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NIGERIA-CAMEROON DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS IN POST BAKASSI PENINSULA DISPUTE 2006-2016
This work is on Post Bakassi peninsula Dispute between 2006-2016. The game theory and realist theory was used as a framework of analysis. Data were derived from secondary sources and content analysis based on logical deduction and analysis of documents was adopted. The study found out that Cameroon-Nigeria Political And Diplomatic Relations has not being hampered following ICJ rule, the dominant causes of the conflict include geographical and constitutional positions; colonial-legal sources, demographic, politico-strategic and economic issues. It further reveals that the Court resolutions on the conflict in favour of the Republic of Cameroun was informed by the colonial-legal sources, as such, it provoked reactions from various segments of the Nigerian public including Bakassi indigenous population, their paramount ruler, the Cross River State Youths Assembly and Nigerian Senate. But with the mediation of UN/Secretary General between the two countries’ presidents, Bakassi territory was officially handed over to the Camerounian Government. Hence, Cameroun-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC) was established to finalized border demarcation between the two countries. Therefore, the study recommended among others that to further strengthening Nigeria-Cameroun relations: Both countries governments should desist from neglecting border areas, but encourage infrastructural developments, effectively occupying of border areas to avoid future incursions; Both countries governments should strictly abide by all diplomatic notes and agreements they have or will exchange between each other now and in future; Be committed to Organization of African Unity (OAU) declaration, which stipulates that independent African countries were bound to respect inherited colonial borders; that as both countries have recognized unprofitable nature of armed conflict and ceased fire, CNMC should be a permanent structure where problems arising from the management of the disputed areas be debated and resolved. However, the paper concluded that both countries should take advantage of conflict resolution to explore possible areas of cross-border collaboration and described peaceful conflict resolution by both countries, a model for all nationals fighting over conflicting interest(s).
Background to the Study
The conflict between Nigeria and Cameroun over Bakassi peninsula, which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) adjudicated, has eventually ceased, particularly the deployment of military forces by both countries. There is no doubt that the conflict over the ownership of the Peninsula, an international boundary between Nigeria and her neigbour, Cameroun, created a worrisome and confrontational demonstration of military vigor which almost break the diplomatic relations for both country Hence, the conflict, while it lasted, attracted the attention of the international community as its escalation would have also threatened the lives and properties of Nigerians and Camerounians as well as the global peace and security. Beseng (2009:5) describes the situation that:
as the political wrangling over the right ownership of the Bakassi peninsula continued, military tension was building up along opposite borders of peninsula. From May 1981 to November 2007, there were different instances of severe military confrontations between Cameroun and Nigeria in and around the peninsula. After one of such confrontations in February 1994 that resulted in severe causalities and loss of life on both sides…the Camerounian government got tired and took legal action 29th March, 1994 by filing a law suit against Nigeria in International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a sanction for the expulsion of Nigerian force, which they said were occupying the territory and to restrain Nigeria from laying claim to sovereignty over the peninsula.
The International Court of Justice, on 10th October, 2002 ruled, after considering both parties claims, that the sovereignty over the disputed Bakassi peninsula rest under the jurisdiction of Cameroun and called for the immediate withdrawal of both countries’ military presence in and at both side of the peninsula. The Judgment did not automatically end the conflict. Rather, it triggered several protests and reactions from the various segments of the Nigerian public. Mbaga and Njo (2009:8) confirmed that:
on a monthly basis since the ICJ judgment was pronounced, rocket propelled grenades, bullets, ambushes, reactions and counter reactions remain the only resort in an atmosphere of mistrust created by both country’s common desire to benefit from the wealth accruing from natural resources in the area.
