On October 10, 2002, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) granted the ownership of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon.[1] Following the ruling, both sides, Cameroon and Nigeria, have taken positive steps, most notably of which, is the Green Tree Agreement [GTA][2] aimed at the implementation of the ICJ Judgment. However, in the past nine months, there have been acts of violence against Cameroon officials in the area[3], court action by some in Nigeria to halt the August 14, 2008 hand over[4], Nigeria’s Senate declaration that the GTA is unconstitutional[5] and the pronouncement that the Nigerian military was not consulted.[6] Not surprisingly, these series of events have raised concerns and anxiety in the respective territories of both nations.

It would be simplistic to dismiss these series of events as meant for internal consumption in Nigerian. However, the consequences of some of these acts, whether intended or not, have gravely affected both Nigerians and Cameroonians. From an historic perspective, when the Northern Cameroons opted for integration with the Federation of Nigeria on June 1, 1961,[7]as a separate province of the Northern Region of Nigeria, families from both sides of the border were impacted, during the Biafra war from May 30, 1967 until January 15, 1970,[8] again families on both sides of the common boundary were also impacted. Today, the same can be said of the series of events involving Bakassi. Fortunately, the one constant has been the astuteness and appreciation of a fundamental and controlling fact by the leadership of both nations.[9] The symbiotic relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria transcends Bakassi and in the final analysis these series of events will not hinder the transfer of the administration of Bakassi to Cameroon on August 14, 2008.

The positions that the GTA is unconstitutional under the Nigerian Constitution; that the Nigerian military was not consulted prior to its ratification by former President Olusegun Obasanjo; or the application for a Nigerian court to void a judgment of the ICJ, are necessary and important expression of opinions in a democratic society. However, a casual examination, of the rationale advanced for each of these positions, suggests a general confusion in these quarters about the scope and purpose of the Green Tree Agreement.

Application by anyone to a Nigerian court to void a judgment of the ICJ, while an expression of freedom of speech, begs of intellectual dishonesty given the well settled principle of jurisprudence that a lower court cannot review a decision of a higher court. In fact, the lower court in this case, a Nigerian High Court, is bound by the decision of the higher court, the ICJ, recognized as such by the sovereign.[10] Similarly, the suggestion that “the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, presumptively did not consult the military before the cession of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon,”[11] should somehow invalidate a Judgment of the ICJ is misplaced and perplexing, irrespective of any security concerns.[12]

Former President Obasanjo did not relinquish Bakassi or caused a cession of any territory under Nigerian sovereign jurisdiction to Cameroon. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not true. When President Obasanjo signed the GTA on June 12, 2006, Bakassi was already internationally recognized as being an integral part of the sovereign territory of Cameroon.[13] Indeed, the GTA provides; “Nigeria recognizes the sovereignty of Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula in accordance with the [sic] judgment of the International Court of Justice of 10 October 2002 in the matter of land and maritime boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria. Cameroon and Nigeria recognize the land and maritime boundary between the two countries as delineated by the Court and commit themselves to continuing the process of implementation already begun.”[14] Consistent with the clear understanding of the parties, “No part of this [sic] GTA shall be interpreted as a renunciation by Cameroon of its sovereignty over any part of its territory.[15]

Thus, the GTA does not convey any land to Cameroon, but was rather intended to be a guide for the implementation of the judgment of the International Court of Justice of October 10, 2002. Specifically, “This Agreement shall in no way be construed as an interpretation or modification of the judgment of the International Court of Justice of 10 October 2002, for which the Agreement only sets out the modalities of implementation [emphasis added].[16] The GTA is not a treaty permitting cession of Bakassi by Nigeria to Cameroon, but an embodiment of the modalities by which the administration of the peninsula by Nigeria[17] would be transferred to Cameroon. The scope of the GTA is, therefore, analogous to an instructional mechanism for the consolidation of the de facto and de jure sovereignty of Cameroon over its own territory.[18] In this regard, Nigeria had accepted the ICJ's compulsory jurisdiction by a declaration dated 14 August 1965, deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 3 September 1965. Similarly, Cameroon had also accepted the Court's compulsory jurisdiction by a declaration deposited with the Secretary-General on 3 March 1994. The Secretary-General transmitted copies of the Cameroon Declaration to the Parties to the Statute eleven-and-a-half months later.[19] Thus, having accepted the ICJ compulsory jurisdiction, both parties are bound by the decision of the ICJ in this matter.

