Wednesday, March 23, 2016

General Philippe Obara: Profile of the head of the Congolese Intelligence Service

General Philippe Obara:  is the head of the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire abbreviated in French as DST or in English, the Congolese Intelligence Service.  This tall skinny eyeglass wearing man is one of the most feared people within the Congolese security apparatus. For with their boss Jean Dominique Okemba, General Jean Francois Ndenguet and Colonel Alphonse Obouande, they form the “dreaded four”.  They are believed to be the men used by President Denis Sassou Nguesso not only to intimidate but also to terrorize the population.  They constitute the bulwark of the regime’s formidable repressive apparatus constituted also of Colonel Serge Oboa and General Nianga Mbouala Ngatse. But contrary to the three others earlier mentioned, he is not a fanatic.  He knows how to say no and is also afraid of international law, hence he is procedural in the way he does or discharges his duty. General Philippe Obara is a very secretive man who doesn’t like to be photographed. But that could be described as an extraordinary quality from a Congolese top ranking personality. For most of his colleagues with the same rank are not discreet or humble, for their names are song by DRC musicians regularly  and they often than not, make headline news for salacious matters or financial improprieties than for  what they are expected to deliver.  

Perhaps General Philippe Obara is a professional and discreet soldier because, he knows his job and understands that, one of the rules for the intelligence service is discretion. Although he is a professional, is nonetheless still feared and not respected, partly because, the Congolese security services are not known to defend or protect the citizen. They are mostly known for their disgusting human rights abuses and Philippe Obara wrongly and rightly, competes in the sub conscience of many Congolese with General Jean Francois Ndenguet in their real or imaginary level of cruelty. The difference between General Philippe Obara with General Jean Francois Ndenguet is that, while people are just speculating on the allege crimes of the first, the second is a fanatical and an assertive criminal, whose numerous atrocities makes him an excellent material for the International Criminal Court at the Hague. In short, General Philippe Obara is every inch different from Jean Francois Ndenguet. First he doesn’t brag and he also commands some respect and have some ethics, whereas Jean Francois Ndenguet has none.  Although most Congolese talk and even hate General Philippe Obara, a majority, has never seen him. Hence they will be unable to identify him on the road, should they come across him. But it was this man, dreaded by the population, in particular by members of the opposition and pro-democracy activists, who invited me and who also told me during our meeting on the 26th of May 2014 that, he was different from all other Police officers having the same rank and influence in the country.  

I didn’t understand the reason why he was telling what he told me. Was he trying to send me a message? That, I can’t tell.  As latter mentioned, the first time that, I met him, and I came to see on his h invitation. He invited me because, on Friday the 23rd of May 2014, I hosted in my programme called La Grande Interview, a Congolese lady called Flore Barros Tchikaya. This poor lady, who has been rendered handicapped by a Lebanese by name Mohamed Hossein Hoji, was suffering alone, with no one besides Joe Washington Ebina, helping her. He was touched and profoundly affected by the ordeal of that Mrs. Tchikaya had gone through, to a point that, he promised to arrest the Lebanese man.  And it was something that, he did. Mohamed Hossein Hoji, the Lebanese man who had paralyzed Mrs. Tchikaya was arrested in Pointe Noire and flown to Brazzaville and detained. He was detained on the orders of General Philippe Obara in the cells of the DST in Brazzaville for 60 days.  And on the day that, he wanted to free Mohamed Hossein Hoji, because it seems he could not do anything, he called me and asked that, I should come and see him in his office. General Philippe Obara invited me for the second time in his office in order to explain to me the reason why he wanted to free Mr Hoji, the Lebanese man who had mutilated a Congolese girl. I found that action of him humbling, for it was rare for top ranking personality in Congo to give respect to a journalist as General Philippe Obara had given me.

He said: if this country and in particular our services do have corrupt officials, you have today met and seen one, who is not corrupt at all. He went on: I have been accused of several atrocities that in reality are not true. And whenever I want to take or make decisions, I do it honestly and in a humane way. He went on: Even to President Denis Sassou Nguesso, when he is sometimes manipulated by some within our services, I have the courage to tell him the truth.  President Denis Sassou Nguesso knows me very well.  He continued: When Marcel Nstourou that I understand is your friend, was brought here for reasons that, you know, he was not maltreated, as claimed. He is a senior army officer that I know and I also know that, he deserves respect due to his rank, even though? I don’t approve nor support what he did.   
I can assure you that, contrary to what I had read in newspapers, Colonel Marcel Nstourou, were properly treated while here. Then he concluded: there are other high profile prisoners from the DRC and Angola, who are  detained here .And whenever any of them falls sick, they are  treated here or taken for medical treatment abroad, if their disease or illness is serious.

I saw in him on that day, a humane face that, I had never heard of or never knew and more, expected such a humane conduct, from a man dreaded by Congolese with sometimes imaginative stories about his cruelty making rounds in the country. General Philippe Obara also added: What happened to Colonel Marcel Nstourou, who is supposed to be your friend, was unfair. But regarding your friendship with him, I can’t confirm whether he is your friend simply because, I don’t know whether Colonel Marcel Nstourou was really your friend, or simply, a person that you admire. But I can assure you that, while Colonel Marcel Nstourou was here, he was treated well and with utmost dignity. Philippe Obara’s attitude toward Flore Barros endeared him in my heart, because this was a lady, who has been rendered handicapped by a Lebanese, simply because she had refused or rejected his sexual advances. And because Mohamed Hossein Hoji is well connected to the powers that be in the country and nothing has happened to him.

General Philippe Obara is a man who is be amongst the security pillars of the country's political orientation, received me in his office and showed me a humane face seldom shown to most Congolese. It is certain that, the Congolese security must certainly have other professionals such as General Philippe Obara, but sadly it difficult to find or see those in such a rank.  For the Congolese security services has been transformed by the President and supported by Jean Dominique Okemba in a bid to maintain the regime and its clan in power, hence most are acting in an inhumane manners. General Philippe Obara after justifying the reason why he was freeing the Lebanese man, asked me to look for lawyer to revive the case of the handicapped Congolese. He told me that, he will be the one to foot the bill of the lawyers that, I will find and who will be able to revive the Flore Barros Tchikaya case. General Philippe Obara might be heartless or rude, when it comes to the defense and support of the regime, but he is humane and this positive aspect needs to be pointed out. This also shows that, if the system was democratic, there are certainly many people within the system such as Philippe Obara who can act within the framework of the rule of law. General Philippe Obara is a testimony that, within the rotten security system of Congo where there is great human rights violations or where journalists are expelled  just for doing their job or where opposition party leaders and civil society activists are arrested in wonton manners, there is a glimmer of hope. For as earlier explained, he takes his time before acting.  He had wanted to help revive the case of Miss Flore Barros Tchikaya, but I was expelled on the 26th of September 2014. And Miss Tchikaya has become an ordinary handicap and her son can’t go to school anymore.

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