Dec 21, 2007

Southern Cameroons: Reality Recognised

The judge in the case of the arrested Southern Cameroons National Council members has thrown the case out, citing lack of evidence, whilst simultaneously expressing recognition of the real political situation.

The judge in the case against Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) Vice-Chairman Nfor Ngala Nfor, and other SCNC members arrested at a press conference on 20 January 2007, has thrown the case out of court, citing lack of evidence.

The defendants were charged with ‘secessionist’ activities, but the prosecution failed to produce sufficient evidence that such actions took place.

In an important development, the judge recognised the historic reality of Southern Cameroons, and acknowledge their separate political identity as a former British Mandate, as opposed to the rest of Cameroon, which was under French administration. This recognition is significant, as it provides stable ground for dialogue between Southern Cameroons and the central Cameroonian government on addressing the situation. For years, the Anglophone Southern Cameroons has been suppressed by Francophone authorities, with inhabitants of the region harassed, beaten, and treated as second class citizens.

This is a summary of his verdict:

1. declares Southern Cameroons is a historical reality.

2. recognises Southern Cameroonians, who gathered to listen to Nfor Ngala Nfor report to them on his three months diplomatic offensives, as a people, that is a political and legal entity, certainly with collective interests and rights to defend.

3. notes that the charge of secession can only hold when the territorial integrity of a country is infringed upon. And the country the learned Judge was representing and whose interest he had to defend, is la Republique du Cameroun. He declares la Republique's territorial integrity, whatsoever, suffered no infringement by the action of the accused.

4. affirms and upholds the meaning of secession as defined in BLACK's Dictionary, that is, " a process or act of withdrawing especially from a political association."

Whilst the judge’s ruling was warmly welcomed by the SCNC, it has to be noted that no formal apology was given for the conduct of the case, which saw countless delays, adjournments and cancelled sessions.