Further Negotiations Cannot Solve Bakassi Impasse

In Breaking News, Reports

By Mola NJOH LITUMBE

The Bakassi issue is not likely to be solved by further negotiations
by Nigeria with La Republique du Cameroun (LRC) that cited Nigeria
before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1994. It is
noteworthy that under the ICJ Statute, only sovereign states that are
members of the United Nations have locus at that Court. Both LRC and
Nigeria were admitted members of the UN on 20 Sept 1960 and 7 Oct 1960
respectively.

On attaining independence, a country inherits the boundaries of the
territory surrendered to it by its Colonial master. For LRC, this was
over the territory of French Cameroun on 1 Jan 1960, and for Nigeria 1
Oct 1960. It was not luntil 11 Feb 1961 that the UN conducted a
Plebiscite in Southern Cameroons to ask Southern Cameroonians if they
wished to attain independence by joining either Nigeria or LRC.

It is thus clear that in Feb 1961, the UN trust territory of Southern
Cameroons could not have formed any part of the independent states of
Nigeria or LRC. The UN Charter, Art 102, stipulates the modalities to
be followed should any member state desire to join another territory.
That Article ordains that the two parties must reduce the terms of
joining into a written signed Agreement, and forward a copy thereof to
the UN Secretariat for publication to the whole world stating, as it
did for Senegal and The Gambia, when those two states united to form
Senegambia.

It was established by the ICJ that the Bakassi Peninsula is located in
the former UN trust territory of Southern Cameroons. On that basis
the Court declared Bakassi as being “Cameroonian.” Because it was LRC
that sued Nigeria, all parties, including Nigeria, were misled into
assuming that title over Bakassi was vested to LRC. This is a
monumental fallacy.

For LRC to have succeeded in this action, it had to first tender proof
that the territory of Southern Cameroons had, subsequent to 11 Feb
1961, united with LRC in accordance with Art. 102 of the UN Charter
which would have necessiated the signing of a Treaty of Union between
the two parties, and a copy of the Treaty filed at the UN Secretariat.
The penalty for failing to comply with this procedure is contained in
the UN Charter Art. 102(2) which declares that failing compliance,
such a joining arrangement is invalid and cannot be cited before any
of the six Organs of the UN, one of which is the ICJ.

The truth of the matter is that the tripartite meeting which the UN
General Assembly prescribed in Res. 1608(XV) of 21 Apr 1961 that the
Administering Authority, the Government of Southern Cameroons, and the
Government of LRC should meet to finalize the undertakings and
understandings of the parties to the proposed Union, before 1 Oct
1961, did not hold, so there is no Treaty of Union between LRC and
Southern Cameroons filed at the Secretariat of the UN. What appears
at the UN record is merely that French Cameroun which became
independent on 1 Jan 1960 as La Republique du Cameroun, was the
sovereign state admitted as a member of the UN on 20 Sept 1960.

Thus, with no legal title over Southern Cameroons in which Bakassi is
located, LRC cited Nigeria for invading “its” territory of Bakassi, in
the full knowledge that Bakassi was not part of its territory at
independence, and there has been no subsequent Treaty of Union with
Southern Cameroons where Bakassi is located..

With respect, the ICJ was correct in establishing that Bakassi is
“Cameroonian,” and on this there is hardly any valid ground for
Nigeria to seek a Review, for Bakassi was not within the territory it
inherited from Britain at independence on 1 Oct 1960. The problem is
that Bakassi was mistakenly “awarded” to LRC which has no legal title
either over Southern Cameroons, and it has now come to light that LRC
obtained judgment by fraudulent misrepresentation.
On this point, The Federal Republic of Nigeria, by virtue of a Consent
Judgment between the People of Southern Cameroons and the
Attorney-General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the Federal
High Court in Abuja presided over by the Hon Mrs Justice Rosaline
Ukeje in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/30/2002, gave an Order that “The Federal
Republic of Nigeria shall institute a case before the International
Court of Justice” on the Southern Cameroons Problem.

To enforce the Judgment of the ICJ in favour of LRC would mean that an
Organ of the UN (the ICJ) was being manipulated or raped to consider a
matter that openly violates Arts. 102/103 of the United Nations
Charter. This is patently inadmissible and will not generate the
Peace that the world body was created to foster for its members to
adhere to the Rule of Law and endeavour to settle their disputes by
peaceful means.

Mola NJOH LITUMBE
Senior Citizen, Politician & Opinion Leader
Southern Cameroons.

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