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Truly, There Is No Document On Reunification 


CameroonPostline.com — Legal luminary, Barrister Ekontang Elad has corroborated Hon. Paul Ayah in the argument that there was no proper legal document on reunification of Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroon. The learned Barrister also comments on the arrest and detention of some former high State officials on charges of corruption and embezzlement, in an interview granted Patrick Sianne and Mildred Anayeh (Bambui Polytechnic Journalism Student On Internship), last week.

Patrick Sianne: Is there any legal document defining the reunification between Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroon?
Barrister Ekontang Elad: The answer to that question must be in the negative. Now, this presupposes that before the act of reunification or unification – whatever you call it – the parties had come to a contractual relationship defining the terms of the union. There is no such document. However, after reunification, a series of legislations and decrees have been passed. For instance, the decree extending the law, that is, the constitution of East Cameroon to West Cameroon, with a few modifications. This was a unilateral law – a unilateral decision made by one party, the party of East Cameroon, to extend its influence over West Cameroon. The answer to that question is that, there is neither law nor document.    

Barrister Ekontang Elad: Founding father of the SCNC

Dr. Susungi, one other great mind in the Anglophone community says that, foreseeing the plebiscite and eventual option of reunification, Foncha went to Yaounde to sign a document with Ahidjo and the then East Cameroonian statesman, Charles Assale, one time Prime Minister; and that could stand for the legal instrument of reunification.
 Hmmm, Dr Susungi is a very good friend of mine. When I led the SCNC (Southern Cameroons National Council) delegation to the United Nations; he kindly hosted us in his apartment in London. At that time, I’m sure he believed there was no such document.

What could have motivated a man who is your friend, as you call him, who was thinking in one way suddenly do a flip?
I will not want to know what could make him do a flip-flop. There is a saying in law that ‘a man’s mind is as good as his digestion.’ I cannot tell what made him change his mind. You see, in this struggle for reunification, people have taken different angles, some for personal reasons, some because of convictions, some because they have joined a political party and have seen their growth and fulfillment of their objectives in belonging to a larger nation of Cameroon. But I’m convinced and I’m yet to be proven wrong that there is no document that can be called a binding treaty, between two separate entities saying that, the terms of unification will be this and that. 

And from that conclusion, you, as a very learned man, well versed Anglophone in Cameroon and then President Biya is coming here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that unification after leaving through it for 50 years. What will you advise as the attitude of the average Anglophone sufferer in this arrangement?
I have proposed in the number of interviews I have given that it’s a good thing that President Biya is thinking of reunification. This is the time to get him to appreciate the fact that there was no binding document created; perhaps this is the time to sit down on the table and say here what should be the proper terms of reunification. Actually, what took place, as I had earlier said, is that Ahidjo and his parliament extended the constitution of La Republique to cover West Cameroon, and that was it. There was a constitution in West Cameroon which had certain stipulations of how the federation was going to be like. There were supposed to be no-go areas, the non-negotiable. There were specific institutions of this side of the Mungo like our local parliament and our legal system and our customary court set up that were not going to be touched, but all these were abridged in 1972. So, my plea will be that we get to meet President Paul Biya and say; Mr. President, history cannot be forgotten and lets right the nation’s mistakes. If we try to build a country on the flimsy thought that there was proper reunification, we are making a mistake, and tomorrow posterity will judge us and the country may fracture into bits because, there is no binding document.

On that idea of posterity, we can see barons of parties and the leaders of this country – octogenarians – not wanting to go away; Ni John Fru Ndi, President Biya, Bello Bouba Ndam Njoya and so on. It’s like there is no need for a generational shift in this country. As a Cameroonian, what will you advise a young nation like this with young people not having a clear vision as to what is happening, particularly on this ground of passing on the mantle to the youth?

That is an extremely good and very important question. There is no guarantee that a generational shift will put us on the right track. If the leaders of the SDF feel strong enough to continue, if the leaders of the CPDM feel that the nation still needs them, perhaps they can continue, but there is a line I’ll like to take from Tennyson; the No good thing lasts forever remark. It is correct that after a term, one appreciates that he may have out-lived his youthful days and let some other people take over and continue the struggle towards helping our country become an emergent country.

There is this one issue that Cameroonians, almost on daily basis, are cogitating or, at least, voicing their concern. This Marafa/Inoni matter, what is your reading if we may share yours?
You know this a very sensitive subject, a matter that is very subjudice; that is under the law, investigated by the law. Perhaps it is best to leave it to the law to take its course. But there is something absolutely that high officials of the State, people who have held high offices, touched government secrets and know how this country has been functioning, should be brought down and humiliated in the way these people have been. I know and I admit that there is and there should be equality before the law. However, I think that, before bringing them down to this level, there should have been certainty that the crimes they are being tried of, they committed them, and perhaps, there should have also been a State security court where people who have handled government secrets could be tried and convicted if they have committed crimes or set free. But the summary way, people who have held high office have been brought to account for the deeds they have committed is, in my mind, so much fortunate, because it shows that even those who are there, yes, they have a duty to be accountable, but who knows? Tomorrow, a new President may come and he may want to try them.       

I can see that feeling being somewhere with the common law, Hebeas Corpus background?
(Laughter) Yes, if Hebeas Corpus, which is supposed to be in our constitution… if these people are held illegally, applications can be made for them, their bodies to be reproduced and then, set free even though the idea of Hebeas Corpus has recently been introduced and made national, not all of us in the country are aware and appreciate its significance. Moreover, in these particular trials, there is the element that, people who have been arrested and detained have committed crimes or are answerable to crimes they may have committed. And my understanding now is that, they have been interrogated and perhaps they are being quarantined for their own good and I can see that an application for Hebeas Corpus may not be the appropriate remedy at this time because they are being investigated.

And then Marafa releases a letter with a sitting minister under heavy charges and accusations…?
I have read those letters but, you see, these are accusations and counter accusations. One would have liked to know why it is that those letters are coming only now. When he was a minister, perhaps the meaning of those letters would have been more credible. I am not saying that what he has written is not correct. But you see, it is a mark of trying to look for a defense…. because certain things have happened. One would have hoped that this documentation he has produced would have been produced before now. I remember Minister Garga Haman. He did present a document that he found fraud in about 56 cases and he left the Government. But this is not the case we have now with the Honourable Minister or the Ex-Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, but it all just goes to show the unfortunate system we are in.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01356

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