As tense and severe as the confrontations, protests, reactions and counter reactions that emanated before and after the ICJ judgment were, it is interesting to know that the tension created by the hostilities that kept reoccurring between the two countries did not degenerate into real war, thanks to the diplomatic/strategic efforts by the United Nations (UN), particularly its erstwhile Secretary General, Kofi Anta Annan who convinced both countries’ Presidents - Olusegun Obasanjo and Paul Biya to dialogue. The outcome of the dialogue was the establishment, during a meeting held in Paris on the 15th September, 2002, of the Cameroun-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC) as a mechanism for the implementation of the ICJ judgment to facilitate a smooth handover (Beseng, 2009:6). Nsom and Sumelong (2009:1) affirmed accordingly, that despite pockets of resistance by unidentified militant groups, the international community, and the initial rejection of the judgment by the Nigerian Senate, complete handover of the Bakassi peninsula to the Camerounian Government on 14th August 2008 held peacefully. The handover was indeed a moment of celebration for the Camerounians because the country legally took ownership of the resource-rich peninsula. On
the contrary, it was a moment of dissatisfaction and agony for Nigerians, particularly the indigenes of Bakassi who claimed to have ancestral ties to the ceded area. However, it does appear that the causes of the conflict between Nigeria and Cameroun over the sovereignty of Bakassi peninsula are multi-dimensional in nature, transcending socio-economic and political considerations. Against this background, this paper examines the dominant causes of boundary conflict between Nigeria and Cameroun, with particular reference to the Bakassi peninsula.
Statement of Problem
The Nigerian-Cameroon border conflict gained international dimension and prominence in March 24, 1994 following a law suit filed by Cameroonian government in the International Court of Justice in Hague against the Nigerian government. The suit sought an injunction for the expulsion of Nigerian force, which they claimed were occupying the territory and to restrain Nigeria from establishing to sovereignty over Peninsula (Tariebbea and Baroni, 2010). The 1913 Anglo-German agreement shifted the Peninsula from its original position in Nigeria in favor of Cameroon. This was indeed, supported by the 1975 “Maroon Declaration” between the Heads of state, General Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria and Ahmadu Ahidjo of Cameroon in which Gowon allegedly gave out the territory to Cameroon (Olumide, 2002)
Various steps taken by successive Nigerian leaders to retain Bakassi as part of Nigerian federation proved abortive. This was indeed, to climax in the ICJ ruling in October 10, 2002, which placed Bakassi under the ownership of Cameroon. By this judgment, sovereignty over Bakassi was transferred to the Republic of Cameroon. The judgment was overwhelmingly condemned by the mass of the Nigerian people.
The swift and unilateral action that was taken by the Obasanjo civilian administration in aiding the outright ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon had indeed, generated mixed feelings in Nigeria pertaining to the rationale behind the ICJ judgment.
Scholars such as Asobie (2003), Baye (2010), Anene (2005), Nweke (1982), Ngan (2010), Fombo (2006), Rose and Sama (2006), Eke (2009), among others, have written extensively on the Nigerian-Cameroon border conflict and its management. However, none of these scholars has critically examined the Nigeria –Cameroon diplomatic relations after ceding away of the disputed Bakassi territotry to Cameroon by the Obasanjo civilian administration. It is however, this noticeable and existing lacuna in the extant literature that this research work is aimed at filling using the under listed research questions as a guide
To achieve the above objectives, this study provides answers to the following questions:
i. How does Cameroon-Nigeria Political And Diplomatic Relations looks like between 2006-2016?
- What are the dominant causes of the Bakassi peninsula conflict?
- How did the International Court of Justice (ICJ) resolve the conflict?
- What are the reactions from various segments of the Nigerian public?
- What important roles did the mediator play in the management and implementation of the Court decision?
Objectives of The Study
The general objective of the study is to appraise the Nigeria-Cameroon Diplomatic Relations In Post Bakassi peninsula Dispute 2006-2016
Nevertheless, the study has the following specific objectives:
i. To investigate Cameroon-Nigeria Political And Diplomatic Relations between 2006-2016
- To find out the dominant causes of the Bakassi peninsula conflict;
- To explain how the International Court of Justice (ICJ) resolved the conflict;
- To explore the reactions from various segments of the Nigerian public;
- To examine the important role of the international mediator in the management and the implementation of the Court decisions on the matter;
Significance of the study
This study will serve as a reference material or data for scholars whose interest would eventually be aroused by the findings to undertake further studies on the area.
Practically, this study will be of immense importance to the Nigerian government and law makers at various levels, international observers, and indeed, other relevant bodies interested in the issues pertaining to the Nigerian-Cameroon border dispute. And as such, will provide valuable data/information that will assist them to articulate potent policies that will help to address the issue and also maintain their bilateral relations.