By Mola Njoh Litumbe*
The question of hosting a celebration to commemorate “Re-Unification” between La Republique du Cameroun with Southern Cameroons is quite topical at this time, following the official announcement by the Government of La Republique du Cameroun to the effect that the 50th Anniversary Celebrations would take place in Buea on 1 October 2011 or at some other convenient time thereafter.
In preparation for this auspicious event, there are frantic activities to give the Municipality an overdue facelift. Along the Molyko highway to Buea Government Station, non-permanent structures are being demolished, while permanent structures are being painted. In the last few days, even the Police HQ building, like the DO’s office building, which has been an eye-sore for years, has also benefitted by receiving a coat of paint which will wash away during the next rainy season.
Work at refurbishing the Buea Mountain Hotel is in progress. During my inspection visit a few weeks ago, I was impressed by the speed at which work was being performed, but in spite of outward appearances, I observed that provision had not been made for mosquito netting to the aluminum sliding windows, as there is no air-conditioning provided; worse, the elegantly tiled bathrooms lack bidets which, at this day and age, are an indispensable bathroom fitting of personal hygiene for visiting sophisticated ladies and gentlemen!
For whatever reason all this renovation is taking place, it merely heralds the degree of pathetic negligence of Southern Cameroons as a whole, over the past half-century, by the state of La Republique du Cameroun. The original intention of the founding fathers was to create a robust Federation of two states, equal in status, with English and French as the official languages.
For starters, the UN Res. 1608(XV) of 21 Apr 1961 which reviewed the results of the Feb. 11/12 Plebiscite over Br Cameroons, and named the date of 1 Oct 1961 when Southern Cameroons was to attain independence by joining La Republique du Cameroun, was vigorously opposed by La Republique du Cameroun that did not want Southern Cameroons to attain independence. Although the resolution was nevertheless carried, La Republique du Cameroun to this day has never accepted in practice that Southern Cameroons is a separate country and, by virtue of UN 14 Dec. 1960 Universal Declaration of Independence to All Peoples that had not yet attained independence, Southern Cameroonians, as a People, were entitled to independence in their own right.
The so-called Federation established by Law 24/61 of 1st Sept 1961 by the Parliament of La Republique du Cameroun was a mere change of name of the sovereign state that had gained independence on 1 Jan 1960.
On 1st Sept 1961, Southern Cameroons was still a UN trust territory firmly under British Administration. The Government of Southern Cameroons had no legislative authority over defence or foreign relations of the territory, as these powers were reserved for the Imperial British Govt in London. How then could LRC pass a domestic law in its Parliament, and allege, shamelessly, that this was the basis of a Federation with Southern Cameroons! Does one entity create a federation with itself? Besides, as a UN member state from 20 Sept 1960, LRC failed to comply with the statutory modalities for union with Southern Cameroons, as stipulated by Art. 102 of the UN Charter, thus making invalid any claim for union, with serious consequences to its claim before the ICJ of title over Bakassi that is located in Southern Cameroons.
For my part, therefore, there has never been a valid union between La Republique du Cameroun with Southern Cameroons, in accordance with international law. The onus is for La Republique du Cameroun to tender the acceptable proofs of a valid union. In the absence of any legitimate proof, La Republique du Cameroun is guilty of the international crime of colonization of Southern Cameroons, a crime long since proscribed by the United Nations. To hide the crime under the colorful smokescreen of “Re-unification,” does not mitigate the consequences of violating international law. Besides, how does one celebrate an event, e.g. a marriage that never legally took place? It would be like celebrating a lie!
La Republique du Cameroun is strongly advised to heed the advisory opinion of the African Commission on Human and people’s rights to enter into constructive dialogue with Southern Cameroonians, with a view to resolving this major constitutional problem as to whether the two parties ever joined, as well as the fact that there is no Independent Judiciary in Cameroon because the President is constitutionally the Supreme Magistrate that presides over the Higher Judicial Council that hires, promotes, and disciplines all members of the Judicial core.
I will end by quoting that eminent Nigerian Jurist, the late Judge T.O. Elias, President of the International Court of Justice (as he then was), in “The Role of the ICJ in Africa,” 1 RADIC, 1989. p.8, where he states:
“We are thus faced with a situation in which Third World States, themselves the pre-beneficiaries of resolution 1514(XV) guaranteeing the principle of self-determination of all peoples, become modern colonizers of less fortunate peoples within their area.”
*Mola Njoh Litumbe is a Cameroonian political party leader, retired chartered accountant and minority rights campaigner
First Published in The Recorder Newspaper,Cameroon,of December 24,2012