According to a report tilted “Historians and Constitutionalists Panel Say Reunification Was Illegal” published online t by Sylvanus Ezieh, (CJ) on April 5, 2013, historians and constitutionalists assembled in Yaounde for a conference-debate on the theme “The case of Cameroon at the UNO,” organized by the commission in charge of studies, conferences and debates for the celebration of fifty years of reunification of Cameroon. The close to 800 participants included Julius Victor Ngoh, eminent Professor of History, University of Buea, and Ondoua Magloire, seasoned Professor of Public Law and Constitutional Specialist.
The esteemed panelists importantly declared at the end of their deliberations that,no legal documents were established at the time of re-unification between the two Cameroons to bind them in a union.
This is a position that the LDA has championed for decades and is published in a bilingual booklet titled The Annexation of the former British Administered UN Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons.
2(a) The panelists, however, failed in their attempts to provide legal or constitutional underpinnings for the discussions held in Foumbam in July 1961 between British Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun, led respectively by Premier John Ngu Foncha, and President Amadou Ahidjo.
(b) The fact of the matter, however, is that as from October 1, 1960 when Nigeria attained independence and Her Majesty’s Government in Britain could no longer administer the UN trust territory of Southern Cameroons from Nigeria, Her Majesty’s Government had laid before the British Parliament on 12 Sept 1960 a new Constitution for Southern Cameroons which came into force on 1 Oct 1960. It was known as The Southern Cameroons (Constitution) Order in Council, 1960, which created a ministerial Government in Southern Cameroons with a Commissioner for Cameroons who inherited the powers that were hitherto vested on the Governor-General of Nigeria. That Constitution provided for two Houses of Parliament, an independent Judiciary, but invested the Commissioner with wide powers over the territory. It is clearly stated within that constitution that powers over Defence, Foreign Relations, and Taxation were outside the competence of the Southern Cameroons Government, and accordingly outside the duties of the Premier and any other member of his Government. Premier Foncha who led the delegation from British Southern Cameroons, did so outside his constitutional powers. Therefore, the Foumban conference was illegally constituted and all discussions, proposals, decisions and expectations lacked constitutional authority. President Ahidjo and his delegation, on the other hand, were empowered by the constitution of La Republique du Cameroun to represent their State.
Irrefutably, this glaring asymmetry at the Foumban conference renders all of its deliberations nonbinding on the unequal partner, British Southern Cameroons.
3. La Republique du Cameroon graduated to independence on 1 Jan. 1960 with internationally defined borders. In order to belong to the comity of free nations of the world, it applied and was admitted a member of the United Nations Organization on 20th Sept 1960. Upon being admitted into that UN club, it became bound to comply with the provisions of the Charter of the UN. It is that Charter which provides in Art 102, the statutory steps that any member state of the UN must comply with if it desires to join another territory. There has to be a written Agreement with the territory the UN member state wishes to join, resulting in the variation of its territorial boundaries filed at the UN Secretariat at the time it applied for membership.
4. The UN General Assembly in reviewing the results of the 11 Feb. 1961 plebiscite in Southern Cameroons advised strongly in Res. 1608(XV) of 21 Apr. 1961 thus:
“(5). Invites the Administering Authority, the Government of the Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroun to initiate URGENT discussions with a view to finalizing, before 1 October 1961, the arrangements by which the agreed and declared policies of the parties concerned will be implemented.”
5. Had such a tripartite meeting been held, setting out the agreed terms of joining as previously declared by President Amadou Ahidjo at the United Nations that if Southern Cameroonians voted to join La Republique du Cameroun, because of the differences in cultural evolution of the two parties, the terms would be the creation of a Federation of TWO states, equal in status, and a copy of the signed Agreement deposited at the UN Secretariat, that would have constituted a valid Union. I therefore respectfully agree that indeed, there has been no valid union between Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun. At best, the two parties are merely living in a state of political co-habitation and certainly not of political wedlock.
6. The very learned Professor Ondoua Magloire is reported to have stated that because La Republique du Cameroun was a sovereign state, it could not enter into a Treaty with Southern Cameroons which was not an independent state.
But all the UN requires in Art. 102 of the Charter is a written Agreement setting out the terms of union between the parties. As the learned Professor would readily concede, an individual in Cameroun can enter into an enforceable contract with the state of Cameroun. Southern Cameroons had a legally constituted ministerial Government as from 1st October, 1960. This was acknowledged by the UN in Res. 1608(XV) of 21 Apr 1961 mentioned in para. 4 above. The allegation that it was a question of “an elder brother opening his hands to admit a younger brother” is a modicum of fiction.
