by Musa Bello; ENDS
On 30th May 1967, after months of tensions in Nigeria, a separatist group dominated by (one of the country’s three major ethnicities based primarily in the eastern region), declared its secession from the state of Nigeria and established the independent Republic of Biafra. The refusal of the Nigerian government to recognize Biafra’s independence marked the beginning of a civil war that would last until January 1970. Despite global criticism of the suffering endured by the Biafran people, only a handful of states in the developing world, including Tanzania, Gabon, the Ivory Coast, Zambia and Haiti, offered formal recognition to Biafra. Most Western states chose to adopt a neutral stance, believing that resolution of the conflict was the responsibility of Nigeria’s former colonial ruler (Britain).
FRANCE stood apart, declaring its support for Biafran self-determination in a communiqué given by Joel Le Theule, the French Secretary of State for Information, on 31 July 1968. Paris’ position towards Biafra was confirmed a little over a month later when, on 9 September, French President Charles de Gaulle, announced publically that FRANCE was assisting Biafra and was not discounting future diplomatic recognition of the break-away state. From this point on FRANCE gave the Biafrans moral and diplomatic support and was accused of aiding them with the supply of arms, flown in via Libreville (Gabon) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
The British government was frustrated by FRANCE’s involvement in one of its former colonies. The conflict thus created tension in Anglo-French relations already troubled by Charles de Gaulle’s rejection of Britain’s application for membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1963 and 1967, as well as by disagreements over transatlantic relations, Cold War alliances, Rhodesia and the Concorde Project. In this context, British politicians questioned the FRENCH government’s motives for supporting Biafra in an attempt to understand and decide how to respond to FRENCH policy in Nigeria during the civil strife.
France’s support for Biafra are mostly found in contemporary journalistic narratives of the war, by authors including Suzanne Cronjé, Auberon Waugh and John De St. Jorre, or historical accounts such as John Stremlau’s ‘The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War’. FRENCH policy in Nigeria is otherwise also briefly referenced in general historical accounts of FRENCH policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. However these studies (for example by Anton Andereggen, Robert Bourgi, Francis McNamara and Claude Wauthier) tend to concentrate on FRANCE’s relations with its former African colonial dependencies, a pre-occupation that has meant FRENCH involvement in non-Francophone Africa, in this case, Nigeria has been neglected.
This is with the exception of two contemporary articles published in 1979 and 1980 that do concentrate on FRENCH policy during the Nigerian Civil War. Daniel Bach’s ‘Le Général de Gaulle et la Guerre Civile au Nigeria’ analyses the nature and motivations behind Charles de Gaulle’s decision to support Biafra in the Nigerian Civil War, and is the most comprehensive analysis of FRANCE’s support for the Biafran separatists currently available. Kirsty Melville’s ‘The Involvement of FRANCE and Francophone Africa in the Nigerian Civil War’ in turn is based primarily on the contemporary journalistic accounts of the war discussed above, and consequently offers few new high-political insights on FRANCE’s role in the Nigerian Civil War.
Apart from the occasional reference to British discontent with FRENCH policy, none of the historiography on the Nigerian Civil War discussed above has examined in detail British reactions to FRANCE’s involvement in the war, a perspective that is particularly illuminating given Britain’s imperial history in Nigeria. On the basis of British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) documents, as well as records of British Parliamentary Debates and memoirs of British politicians involved in Nigerian and FRENCH affairs.
THE ISSUE OF BAKASSI PENINSULA
There is historical antecedent to the present Nigeria-Cameroon crisis over Bakassi. In 1913, Britain and France demarcated the 1,056-mile border between Nigeria and Cameroon from Lake Chad (Borno/Adamawa axis) in the north to the Gulf of Guinea (Cross River) in the south. This colonial exercise in arbitrary African boundary demarcation did not satisfy the territorial aspirations of Nigeria and Cameroon, consequently, there were and have been incidents or border skirmishes between Nigeria and Cameroon. Between 1913 and 1960 Nigeria could not pay proper attention to Bakassi issue because it was still in most of those years, under the British-colonial rule.
In 1960 Nigeria achieved political independence from the British. Between 1960 and 1980 there was political instability in Nigeria.
Because of the unstable political condition in Nigeria at that time, Cameroon seized the opportunity to intensify its territorial claims over Bakassi by aggression in violation of international law. The U.N. Charter in Article 2 paragraph 3 and 4 stipulates that, “all members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice, are not endangered.” In paragraph 4, it states, “…all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations.”
In response to Cameroon aggression against Nigeria at Bakassi, General Abacha’s government in 1994 ordered Nigerian troops into Bakassi to repel Cameroon’s aggression and restore peace and stability in Bakassi. Nigeria’s action was in consonance with international law as expressed in the U.N. Charter, Chapter VII, Article 51, which states that, “nothing in the present charter (of U.N.) shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member state or the United Nations.” Nigeria’s action was in self-defense against Cameroon’s armed aggression. From the above brief historical analysis, it is quite evident that Bakassi Peninsula has been a disputed territory between Nigeria and Cameroon.
THE UNITED NATION ACTION ON BAKASSI
Inter-state border disputes are normally arbitrated through sub-regionally or regionally mechanisms for arbitration. The disputes can be resolved by states who are involved in such disputes themselves. When a solution to such inter-state border disputes cannot be effected at the sub-regional, regional or bilaterally among the states that are party to the dispute, it is often referred to U.N. General Assembly by one of the aggrieved states in the dispute.
