on April 4.
Ebong Ngole, actually, appeared in Court but was asked to hang on while Metouck testifies. Thus, the Court spent much of the day just to listen to Metouck recount his story as it happened between Friday, February 15 and Monday, April 18, police arrested him at his residence at Bota, Limbe, at about 5:00 pm and ferried to Buea for detention.
The two documents in question were a “Payment Undertaking” destined to one Nigerian-based crude oil supply company, SAHARA Energy with which SONARA had, on January 28, signed a contract for the supply of some 650,000 barrels of crude oil. Thus, SAHARA Energy had to send to SONARA a payment undertaking for SONARA to sign acknowledging that, as Metouck said, they would pay the agreed amount when the bill of laden finally gets to SONARA with the cargo. His lead defence counsel, Barrister Maurice Welabi, led him through the presentation process which went on for over five hours. The prosecution led by Magistrate James Eni Mokube, grilled him for over two hours, during the cross-examination-in-chief phase of the case. Metouck said that he signed the documents in order to allow for a smooth continuity when the New GM fully resumes work.
Metouck said, as per the January 28 agreement, SONARA had to sign and forward the payment undertaking to the bankers of SAHARA Energy ten days before SAHARA commences the loading of the 650,000 barrels. He said the supply date had been fixed for February 26, and if he failed to sign the document on that February 18, SAHARA would have refused to load the cargo from the port terminal in Nigeria, and SONARA would have run dry of crude oil.“
According to Metouck, SONARA loses FCFA 1 billion each day that it does not produce.”
He said his signing on that Monday, February 18, in his capacity as GM was to avert such a situation where the new General Manager would come in and the refinery runs dry of crude oil.
“Then it would be as though I wanted to sabotage the new GM’s functioning. So, I signed to allow for a smooth continuation of production. I had no personal interest,” Metouck said.