BAKASSI: Peninsula not in 26 districts plebiscite of southern Cameroun

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THE Milner/Simone Declaration which showed the partition of Cameroon between Britain and France was not the work of the League. The British and French powers partitioned Cameroons to their satisfaction before they presented it to the League for the Mandate Signature.

Prof. Walter Ofonagoro…Bakassi is in Nigeria

That Partition Boundary became the boundary between British and French Cameroons, as contained in the Declaration of July 10, 1919, which Milner and Simone signed. It had nothing to do with the old Anglo-German line of 1914.

American insistence on studying the terms of the Mandate Treaties delayed the signing of the Cameroons Mandates until July 20, 1922. The Americans had hoped that they could persuade their European Allies to abandon the quest for colonies, or for making secret deals among themselves against their enemies. They were wrong. The United States left the League in 1920, disappointed, and by 1922, refused to sign either the League Treaty, or the Treaty of Versailles. Russia, had made her own separate peace with Germany at Brest-Litovsk in 1918, and withdrew from European affairs, to face the challenges of the Bolshevik Revolution at home. So the Great powers left at the League were mainly Britain and France, from 1922. In 1923, a British Order-in-Council made permanent arrangements through which the various parts of the Mandate Territory, under her, were run. In Nigeria, Bakassi continued to remain under British rule.

Professor Gardinier of Yale University, further stated at the Yale University Conference, that Britain pursued different policies in different parts of her Cameroon Mandates.

(1) She never set up any administrative link between Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons.

(2) Northern Cameroons was fully integrated into Northern Nigeria, economically, administratively and in every other respect making it impossible to separate Northern Cameroon mandated territory from Northern Nigeria.

(3) With Southern Cameroon, it was different. Southern Cameroon was never integrated with Nigeria. It had its own separate Province, the “Cameroons Province” of Southern Nigeria, which eventually became the Southern Cameroons” Mandated Region in the Nigerian Federation from 1954, with its own legislature, parliament, and constitution by 1960.

(4) “The economy of Southern Cameroon was never integrated with Nigeria’s, but was linked directly with that of overseas nations, above all Germany’s.”

Significantly, Great Britain never integrated Bakassi either administratively or economically with Southern Cameroon, throughout the period, 1922-1960, and never included her in the 26 plebiscite districts of Southern Cameroon. In fact Bakassi was part of Nigeria at independence, her border on the Rio del Rey defining Nigeria’s Eastern border since April 14, 1893. This history of German Cameroon between 1914 and 1939 is completely omitted from the Cameroon Memorandum of Facts. Certainly, the League of Nations accepted the borders of Southern Cameroon, and Northern Cameroon as they were presented by Britain at the time of signing the League Mandate in 1922, and they were not the same as the Borders of German-Cameroon in 1914.

The Cameroon Memorandum of Facts also quoted the Nigerian law No. 126 of 1954, as evidence that Bakassi had been ceded to her. That is false. The law in question is the “Northern Region, Western Region, Eastern Region Boundaries (Definition) Order-in-Council, No. 126 of 1954”. It defines the boundary between Cameroon and the Eastern Region of Nigeria. In Schedule III, Part I and II, both territories have “the Sea” as their southern border. Some have ignorantly thought that “Sea” meant the point at which the boundary entered the Akwa Yafe River! But Akwa Yafe River was never the Sea boundary of Southern Nigeria. That issue had long been settled in the Anglo-German Agreement of April 14, 1893. It was, in fact, the first Boundary of Nigeria to be settled. The sea in this law, refers to that body of water on the shores of the Bakassi Peninsula, where the sea to land boundary of Nigeria and Cameroons goes ashore through the Rio del Rey eventually making its way to the Akwa Yafe River.

