Rhapsody, n., a piece of music written without a formal structure that expresses powerful
feelings and emotional excitement. (Cambridge English Dictionary) O, how good are the people pushing the “no to ICJ” narrative at stirring up powerful feelings and emotional excitement!
On 15 February Channel 7 revealed that the “Belize Peace Movement” circulated a video of a
woman claiming to be a Nigerian and who is friendly with a BPM member, delivering a
rehearsed “statement to the people of Belize”. She laments the fact that Nigeria went to the ICJ
to resolve a territorial dispute with neighbouring Cameroon, and the Court decided to take away
the Bakassi Peninsula from Nigeria and give it to Cameroon.
She warns Belizeans of the danger of submitting the Guatemalan claim to Belize to the ICJ,
suggesting that just as Nigeria lost its land, Belize will lose hers.
The fact is, however, that the Bakassi Peninsula was never a part of Nigeria, but of Cameroon.
That puts the “Belize Peace Movement” posting of that video in a totally different light, because
they know what we are about to reveal here. They know the truth.
The Bare Facts of the Case
In the late 19th century, several European powers undertook a “scramble for Africa,” competing
with each other to colonize parts of it. The countries that later became Nigeria and Cameroon
were carved up between Germany, Britain and France.
Britain had Nigeria. Since before 1800, and through wars and treaties throughout the 19th and
into the 20th century, Britain controlled several parts of Africa that it later consolidated into the
Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1914. Nigeria gained independence from the United
Kingdom on 1 October 1960.
Cameroon became a German colony in 1884 known as Kamerun. After Germany lost World War
I, the territory was divided between France and the United Kingdom as League of Nations
mandates.In 1960, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent as the
Republic of Cameroun. The British part of Cameroon was divided in two parts. In a referendum
in 1961, the northern part became part of Nigeria, but the southern part opted to join the
Republic of Cameroon.
The Actual Judgment of the ICJ
The ICJ found that “Bakassi was necessarily comprised within the [British] mandate . . .[and] for
the entire period from 1922 until 1961 (when the Trusteeship was terminated), Bakassi was
comprised within British Cameroon. The boundary between Bakassi and Nigeria,
notwithstanding the administrative arrangements, remained an international boundary”.
“Equally, the Court observes that it has seen no evidence that Nigeria thought that upon
independence it was acquiring Bakassi . . The Court notes in particular that there was nothing
which might have led Nigeria to believe that the plebiscite which took place in the Southern
Cameroons in 1961 under United Nations supervision did not include Bakassi. The Court further
observes that this frontier line was acknowledged in turn by Nigeria when it voted in favour of
General Assembly resolution 1608 (XV), which both terminated the Trusteeship and approved
the results of the plebiscite”.
Referring to maritime delimitation discussions between both countries in the late 1970s, the
Court found that“it is clear from the ensuing discussions and agreements that the Parties took it
as a given that Bakassi belonged to Cameroon. Nigeria, drawing on the full weight of its experts
as well as its most senior political figures, understood Bakassi to be under Cameroon
“Accordingly, the Court finds that at that time Nigeria accepted that it was bound by Articles
XVIII to XXII of the Anglo-German Agreement of 11 March 1913, and that it recognized
Cameroonian sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula . . . The Court accordingly concludes that
the boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria in Bakassi is delimited by Articles XVIII to XX of
the Anglo-German Agreement of 11 March 1913, and that sovereignty over the peninsula lies
That surely is crystal clear, and the only honest parallels that can be drawn with the Belize-
Guatemala case is that Belize is in the position that Cameroon was in, and is sure to win the case
based on treaties, and that Guatemala, like Nigeria, knows it has recognized Belizean sovereignty
over our land, like Nigeria had recognized Cameroonian sovereignty over Bakassi, but,
perversely, simply insists on making false claims for “patriotic” reasons.
And What is More . . .
There were 17 judges who presided over the matter at the World Court. Apart from the 15 sitting
judges, each country appointed an ad hoc judge (one appointed by a party to the case to represent
that country in that case alone). Nigeria appointed its own Prince Bola Ajibola, who had in fact
been a regular Judge of the Court from 1991 to 1994.
Years later, he commented on the case. [See the Nigerian magazine PUNCH, 29 October 2016,
online at https://punchng.com/ceding-bakassi-cameroon-saved-nigeria-major-war-ajibolaformer-
Nigerian Judge Ajibola:“All the documents and evidence before the court were all pointing to
the ownership of that place as being part of Cameroon . . . “It is all nonsense to say that Nigeria
lost to Cameroon. What did Nigeria lose to Cameroon? According to the Latin phrase, ‘Nemodat
quod non habet,’ meaning you cannot lose what you don’t have. Bakassi was never yours,” he
told his Nigerian interviewer.
The Nigerian government at first said it would refuse to obey the judgment, but the UN stepped
in, UN Secretary General Kofi Anan held talks with the parties, and in 2008 Nigeriaformally
accepted that the Republic of Cameroon had sovereignty over Bakassi.
Will the BPM Please Explain
All that you have read about the Nigeria v Cameroon case above is known to the members of the
BPM, one of whose members shared a post admitting that Nigeria lost because of a treaty. The
case is clearly important for showing how Belize is sure to win, and, even more, that Guatemala,
like Nigeria, will be obliged to obey the ruling of the Court and recognize that the entire Belizean
territory is under the sovereignty of Belize.
So why is it purposely putting the case upside down and asking Belizeans to draw the exactly
opposite conclusion, that we will lose territory at the ICJ? Will the person(s) deliberately
perpetuating this deceit please stand up?