The following was found on one of the Ambazonian social media fora. It is a long read but provides reassuring legal expertise regarding often discussed legal righteousness of the Ambazonian Liberation Struggle. Ambazonians need to read it for their education, which ever route they choose thereafter. Ambazonia exists and an internationally recognisable geographical area and qualifies as a state. Acknowledgement of the effort of others in compiling this work goes without saying … It is not claimed as the work of this poster!
Francis Ngwa put the questions to Chief Barrister Taku Charles, Read on from archives:
Q What are the legal basis for the complaints of English-speaking people in Cameroon? Do they need a federal state or an independent country to resolve the problem?
A: In answer to your question, permit me to correct one misconception implicit in it. There is no such thing as “English speaking people in Cameroon”. I presume your question is directed at the legal basis for the restoration of the Sovereignty of the Southern Cameroons- Ambazonia over her territory.
With that caveat, permit me to state clearly that it is not contested that Southern Cameroons is a state recognized as such in International Law. The Southern Cameroons fulfilled the legal criteria of Statehood spelt out in the 1932 Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States.
Article 1 of the said Convention states:
“The State as a person of International Law should possess the following qualifications:
a) a permanent population.
b) A defined territory.
d) Capacity to enter into relations with other states.
That the Southern Cameroons possessed these qualifications is no longer subject of reasonable controversy, regard had to be made to the fact that the UN through its Resolutions affirmed her exercise of the right of self-determination through a well-conceived procedure with full UN participation, that was to commence with a UN organized Plebiscite and ending with an Internationally recognized union treaty with La Republique du Cameroun.
That process, we all know, was aborted and so no treaty worthy of recognition and enforcement pursuant to articles 102 and 103 of the UN Charter exists between Southern Cameroons and La Republique Du Cameroon.
It is therefore futile for anyone to invoke alleged historical or political arguments to justify the existence of any union between the two, without first ascertaining whether the UN-laid down basis for the existence of a legally binding treaty was executed or faithfully implemented pursuant to the Charter responsibilities of the all the parties involved.
In conflating the notions of Sovereignty and that of Statehood to justify its annexation of the Southern Cameroons-Ambazonia, La Republique Du Cameroun is oblivious of the fact that Southern Cameroons as a Legal Order, prior to the annexation of her territory, had her own executive and legislative organs, conducted foreign relations through her own organs, had her own system of courts and legal system, had her own nationality laws, and above all had her own constitution.
Her loss of the decision making over these matters due to the overbearing foreign control through military, economic and political blackmail and downright colonial criminality do not affect her statehood status in International Law. Similarly, Iraqi exercise of sovereignty over Kuwait, American exercise of sovereignty over Iraq, Allied exercise of sovereignty over Germany after the Second World War or Soviet exercise of Sovereignty over the Soviet Republics did not ipso jure lead to a loss of the statehood of the occupied states in International Law.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights only recently reaffirmed that Southern Cameroons constitute a people recognized as such under the Charter. That can only be construed within the context of the distinctive statehood of Southern Cameroons since the constitutive tribes of La Republique do not have any of the qualifying attributes of a state defined in the Montevideo Convention.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that had La Republique du Cameroun as an occupying force not invoked the status of Southern Cameroons in International Law as well as the treaties that defined her International Boundaries, and all other acts that accord with the Montevideo Convention, the case she initiated against Nigeria would have been dismissed as a matter of law and fact.
To this extent, the exercise of sovereignty over that case, culminating in the Greentree agreement in which both Nigeria and La Republique undertook to withdraw their forces to their respective boundaries at Independence as the leadership of Ambazonia has correctly argued, is but a logical conclusion of an exercise of sovereignty which an occupying power merely undertook for the benefit of the State of Southern Cameroons- Ambazonia as their pleading and evidence tendered at trial reasonably suggests. In this regard, there is no other reasonable conclusion or inference to draw from the totality of the proceedings and its outcome. To that end, therefore, the continuous occupation of the territory of the Southern Cameroons by La Republique Du Cameroun is manifestly illegal, untenable and unacceptable.
Coming to the next arm of your question whether Southern Cameroons need a federation or independence to resolve the problem, I will defer in part to the preceding answer. I wish however to emphasize that the Southern Cameroons overwhelmingly voted for independence in a UN supervised plebiscite in 1961 and was required thereafter to exercise her right of self-determination by negotiating and defining with UN and British Government’s participation of a union treaty with La Republique du Cameroun.
Note must be taken of the fact that the British Government’s participation was in respect of her UN Charter obligation and not in any other capacity. To the extent that the said Charter responsibility was never affected and has never occurred, there is no union between La Republique Du Cameroun and Southern Cameroons.
Assuming for the purpose of argument only, one were to say that Southern Cameroons was never independent as the spokesman of La Republique Isa Tchiroma stated lately, that conflation of the notion of independence and Statehood would reasonably be construed as ignorance of the state of international law on the subject.
