Jonathan’s Indifference to Annexation of 4 Cross River Councils by Cameroon BY OBONO OBLA

In Breaking News, Columnists, Opinion, Politics

by crossriverwatch admin

Barrister Obono Obla
Barrister Obono Obla

I, strongly condemned the indifference of the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan over the latest incursion and annexation of some parts of the four Local Government Areas of Cross River State of Nigeria namely Ikom, Boki, Obudu and Obanliku by the Republic of Cameroon under the guise of a boundary demarcation exercise undertaken by the United Nations in conjunction with Cameroon.

I make bold to assert that the failure of President Jonathan to condemn this latest assault by the Republic of Cameroon supported by United Nations officials on the territorial integrity of Nigeria; amounts to a dereliction of his constitutional responsibilities and duties and a breach of his oath of office.

The boundary demarcation exercise was one of the measures devised by the United Nations towards the implementation of the so-called Judgment of the International Court of Justice dated the 10th October, 2002 in the case filed by Cameroon against Nigeria over the sovereignty of the Bakassi Peninsula.

I even wonder how the Federal Government of Nigeria would have allowed such a demarcation exercise in view of the pendency legal challenge filed in the Federal High Court, Abuja by the People of Bakassi seeking for an order complying the Federal Government of Nigeria to file a case to determine the status of the people of Bakassi who have rejected the citizenship of Cameroon.

It beggar belief that the Federal Government of Nigeria would continue to keep a studied and ominous silence over such a flagrant breach of the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the Republic of Cameroon tacitly supported by the United Nations.

It is a notorious fact that the portions of the Ikom, Obudu, Obanliku and Boki Local Government Areas of Cross River State of Nigeria were parts of the defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria even when the Southern Cameroon were administered as part of the Old Eastern Region of Nigeria .

The Obudu Cattle (Mountain) Resort was founded in 1951 when the British Colonialists were in charge of the running of the affairs of this country and it was never part of the Southern Cameroon. Therefore there was no time that this part of Nigeria was ever part of Cameroon.

Even the Anglo-German Treaty of 1913 that the International Court of Justice solely relied on in its Judgment never included this part of Nigeria.

Indeed all the ethnic groups found in these four Local Government Areas of Cross River State straddled other Local Government Areas of Cross River State. It is therefore inconceivable that the Republic of Cameroon would be laying claim to these parts of Nigeria.

It is interesting to note that the Judgment of the International Court of Justice was wrong to the extent that Nigeria does not share maritime boundary with the French Republic of Cameroon. Nigeria shares maritime boundary with Southern Cameroon. Southern Cameroon and French Republic of Cameroon were two distinct countries until 1961 when they purported became one country known as the Federal Republic of Cameroon.

However the treaty between French Cameroon and Southern Cameroon was never registered in the Secretariat of the United Nations as required by the Statutes of the United Nations.

One of the new facts discovered since 10/10/2012 when the Judgment was delivered is the claim of Cameroon to ownership of Bakassi based on the merger in 1961 between Republic of Cameroon and Southern Cameroon is false and had no legal foundation in international law. Southern Cameroon was never part of French Cameroon.

These were two distinctive territories and entities. French Cameroon was colonised by the French while Southern Cameroon was initially colonised by the German. German lost Southern Cameroon at the end of the First World War and it then came under the United Nations Trustee ship.

The United Nations mandated the United Kingdom to administer Southern Cameroon on its behalf. The territory that gained independence from the French on the 1st January 1960 known and called La Du Republic of Cameroon was the French Cameroon.

In other words when the Republic of Cameroon gained independence in 1960, Southern Cameroon including Bakassi was never part of the Republic of Cameroon. The country that was admitted to the United Nations on the 30th September 1960 was the French Cameroon. In 1961 the French and British Southern Cameroon purportedly merged to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon.

However the agreement between Republic of Cameroon and Southern Cameroon forming one country was never registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations as required by Article. 1 and Article 102 subsections 1 and 2 of the United Nations Chapter.

The purport of Article 102 subsections of the United Nations Chapter is that all international treaties and agreements must be registered by the Office of Legal Affairs-Treaty Section at the Secretariat of the United Nations.

For the avoidance of any doubt it is necessary to reproduce Article 102 subsections 1 & 2 of the United Nations Chapter thus:

1.”Every treaty and every international agreement entered into by any Member of the United Nations after the present Charter comes into force shall as soon as possible be registered with the Secretariat and published by it.

2.No party to any such treaty or international agreement which has not been registered in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article may invoke that treaty or agreement before any organ of the United Nations”

Further Article 1 subsections of the United Nations Chapter provides also as follows:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

4. To be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends”
It well settled that the provisions of a statute must be read together to infer the intention of the legislature.

It follows that the provisions of Article 1 and Article 102 subsections 1 & 2 of the United Nations Chapter must be read as a whole to infer the intention of the legislature.

The implication of Article 102 of the Nations Chapter is as follows

• Each Member State: Must register all international treaties/agreements;

• United Nations Secretariat must publish all international treaties/agreements.

There is no such treaty in the Secretariat of the United Nations showing that Republic of Cameroon merged with Southern Cameroon in 1961. The referendum held in 1961 was to decide whether the people of Southern Cameroon want to be part of Nigeria or remain citizens of Southern Cameroon (not Republic of Cameroon).

The implication of the above is the country that was admitted into the United Nations and has the status of a State Party to avail itself of the jurisdiction of the ICJ is the Republic of Cameroon (French Cameroon).

It follows therefore that Cameroon cannot claim ownership of Bakassi if we concede that Bakassi belong to Southern Cameroon. The implication is that Cameroon has no locus standi to sue Nigeria claiming ownership of Bakassi.

Cameroon has no maritime Boundary with Nigeria before the ICJ. The territory that had maritime boundary with Nigeria was Southern Cameroon.

La Republic of Cameron has no locus standi to have sued Nigeria in 1994 when she instituted the Land and Maritime Boundary case against Nigeria in the International Court of Justice. It follows that Cameroon obtained the judgment against Nigeria over Bakassi under false pretences of ownership of Bakassi.

This is one of the reasons that the Federal Government of Nigeria would have availed itself of the 10 years window allowed by the Statutes of the International Court of Justice to apply for a review of the Judgment of the International Court of Justice but the Government of President Jonathan bungled the opportunity when it allowed the time to lapsed on 10th October, 2012.

There was also the Judgment of the Federal High Court; Abuja presided over by the then Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rosaline Ukeje dated the 25th March, 2002 in a case filed by the People of Southern Cameroon against the Federal Government.

In the Judgment the Federal High Court ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to take steps to file a case against the Republic of Cameroon in the International Court of Justice to determine the legal status of the Southern Cameroon.

It is baffling that the Federal Government failed to avail itself this judgment delivered almost Nine months before the judgment of the International Court of Justice. All efforts by the people of Southern Cameroon to ensure that the Federal Government of Nigeria obey this judgment have been spurned by the Attorney General of the Federation.

I believe that compliance by the Federal Government with this judgment is the key to resolution of Bakassi quagmire.

I therefore call on the National Assembly to take immediate steps to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria in view of the failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to condemn and take steps to challenge the annexation of some portions of Ikom, Boki, Obudu and Obanliku Local Government Areas of Cross River State of Nigeria.

I call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to obey the judgment of the Federal High Court dated 25/3/2002 delivered in favour of the people of Southern Cameroon.

Okoi Obono-Obla

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