Southern Cameroons was a territory entitled to independence in its own right, by virtue of the Universal Declaration of Independence to all colonized or trust territories as per UN General Assembly Res. 1514 of 14 December 1960. This Resolution was completed the very next day by Res. 1541(XV) which introduced the concept of independence by joining - a power-sharing arrangement between a non-self-governing territory and a member state of the UN (as LRC then was). In that event, joining could only be either by Association or by Integration, and the Resolution states the terms of joining in either category. La Republique du Cameroun has failed even to respect the terms of this joining Resolution over a period exceeding half a century.
7. Professor Ondua Magloire is reported to have concluded that: “we should not celebrate 50 years of re-unification; rather we should celebrate 50 years of the birth of a state.”
In effect, the learned Professor is saying that the present state of La Republique du Cameroun was born on 1st Oct 1961 by the union of La Republique du Cameroun which gained independence on 1 Jan. 1960, with Southern Cameroons. He offers no explanation as to how this union was achieved, but his algebra makes no sense at all. How does he explain that to the sovereign state of La Republique du Cameroun which gained independence on 1 Jan 1960 (x), there was added the UN trust territory of Southern Cameroons (y) on 1st October 1961, and the sum total is still (x). Algebraically expressed, his equation is: x + y = x, meaning that y (representing Southern Cameroons) is or was not an entity.
8. What is even more worrying is that Alhadji Amadou Ahidjo, upon returning to his capital city after the abortive Foumban conference, summoned his parliament of La Republique du Cameroun in August 1961 to pass Law No. 24/61 which changed the name of his country to La Republique Federale du Cameroun, fixing the date of 1st Oct 1961 when that law was to come into force. That law was promulgated by him on 1 Sept 1961, at a time when Southern Cameroons was still a UN trust territory, firmly under British colonial administration and in no position to discuss its future, let alone participating in drawing up or approving a federal constitution with La Republique du Cameroun. This miracle performed by La Republique du Cameroun in constituting itself into a federation, without the collaborative union with another external entity, can only be likened to a person who appears before a Civil Status Registrar with the request that the Registrar should perform the ceremony of declaring the applicant as married to a non-person. The naming of Southern Cameroons as the state of West Cameroon in Law No. 24/61 is irrelevant, for Southern Cameroons was not a party to the Constitution that was being amended by the Parliament of La Republique du Cameroun.
9. The net result is that Great Britain, on the termination of its trust administration over Southern Cameroons at midnight on 30 Sept 1961, failed to hand over the Instruments of Power to the functional Southern Cameroons ministerial government, as it was required to do pursuant to UN General Assembly Res. 1514(XV), para. 5, but would appear, quite erroneously, to have surrendered power to La Republique du Cameroun. As pointed out earlier, the Federation into which both La Republique du Cameroun and independent Southern Cameroons were to form as equal partners was never formed. Pathetically, therefore, Southern Cameroons never attained independence, never legally joined La Republique du Cameroun which merely replaced Great Britain in exercising a colonial administration over the People of Southern Cameroons to this day. This embarrassing and humiliating situation has been perpetuated in circumstances where colonialism has long since been proscribed by the United Nations in Res. 1514(XV) of 14 Dec. 1960 in the following terms:
“(1). The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.
(2). All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
(3). Inadequacy of political economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.”
10. It would appear some very learned Cameroonians who have admitted that there has been no legal union between La Republique du Cameroun with Southern Cameroons lack the moral courage to advise the Government of La Republique du Cameroun appropriately, so as to protect their self-interests.
Despite the brotherly intentions the two parties viz. La Republique du Cameroun and the People of Southern Cameroons, should return to the drawing board and make every effort to strike a mutually acceptable Agreement, file a copy at the UN Secretariat pursuant to UN Charter Art. 102 and UN General Assembly Res. 1541(XV) but, if the centre can no longer hold, the parties should, peacefully, go their separate ways.
*Mola Njoh Litumbe,86,Senior Citizen,is Cameroon's Doyen of Chartered Accountants.He is currently Chairman of Liberal Democratic Alliance(LDA),a political party. But Mola Litumbe is known more as minority rights leader, championing the cause of the Independence of Southern Cameroons.