Since the GTA is not a treaty permitting cession of Bakassi by Nigeria to Cameroon, but rather an embodiment of the modalities by which the administration of the peninsula by Nigeria would be transferred to Cameroon, the question arises whether the GTA must be ratified by the Nigerian National Assembly to be constitutional and thus binding on Nigeria. We have already noted that the leaders of both countries had previously committed themselves and their countries to honor and abide by the ruling of the ICJ before that Court ever rendered its judgment. In addition, both parties are bound by their voluntary acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. Also in the introduction Section of the GTA, the parties [sic] “reaffirmed their willingness to peacefully implement the judgment of the International Court of Justice” and then proceeded to recognize the existence of the sovereignty of Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula before the adoption of the GTA on June 12, 2006.

Proponents of the constitutional argument fail to recognize the clear distinction between treaty making and implementation. In the context of treaty making or ratification, a country such as Nigeria acquiesces to be bound by a treaty.[20] The process invariably involves a transfer of a limited aspect or a limitation of supreme national sovereignty by the supreme collective sovereignty. Thus, when Cameroon and Nigeria ratified the treaty on the ICJ compulsory jurisdiction, they obligated their countries to honor and enforce the ICJ decision. Conversely, implementation of a treaty, sometimes referred to as domestication, may require legislative action when the performance of the obligations of the state entails alteration of existing domestic law.[21] In light of the nature of the GTA as an implementation document, what then is the legal effect of non domestication of the agreement by Nigeria? The simple response is that non domestication of the GTA by the Nigerian National Assembly would not relieve Nigeria of its clearly defined obligations under the judgment of the ICJ of October 2002 and similarly under the Green Tree Agreement.[22]

Nigeria, as a member of the United Nations and a party to the United Nations Charter and the Statute of the ICJ, is under the obligation “to comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice in any case to which it is a party.[23] In the event of non-compliance with the judgment of the ICJ by Nigeria, Cameroon may invoke the authority of the UN Security Council to impose appropriate sanctions.[24] However, given the critical importance of the historic and symbiotic relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria and considering that non of the arguments advanced to support the rejection of the transfer of administrative authority from Nigeria to Cameroon withstands a modicum of scrutiny[25], we are convinced that Nigeria will stand by its official position and hand over the administrative authority over the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon on August 14, 2008 as scheduled.

Simon W Tache

[1] Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria, ICJ Reports, 303 (2002)


[3] According to Cameroon's Army Chief of Staff, General Rene Claude Ze Meka, the DO of Kombo Abedimo was heading nine-man delegation on his maiden official visit to a fishing port in Kombo when tragedy struck “Cameroon: Bakassi Boils Again - DO, 5 Soldiers Shot”, The Post (Buea), 12 June 2008,; Nearly 30 Cameroon soldiers have been killed and more than five wounded by so called unknown attackers. See, for example,

[4] “Nigeria: Court Urged to Halt Handover of Bakassi”. 18 July 2008,

[5] “Nigerian Senate Rejects Bakassi Peninsular Hand-Over”, November 24, 2007,

[6] What bearing if any does the failure of a Head of State to consult the military brass have to do with implementation of a judgment of the ICJ? “Nigeria: War Imminent Over Bakassi - Defense Chief”, July 17, 2008,

[7] UN Resolution 1608 (XV) of April 21, 1961

[8] On May 30, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the South Eastern Region of Nigeria an independent state of Biafra with a capital at Enugu. The ensuing civil war, that lasted until January 15, 1970, caused nearly one million deaths; Hanbury, Prof H G (January 1967). "OE News - News from All Quarters". The Epsomian XCVII (1): 35. Retrieved on 2007-08-26. “Colonel C O Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Region, Nigeria was vigorously commended in The Daily Telegraph; "Biafra: Thirty years on," BBC. 13 January 2000. Thirty years later, Nigeria cannot find peace. Cameroonians must make every effort not to succumb to the same pitfall. [9] Even before the ICJ ruling, the leaders of Nigeria and Cameroon had already committed themselves on September 5, 2002 to abide by a decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on a border dispute between the two countries, and would restore friendly relations.
“CAMEROON-NIGERIA: Obasanjo, Biya to abide by ICJ border decision”, ABIDJAN, 6 September 2002,