Creation of Southern

Cameroon Region, 1954

In 1953, the 13 members of the Eastern House of Assembly, representing Southern Cameroon, had requested Britain to give them their own Region. That was done in the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954, which saw Southern Cameroon excised from Eastern Region of Nigeria with a new 26 member legislature and new capital in Buea. Bakassi is separated physically from Southern Cameroon, by the Rio del Rey Creek, which has remained Nigeria’s border with Southern Cameroons till date.

The Rio Del Rey Port:  As a last act to confirm that the Treaty of August 11, 1913, was a dead Treaty, the British Colonial Government of Nigeria passed a law “The Rio Del Rey Port Declaration Order, 1960, L.N. 154 under Article 6 of the Ports Ordinance, 1954”. This port was established on September 29, 1960. The Port limits as established in that law are a reassertion that the Rio del Rey border was still the Eastern border of Nigeria, at its point of entry into the sea. In other words, “the Sea”, as the Southern border of Nigeria is the sea at Rio Del Rey. There is no sea at Akwa Yafe River where it flows into the Archibong Creek, which in turn flows into the Rio Del Rey to the East. Akwa Yafe is north of Bakassi Peninsula. The Sea is South of Bakassi Peninsula. The Akwa Yafe River reaches the sea through the Rio del Rey Creek.

In 1956, four years before Nigerian independence in 1960, oil was discovered at Oloibiri, in the Niger Delta. With known reserves in the Cross River/Bakassi Basin, there was no way the Colonial Government would establish a port there, two days before independence, and assign it a huge port limit of over 36 miles of Rio Del Rey Creek Bakassi Frontage, only to pass it on to French Cameroons. The Port was built on the exact coordinates of the Rio Del Rey Creek, to remind everyone that here was the international border. The Nigerian lawyers at the ICJ mentioned it at Paragraphs 10.107- 10.109 in their counter memorial, as evidence of “effective occupation”, and filed a text of the order at Annex NC.M 194, and Atlas Map 37; and were amazed that its limits occupied the entire length of the Nigerian side of the Rio Del Rey, from Cape Bakassi to the head waters of the Rio Del Rey. They were, however, unable to appreciate its evidential value! Please consider its evidential value!

The schedule to the Rio Del Rey Port Declaration Order read as follows:“that part of the mainstream of the Rio Del Rey otherwise known as Fiari River bounded in the North by a line drawn in an 0900-2700 direction in latitude 40 45’ North and in the South by a line drawn from Erong Point Beacon latitude 40 31’ 40” North 80 45’ 48”East in a 1800 direction for 16.8 miles thence in an 0900direction for 3.9miles thence in a 0040 direction for 15.7 miles to Cape Bakassi Beacon latitude 4030’30” North 8043’6” East.” (Reference: Nigerian Marine Charts: No: 33/10 and 84/10).  Now, compare these coordinates with Rio Del Rey Boundary Beacons as established in legal instrument No 260 Agreement of 29 April- 16 June, 1885, confirmed in No 263 of 1886, No 270 of July 1, 1890, and No. 273 of April 14, 1893:

With the Boundary, “entering the Sea between longitude 8042’ East and 80 46’ East”, the Rio Del Rey Port limits are a coded message. A rival power with whom Great Britain had fought two World Wars since 1913, could not expect to inherit from the British Crown, a Peninsula that unquestionably belonged to her loyal and faithful subjects who had been with her, throughout the colonial period. Calabar was one of the oldest British Protectorates and had had a resident British Consul since 1870. In fact in 1904, Calabar was declared a Port of Registry for British ships, a status which was upgraded by an Order-in-Council in 1913. The Old Consulate Building in Calabar is still a tourist attraction, and should qualify as a world heritage building, because it was from here that Britain conquered and colonized Southern Nigeria from 1884 to 1918. The Calabar Sea Roads could not be allowed to be turned into an international border, which is what neither the Germans nor the British wanted to do in 1913. In fact, the British Colonial Secretary, Sir Louis Harcourt, stated in Parliament on July 11, 1913, that the British Government would not cede any territory to Germany under the Treaties of 1913.

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