Ian Bronwlie and Jose’ E. Alvarez, Leading authorities on International Law have stated that it is inappropriate to confuse independence as an aspect of statehood, because several factors may explain a loss of independence and / or sovereignty which may not necessarily lead to a loss of statehood. Brownlie emphasizes that “a common source of confusion lies in the fact that “sovereignty may be used to describe the condition where a state has not exercised its own privileges, and immunities in respect of other states. In this sense, a state which has consented to another state managing its foreign relations, or which has granted extensive extra-territorial rights to another state, is not “sovereign”. If this or similar content is given to “sovereignty”, and the same ideogram is used as a criterion of statehood, then the incidents of statehood and legal personality are once again confused with their existence”.
For the above reason, it is submitted that neither the statehood nor the independence of the Southern Cameroons are in question. What is at stake is the exercise of sovereignty that both confer on the State of Southern Cameroons. It is this stolen sovereignty that we are on course to recovering. That in essence is what we call the Southern Cameroons problem.
With the suggestion that a federation may solve the problem, I may venture to state that the suggestion has been overtaken by events. These are evident in the acts and conduct of La Republique Du Cameroun that rendered the fulfillment of UN Charter responsibility on the Southern Cameroons problem impossible.
First, the UN Resolutions required that the exercise of the rights of self-determination of the people of Southern Cameroons be inviolable and sacrosanct. Neither Foncha nor Ahidjo nor any other person however so called could alienate those rights upon himself.
In addition to the none fulfillment of the UN Charter responsibilities by the UN and Great Britain as stated above, all acts undertaken by these individuals or who so ever at Foumban where a purported Federal Constitution was allegedly conceived adopted and promulgated by Ahidjo without the sanction of the Southerns Cameroons through her House of Assembly or by referendum was null and void ab initio and without an legal effect whatsoever.
Even if the Federal Constitution that came out of that process was legitimate, the subsequent violation of article 47 of the said constitution that rendered any amendment that impaired the federal character of the Republic null and void rendered the alleged union the constitution purported to create void ab initio.
Besides, that constitution was not and could not be the union treaty contemplated by the UN Resolutions on Southern Cameroons because in promulgating the said Constitution into law, Ahmadou Ahidjo did not draw inspiration from the UN Resolution on Southern Cameroons, or the Plebiscite of 11 February 1961. He simply did so through an amendment of and adaptation to the Constitution of a “reunified La Republique Du Cameroun” of 4 March 1960 through Law No. 61-24 of 1 September 1961.
It is therefore in error for anyone to hold that that amendment of the Constitution of La Republique Du Cameroun by Law No. 61-24 of 1 September 1961 even before the Independence of the Southern Cameroons on 1 October 1961 created a valid and subsisting union contemplated by the UN for the purpose of its charter obligations. That law was rather the very basis of annexation and colonization of the Southern Cameroons which all peace-loving people of the world must condemn vehemently.
It was therefore in perpetuation of this illegality that La Republique Du Cameroun in 1972 organized a purported referendum to create a unitary state, in violation of article 47 of its own amended constitution, a so-called Federal Constitution.
These illegalities and criminal annexation and colonization have invariably been denounced by Prominent Southern Cameroonians led by HRM Fon Gorgi Dinka, Professor Carlson Anyangwe, Albert Womah Mukong and a plethora of others listed by an eminent Camerounian Scholar Pierre Fabien Nkot in his seminal book “Usage Politiques du Droit En Afrique: Le Cas Du Cameroun”.pg35-40.
In recognition of the illegalities denounced vehemently and persistently by many led by Fon Dinka in particular for and on behalf of the severely repressed revolting masses of the Southern Cameroons-Ambazonia and cognizant of the gravity of the consequences of the crimes of annexation and colonization, the President of La Republique Du Cameroun, Paul Biya, in 1984, enacted a law reverting the Republique du Cameroun to its legal personality at Independence, and with it, its internationally recognized boundaries, its state symbols and re-emphasized this fact as Dinka has rightly stated in the Greentree agreement with Nigeria.
La Republique Du Cameroun was offered an opportunity to get into a valid, Federation with the Southern Cameroons at the AAC1, reiterated at the AACII and she declined. In so declining, she exercised an act of sovereignty which Southern Cameroons was mandated in law to respect and did respect. La Republique is similarly obligated to respect International Law and her UN Charter obligations by vacating the territory of Southern Cameroons-Ambazonia forthwith.
According to Pierre Fabien Nkot, (pg 40) Paul Biya has boasted that he was ready to organize a referendum to show the world that only a minority of Southern Cameroons was agitating to regain her sovereignty. The African Commission ordered that dialogue should be held under its auspices to resolve the Southern Cameroons problem. I encourage President Biya to bring this suggestion to the negotiating table which if accepted could be an alternative to violence and needless loss of life and limb.
For me, and a majority of Southern Cameroonians, anything other than a regain of sovereignty in conformity with international law is simply unacceptable. The contrary will give tacit blessings to impunity and crimes against the peace for which the UN and the civilized world are firmly opposed.
AMBAZONIA_MUST_BE_FREE K.A 💙
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