The InternationaL Court of Justice, Bakassi, The Nationality Question and the open of wound of International Justice 0

When the nationality question was raised at the ICJ during the hearing of the Cameroon v Nigeria case Cameroun and Nigeria as well as the Court dodged the question. Cameroon in particular pleaded with the court not to defer a decision on the matter to allow the matter to be settled through bilateral negotiations. The Court made a note of this plea in its judgment and left a potentially explosive matter unresolved.

The failure to resolve this issue left the so-called Bakassi judgment inconclusive deferring the most important matter that emerged during the case unresolved. There exists therefore a reasonable ground to believe that the supposed peace and closure that the ICJ judgment purported to bring was but the peace of the loaded gun as the news report forwarded with this comment and many others attest.

 The question arises, therefore, why did Nigeria which proposed a referendum to resolve this matter and Cameroun which opposed the referendum shy from allowing the ICJ to resolve this component of the case even when they would reasonably have anticipated that the nationality issue is one of the most explosive in international relations and international law? The answer may be hidden in the little talked about interpleader which Fon Gorgi Dinka filed on behalf of Ambazonia which was duly acknowledged but no further action taken on it during the trial.

The legal and/or technical grounds on the basis of which the interpleader would have been entertained or rejected were never seriously considered during trial by the parties. The interpleader therefore remained part of the court records in the case. If anything, the interpleader was reasonable notice to the parties in the case that Ambazonia was laying claims not just to the resources in Bakassi but also to the population residing in Bakassi.

Considering the state of agitation of the people of Bakassi during the case and thereafter, and their threats at one moment to declare independence; their commitment to Ambazonia nationality, Cameroon and Nigeria found the matter so explosive to allow the court to take a decision on. That is why the court deferred to a negotiated settlement which has not and will never take place as long as the wider issue, the Ambazonia question is not comprehensively resolved. This matter therefore is another sore of international justice left unaddressed.

By Chief Charles A.Taku