[10] As the lawyer representing the Nigerian government, lawyer Abel Ezioko, correctly pointed out, “the High Court could not to sit as an appeal tribunal to the ICJ.”This court cannot upturn the judgment of the ICJ,” Nigeria: Cameroonian Deputy Governor Abducted in Bakassi, June 11, 2008,

[11] Ironically, he continued, “He said, "I am not sure that the military made any contribution to the Green Tree Agreement, but I know that the then Chief of Defense Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, traveled with the former President to New York when the agreement was signed." “Nigeria: War Imminent Over Bakassi - Defense Chief” Leadership (Abuja), 17 July 2008,

[12] This author can assure General Owoye Azazi, that the Nigerian military has been in consultation with regard to the Bakassi maritime boundary delineation since 1970.

[13] See Note 1.

[14] Article 1 of the GTA

[15] Article 4 of the GTA

[16] Article 7 of the GTA

[17] Annex I(3)(c) of the GTA directs Nigeria “ not engage in any activity in the Zone which would complicate or hinder the transfer of authority to Cameroon;”

[18] The presence of the Nigerian Administration on the peninsular did not and could not destroy the Cameroon sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsular. This fact was clearly recognized and validated by the ICJ.

[19] After examining the legislative history of the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the Court concluded “that the general rule reflected in Articles 16 and 24 of the Vienna Convention, which, the Court observes, may only be applied to declarations accepting the Court's jurisdiction as obligatory by analogy, is that: the deposit of instruments of ratification. acceptance, approval or accession to a treaty establishes the consent of a State to be bound by a treaty; and that the treaty enters into force as regards that State on the day of the deposit. Thus the rules adopted in this sphere by the Vienna Convention correspond to the solution adopted by the Court in the case concerning Right of Passage over Iizdirlir Territory,” ICJ/. Reports 1957, p. 146

[20] Article 1 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969.

[21] Contrast with [sic] the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;” Article II, section 2 of the Constitution for the United States of America,

[22] A party to a treaty “may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty,” Article 27 and a party to a treaty “may not invoke the fact that its consent to be bound by a treaty has been expressed in violation of a provision of its internal law regarding competence to conclude treaties as invalidating its consent unless that violation was manifest and concerned a rule of its internal law of fundamental importance”46 of Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

[23] Article 94(1) of the UN Charter and Article 59 of the Statute of the ICJ)

[24] Article 94(2) of the UN Charter.

[25] For an analysis in accord, see “BAKASSI: CRITICAL LOOK AT THE GREEN TREE AGREEMENT” by Professor Edwin Egede, PhD,


Poverty is a human created condition borne out of ignorance and greed. A condition[1] is characterized by circumstances affecting a particular state of being. In this context, the particular state of being is the material wellbeing of any person anywhere in the world. No individual is born materially poor or rich. We do recognize that some are born into environments susceptible to the poverty condition. However, even in some of these instances, some individuals have developed counter measures against this condition, while others, regrettably, accept the poverty condition as a part of their so-called fate. When this unfortunate acceptance (culture) of fate occurs, the individual is thrust into the poverty condition and the resulting deprivations.

