Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cameroon Government Has No Right to Sell Bakweri Ancestral Land --Mola Njoh Litumbe, BLCC Secretary-General

     The Bakweri Land Claims Committee (BLCC) cited the Government of Cameroon before the African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights in Banjul, The Gambia, concerning Cameroon Government intentions to privatize the Cameroons Development Corporation (CDC) whose plantations are grounded on Bakweri ancestral lands, so declared by the Governor-General of Nigeria before the advent of “re-unification."  These lands are fully inscribed in the German Cameroon land registers known as the Grundbuch.
     The Cameroon Land Tenure Act of 1974, signed by Ahmadou Ahidjo as President of Cameroon Republic classifies all lands inscribed in the German Grundbuch as "private property." That is the reason why Mission lands and those of some families in Victoria area which were inscribed in the Grundbuch are to this day privately owned.

    When the matter came up before the African Commission, plaintiff BLCC, represented by their counsel, Distinguished Law Professor  Ndiva Kofele-Kale, Esq. informed the African Commission of plaintiffs' claim of large-scale alienation of the disputed land, held in trust by the CDC, and over which ultimate title belongs to the Bakweri, whose lands were originally seized without compensation by an imperial German Government.  By letter Ref. ACHPR/COMM/3 dated 22nd May 2003, from the Chairman of the Commission to H.E. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, a restraining Order was issued to the respondent Cameroon Government in the following terms:

   "This matter has been registered as Communication 260/02 - Bakweri Land Claims Committee/Cameroon, and the Commission is seriously concerned about the situation since should the alleged alienation proceed, irreparable damage could be caused to the complainants. In accordance with Rule 111(3) of the Rules of procedure of the Commission, I would respectfully like to appeal to Your Excellency to ensure that no further alienation takes place before the African Commission takes a decision on the complaint. I assure Your Excellency that this matter will be attended to expeditiously."

    Letter Ref.ACHPR/COMM/260/02/1123/13 dated 11 October 2013 from the Secretary to the Commission to Mola Njoh Litumbe, BLCC Secretary-General, states:

"I write to acknowledge receipt of your emails sent to us on 11 and 12 September 2013 together with their attachments.

"The secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Secretariat) will table your application  before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Commission) for consideration, after which you will be informed of the Commission's decision."
    It is obvious from the foregoing that the matter before the Commission is still pending, while private Bakweri ancestral lands are being brutally violated, in complete disregard of the African Commission's plea to President Paul Biya of Cameroon. 

   BLCC takes the position that neither the Cameroon Government nor the CDC has a right to sell or alienate Bakweri ancestral communal land over which they have no title of ownership, in circumstances in which following a complaint by the Bakweri to the United Nations in 1946, the British Government stated in writing that title of the land has reverted to the Bakweri, but the land would be managed by the CDC on lease until such time that the Bakweri could manage their property themselves. 
That time has since arrived and the Cameroon Government and the CDC as trustees cannot exercise ownership rights over property they hold on trust for the Bakweri.

    NB:The above write-up is a reaction by Mola Njoh Litumbe,BLCC Secretary-General  to this publication Cameroon President Alerted about Land Surrender in Fako & Its Reckless and Illegal Sale.