Common Law lawyers bitterly remember the Charter of the UN, which aimed to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the Southern Cameroons as a trust territory, and its progress towards independence.
According to the lawyers, the present State of Cameroon has no authority to administer the former Southern Cameroons.
Under the League of Nations, Britain and France had signed and published a Declaration determining the boundaries separating the colony administered by Germany, which had been defeated in World War I. In fact, Britain and France had just divided German Kamerun between them as war booty. By signing that Declaration, the two countries had thus determined the boundaries between what would become known as British Southern Cameroons and French Cameroun.
“On January 9, 1931, the Franco-British Treaty Boundary properly defined the present Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon to be administered under British mandate and the other eight Regions of Cameroun went under French mandate,” the lawyers state in their most recent Declaration drafted in Buea. After World War II, precisely on December 13, 1946, the General Assembly of the United Nations and the United Kingdom signed a Trusteeship Agreement for the territory of the Cameroons under British Administration.
A decade and half later, on December 14, 1960, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 1514(XV) on the Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples. Paragraph 5 of the Resolution declared that “immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desires, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them enjoy complete independence and freedom”.
With regard to Resolution 1514(XV), UN Resolution 1349(XIII) of 13 March 1959 granted La Republique du Cameroun independence on January 1, 1960 with a well-defined map, currency, language, anthem and flag. Article 1 of the Constitution of La Republique du Cameroun of 04/03/1960 and which was endorsed by the then Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Dag, provided that the flag would bear three colours; green, red and yellow without a star in the red colour.
Thereafter, UN Resolution 1476(XV) of September 20, 1960, admitted La Republique du Cameroun as a member state of the UN. By dint of this admission, La Republique du Cameroun had subjected herself to the strict respect of the Charter of the UNO and all its resolutions.
Ironically, rather than exploit the same token of Resolution 1514(XV), the UN elected draft Resolution 1352(XIV) of 16 October 1959, which instead recommended a plebiscite be held between 30 September 1960 and March 1961 in the then British Southern Cameroons.
The purpose of the plebiscite was to prepare the populations of the then Southern Cameroons to vote on the 11 February 1961 to achieve independence by joining the already independent La Republique du Cameroun.
On April 21, 1961, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 1608(XV) on the future of the Trust Territory of the British Southern Cameroons, and one of the resolutions in paragraphs 4 and 5 reads thus; [The UN General Assembly] “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 October 1, 1961, the arrangements by which the agreed and declared policies of the parties concerned will be implemented”.
But without much ado, late President Amadou Ahidjo sidestepped the UN Resolution 1608 and went further to disregard the provisions of Article 102 of the Charter of the UNO at the failed Foumban Conference. Thereafter, it was a rough ride for Anglophones.
Sting of Discrimination
More than 50 years after, Anglophone Cameroonians feel the sting of discrimination in subtle ways. Anti-Anglophone State activity in the form of marginalisation, harassment, violence, intimidation and erosion of the inherited Anglophone culture continue to occur across the nation.
For instance, while the State of Cameroon readily snaps up young and old Francophones for employment and promotions, ascent to the upper ranks of administration or management for Anglophone is rare. Now, Anglophone Common Law lawyers fear a complete eradication of their juridico-cultural system. “Our juridico-cultural system has experienced a mischievously programmed, and sustained erosion to the present point of near extinction,” say the lawyers in a declaration drafted after a recent conference attended by over 600 Common Law lawyers in Buea.
The lawyers say “this predicament arises unequivocally, from the non-implementation of United Nations Resolution 1608 (XV) of the 21/4/1961 on the future of the Trust Territory of the Cameroons under the United Kingdom’s Administration and the dishonest manipulation of Southern/West Cameroonians into an illegal Union…”
According to the lawyers, they have hit the wall and they are going to fight tooth and nail to protect the juridico-cultural system.
“We commit ourselves resolutely to seek by every legal means a correction of the source of endangerment of our Common law juridico-legal cultural heritage through invocation and strict implementation of United Nations resolution 1608 (XV),” the lawyers state in their declaration.
In this vein, they call on Her Majesty the Queen of United Kingdom and the Secretary General of the United Nations to proceed with overseeing the implementation of Resolution 1608(XV). Amongst others, the lawyers cite and quote an exchange between the UK Ambassador, C.E King, and President Ahmadou Ahidjo, which rubbished and totally violated the Trusteeship Agreement and the Charter of the United Nations.
Quote the lawyers, “With a mere exchange of notes between Her Majesty’s Ambassador at Yaounde, C.E. King, and Mr. Ahmadou Ahidjo, recording the time and date of the termination of United Kingdom trusteeship in the Southern Cameroons, the 13/12/1946 Trusteeship Agreement was terminated…” The said exchange of notes read thus:
British Embassy, YAOUNDE 27 September 1961
Sir, On the instruction of my Government and in compliance with resolution 1608(XV) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, dated 21 April 1961, providing that the trusteeship exercised by the United Kingdom in the Southern Cameroons under the Trusteeship Agreement of 13 December 1946 shall be terminated on 1 October 1961 upon the Southern Cameroons joining the Republic of Cameroun, I have the honour to inform you that this trusteeship will cease to be exercised in the Southern Cameroons at midnight on 30 September 1961, as this Territory will join the Republic of Cameroun at 00.00 hours on 1 October 1961. I have the honour to be, etc. (Signed) C.E KING Her Majesty’s Ambassador
His Excellency, Mr. Ahmadou AHIDJO, President of the Republic of Cameroun, Yaounde
REPUBLIC OF CAMEROUN Yaounde 27 September 1961 The President of the Republic Sir, I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of today’s date in which you informed me as follows; “On the instruction of my Government and in compliance with resolution 1608(XV) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, dated 21 April 1961, providing that the trusteeship exercised by the United Kingdom in the Southern Cameroons under the Trusteeship Agreement of 13 December 1946 shall be terminated on 1 October 1961 upon the Southern Cameroons joining the Republic of Cameroun, I have the honour to inform you that this trusteeship will cease to be exercised in the Southern Cameroons at midnight on 30 September 1961, as this Territory will join the Republic of Cameroun at 00.00 hours on 1 October 1961”. I note that, in accordance with the aforesaid resolution, the Southern Cameroons will join the Republic of Cameroun on 1 October 1961 and that, in consequence, the United Kingdom trusteeship over this territory will cease to be exercised at midnight on 30 September 1961. I have the honour to be, etc. (signed) A. AHIDJO
By these notes, the British Southern Cameroons had been thrown to the wolves. This and other hostile happenings have caused the Common Law lawyers to forward their declaration to the powers that be with the following conclusion; “La Republique du Cameroun therefore has no legal justification to administer the former Southern Cameroons. We shall be most grateful if you can cause your hierarchy to take appropriate measures to enforce the Buea Declaration referred to herein, a copy of which is hereto attached.”