The dispute can also be introduced at the U.N. General Assembly session by another state or group of states that are not party to the dispute, but are members of the United Nations. The dispute must be serious enough as to warrant the U.N. General Assembly deliberation. But the Nigeria-Cameroon territorial dispute over Bakassi Peninsula has never been on the same international political radar of the U.N. as several of the still lingering volatile territorial dispute within the international system. In fact, the U.N. General Assembly has never considered the Nigeria-Cameroon conflict serious enough as to warrant the urgent need for solution.
The Security Council which is the most important component of the U. N. structure has the power under Chapter VII, Article 39, of the U.N. Charter to determine what action among states constitutes a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression,” against any state, or decide what measures to be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42 to maintain or restore international peace and security.
The Security Council in carrying out its responsibility under Article 39 of the Charter have never condemned Nigeria for armed aggression against any state nor considered the issue of Nigeria and Cameroon territorial dispute over Bakassi. The U.N. Security Council has never convened any of its several irregular emergency meetings in New York over Bakassi nor determined that Nigeria-Bakassi issue constitute a threat to international peace and security, consequently needing appropriate actions under Articles 41 and 42 of the U.N. Charter.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) Decision in 2002
In 2002 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) sitting at The Hague in Switzerland, ruled that Bakassi Peninsula belongs to Cameroon. Based on the ICJ’s decision, the United Nations gave Nigeria a timetable, which appears to be an ultimatum to transfer the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, before the end of July 2006. How did the Bakassi issue get to the ICJ?
Why did Nigeria-Cameroon sidetrack or ignore other arbitration mechanisms in sequential order before going to the ICJ? Granting that Cameroon which is the weaker party in the dispute initiated the decision to put the issue before ICJ for arbitration; why did Nigeria comply? Was Nigeria under pressure from Cameroon and the international community to take the issue to ICJ for arbitration? Is any nation obligated to bring disputes before the ICJ? Is the ICJ’s decision binding on a nation state, especially if such a decision adversely affects a state’s core national interests?
The International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision and its effect
The International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision has no binding effect on a sovereign state, except if the state is willing to accept such a decision. Why is this so? A state is a territorial entity controlled by a government and inhabited by a population. A state government answers to no higher authority; it exercises sovereignty over its territory (to make laws, to collect taxes, etc). A state sovereignty is recognized or acknowledged by other states through diplomatic relations and ultimately by membership in the U.N. Since a state does not answer to higher authority, but pursue its national interests as paramount objectives, there is a tendency for the international system to evolve into anarchy. This could be the case, because there are too many states pursuing diverse national interests.
To prevent anarchy, states cooperate with one another through established institutions and rules in the international system. Philosophers such as Emmanuel Kant argued that it was natural for autonomous individuals or states to cooperate for mutual benefit because pursuing their individual interests too narrowly would end up jeopardizing their overall interests. Kant proposed a world federation that would respect each member’s autonomy and not create a world government.
The U.N. is not a world government that can legislate laws governing sovereign member states; similarly, the International Court of Justice is not the same as domestic courts. FRANCE has hands in these issue, No doubt.
THE ISSUE OF OIL BUNKERY
According to security reports, a French ship that sails under the name, M.T ST Vanessa is involved in massive illegal bunkering that costs the county about 22.5 billion naira per week. The reports based on confessions of the arrested crew members and security officials who have been monitoring its movement added that the ship, with a capacity of 15,000 tons (about 300,000 barrels) of crude enters into the country territory to load a full capacity cargo twice in a day. The ship, it was said, loads a super
tanker ship that always berth on the high seas off the country’s coast with a capacity to bunker about 75,000 tons (1.5 million barrels) of crude oil. The super-bunkering ship inter-changes with another ship of similar capacity and discharge their cargoes twice weekly to ships off the coasts of BENIN-Cotonou and TOGO-Lome, thus costing the country a whopping amount. The ship, in her last voyage arrived the Brass loading terminal on June 9, 2012 and having been involved in loading the super tanker until Thursday night when it was intercepted on her second trip to the high sea to deliver its cargo to its secondary conduits. TOGO and BENIN Republic are French colonies and as such FRANCE uses such axis for oil theft.
FRENCH MEDIA PUBLICISTS PROMOTE THE MANY BOKO HARAM IMPOSTERS
The usual suspects, the FRENCH media has continued to promote the all various versions and impersonators of late Abubakar Shekau. It has become very glaring that FRANCE has hands in the issue of insurgency in Nigeria, else how do the videos all get to their media exclusively? And why was it translated in FRENCH?
The international media and most especially FRENCH Government and its media is suspiciously aiding these Boko Haram terrorists and working hard to fool and undermine the Nigerian people.
Boko Haram agenda and communications are gladly broadcast by the FRENCH media to its followers to assist the terror sect in its operations. It can be compared that when a recent video was handed to The Mail UK, the Daily Mail unlike the FRENCH media sent a copy to the Nigerian Presidency for security utility and till date never publicized the Boko Haram video message about the abducted girls that it received. This is media sense and professionalism done by The Mail UK, as never done by FRENCH media.
FRANCE has been struggling to gain control over the crude oil in Nigeria since July 1968. With vast investment in Nigeria, French companies are mainly active in Nigeria’s oil and gas, automobile and construction industries. Well known names include Total, LaFarge and Peugeot and CFAO amongst a host of others.
FRANCE is a Saboteur and causing Espionage to our nation from day one, we should all join hands to protect our lives, future of our kids, properties and our military against inversion, threat to national security as one people. Those facts gathered, readers can peruse and get references between the lines.