We recognize that the condition known as poverty has been long standing and readily recognizable worldwide. However, since poverty is a human created condition, then it must follow that poverty is preventable, manageable and maybe can even be totally eradicated. Hence, various efforts are being made to confront this condition, but even so poverty seems to be on the rise[2] This conclusion brings us to a brief discussion of "Matter and Dalton's Law of Conservation of Mass and Definite or constant Proportion"

Matter is generally defined as "Physical substance, as distinct from mind, spirit and energy;[3] which occupies space and possesses mass in a state of rest." Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. From this observation, Dalton surmised the Law of Conservation of Mass and Definite or constant Proportion. In its basic formulation, "no detectable gain or loss in mass occurs in chemical reactions" even though the state of a substance may change in a chemical reaction as a result of energy transfer between atoms and their environment. Secondly, the elements in a given compound (matter) are always combined in the same proportion by mass. From these formulations, we agree with the conclusion that any combination of a ton of matter produces an equivalent ton of mass (solid, gas and liquid) because matter is indestructible. Since matter is indestructible, it follows that the level of worldwide sustainable resources cannot be completely exhausted. In effect, we may drill and harvest all of the crude oil in the world, but we cannot destroy the quantity of world oil reserve without converting it into other forms of matter. To be sure, we may reduce the volume of crude oil reserves, but we cannot destroy it because we have simply converted it to other forms of matter. ,

Symptoms as Justification

This same principle applies to the world's food supply. Not only is there enough food to feed the world's population, but the indestructible nature of matter means we have the capacity to cultivate, grow and supply enough food to feed every human on earth. Simply put, matter is self-generating and self-conserving. As such, the explanations given for the persistence of poverty address the symptoms and not the root cause of the condition.
There are two prevailing schools of thoughts in the efforts to address poverty. Proponents of absolute poverty maintain that a measure of the amount of money necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter provides the indices to solving poverty. On the other hand, advocates of the relative poverty see poverty in relation to the economic status of other members of the society. According to this school of thought, people are poor if they fall below prevailing standards of living in a given societal context. The problem with both approaches is that they are limited to or mostly concerned with what (income) and how much (consumption) and not the why of poverty.

An emerging trend is the so-called "concept of social exclusion." The rational here is an attempt to incorporate important social and cultural needs of an individual. The suggestion is that by incorporating three perspectives; (1) the income perspective, a person is poor only if his or her income is below the country's poverty line; (2) the basic needs perspective includes the need for the provision by a community of the basic social services necessary to prevent individuals from falling into poverty; and (3) the capability (or empowerment) perspective suggests that poverty signify a lack of some basic capability to function[4] as reasons for poverty, such as the roles of culture, power, social structure and other factors largely out of the control of the individual. Although the "concept of social exclusion" makes a concerted effort to explain some facet of the why of the condition poverty, it does so through proving or reliance on the negative.

This list of factors contribution to and reduction of worldwide poverty are fully documented and exhaustively explored elsewhere.[5] However, in this author's opinion, the factors, contentions or explanations are symptoms driven. For example, while it may be true that an increase in population exerts an increase demand for food, it does not follow that the increase population caused the hunger. The fact remains that most still have food while a few do not.

Real Causes of Poverty

Although we recognize the importance of incorporating the symptoms of poverty into mitigation strategies to alleviate the poverty condition, we submit that there are basically two fundamental causes of poverty; namely, ignorance and greed. A holistic conceptual view of ignorance and greed may be classified as internal/individual versus external/societal limitations. We know that hunger triggers the desire to eat food. That desire compels the individual to seek to acquire food either from their own farm or purchase from others. The ignorant individual may go without eating because he does not know how to farm or claims to have no money. In point of fact, he could have offered his labor to the farmer in exchange for a ration of food. Herein lies the importance of real education.

Of course, the individual in our example could have offered his services to the farmer for a food ration or pay or both. However, the farmer might have decided to give him less than agreed because of better market price offerings. Better yet, the farmer could control a significant majority of the farms and markets and thus decides to charge higher prices for the food products. This outcome is invariably, an artificially created caused by greed. Thus, any formulation of solutions to combat poverty, must necessarily include the containment or minimization of ignorance and greed.

Simon W Tache

[1] Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2d ed. 360, (2003)

[2] Smelser, N. J. and Baltes, P. B. (eds.) International Encyclopaedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Elsevier. Oxford Science Ltd. (2001)

[3] Supra, Note 1 at 1084

[4] Benjamin, Solomon (1993) Urban Productivity From the Grass Roots,

Third World Planning, 15(2) pp. 142 -157.

[5] Literature Review on Poverty Reduction Strategies Aimed at the Very Poor;



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