Molyko, Southwest Region - Buea, Cameroon


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This work was based on Nigerian-Cameroon diplomatic relations in post-Bakassi peninsula era. One of the major findings indicated that conflict between Nigeria and Cameroon was a boundary and territorial dispute – the Bakassi Peninsula being the most contested. Attempts were made in the past to resolve the dispute through bilateral negotiations, but in 1981, and again in 1993, 1994 and 1996, the dispute nearly escalated to a war. Between 1994 and 2002, the matter was before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. A judgment was pronounced in 2002 by the ICJ on the matter and the Nigerian government issued a statement rejecting the verdict of the International Court. Yet following negotiations between the two countries, facilitated by the UN and crowned by the June 2006 Green-tree Agreement in New York and subsequent instruments, Nigeria completed the withdrawal of its military, administration and police from the Bakassi Peninsula in August 2008. This has been described as a remarkable outcome in conflict resolution in Africa. One of the major recommendations was that both countries should ensure development especially around the Bakasi area



1.1 Background to the Study

Phenomenon causing boundary or territorial disputes in modern States are usually difficult to explain though the factors inhibiting boundary disputes or proffering settlement of same exist with a view to achieve harmonious interstate border relations and world peace. Boundary politics are the inherent issues in boundary dispute and territorial claims which affects the assertion of territorial integrity or sovereignty of any nation and the approaches to settlement of such crises. This can be linked to Robert Mandel (1980) observation that interstate disputes may occur with or without reference to border disputes and that border disputes may occur as a result of border clashes without contention over border demarcations or as a result of conflicts over jurisdictions and control of off-shore islands which are not land boundaries (Mandel 1980)

 Ajala (1983:177) described international boundary as a wall or a partition between the peoples on opposite sides, an artificial (man-made) with boundary lines that partitions the people to restricts their movement and trade relations across frontiers and to impact on their cross-border nationalities and payment of customs duties. Three processes identified for drawing boundary lines are: Allocation (political division of a territory), Delimitation (selection of a specific boundary site for data purposes) and Demarcation (marking of the boundary on the ground through placement of pillars and beacons, fences and cutting of vista across forest). Adejuyigbe (1989:31-35) considered the characteristics of borderland and African borderlands and concluded that they consist of the following summarised features: Location (distance of border to the Capital and how Government machineries function in relation to borderland areas and her population), Interaction Patterns (Interstates relations on cross border issues and interactions among neighbouring population in borderlands, the existing restrictions, political identities of individuals and communities, potential conflicts and fighting over territorial boundaries and the strategic importance to the borderland, role of the military, citizens loyalty and exercise of sovereign rights) and Transitional Features (nature of borderland with respect to her role as territorial, cultural and economic zone for regional integration, stability or conflicts)

Existing works on international boundary conflicts by Garnham (1976a), Starr and Most (1976: 584-585) shows how geographical proximity of states, interstate interactions and perceived threats results to interstate disputes, conflict and war, though Richardson (1960) concluded that interstate wars are largely facilitated by boundary disputes. Lord Curzon (1907:7) asserted that boundaries are the razor edge on which hang suspended the modern issues of war or peace, of life or death to nations, since the protection of the home is the most vital care of the private citizen, so is the integrity of borders a condition for the existence of modern state. Hence, it is clear that boundaries have significant considerations on the political, economic and social development and existence of the modern state. Butterworth (1976:488) refers to border or boundary dispute as territorial claims over demarcation of a territorial boundary between two bordering states or a land area between their borders of questionable ownership while Ajomo (1989:39) agreed that Border disputes may be territorial or boundary claim existing between a state and the neighbour based on the challenge of territorial allocation requiring adjustment and arising from historical, geographical, ethnic or cultural, economic, military or strategic reasons. Vittorio Asami (1927:3) adopted a legal perspective to boundary claims and dispute by stating thus: ‘the state frontier is that line which marks the limits of the region within which the State can exercise its own sovereign right’. From all indications, his definition speaks volume on the extent of sovereignty among nations and how boundary politics play a role in the assertion of territorial integrity of a nation, though Jackson and Rosberg (1987:519) on the other hand adopted sociological approaches by stating that border dispute in Africa is an expression of 20th century anti-colonial ideology of self-determination. Foltz (1991) noted that the weak elites in the African State engages in border conflicts to minimise external threats to their rule, while Kornprobst (2002:369-393) asserted that ‘Border disputes are a common feature of African politics’, though each region manages the conflict in different ways. Lloyd (1962:4, 28, 259) in his analysis of Yoruba Land Law and the issues of land boundary disputes, held that Africans love land dispute, because it reaffirms family or town loyalties. He noted that boundary disputes usually involve a large number of people while land cases between neighbouring towns occupy political attention and issues of local administration. He observed that boundary disputes ordinarily do not extend to dispute of each other’s status outside disputed area or the right held therein, but on the location of the boundary which is in question. He concluded that land disputes rarely occur among descent groups because when land become scarce, men move ahead to seek land elsewhere.

 Herbst (1989) studied the causes of conflict in international boundaries and laid greater emphasis on demographic and ethnographic structure of the continent as a pointer to border disputes. Herbst perspective correlated with positions of Lloyd on the nature of African traditional boundaries and the cause of disputes which engenders the historical value-fact that the existence and or claims to traditional boundaries in pre-colonial era could facilitate post-colonial border conflicts in Africa. Robert Mandel (1980) drew an extensive survey material for the study of international boundary disputes and adopted specific independent variables to measure causes of border disputes. This consist of the effect of the power disparity between adjacent states, the levels of technology of these states, the type of disagreement involved, the international alignments of these states and the size of each set of mutually contiguous states. He identified the dependent variables to measure interstate boundary disputes as the relative frequency of border disputes – a scale indication of how often they occur, the severity of these disputes – including the level of fatalities and size of military operations involved and the scope of these disputes – the degree of third-party intervention. Though, his methodology may not be applicable to all situations. Boundary politics therefore brings to fore, the utility and definition of conflict (dispute and crises) enunciated by Kunle Ajayi (2007) as an interactional behaviour and her relational outcome while corroborating with the views of Nnoli (2003) that conflicts are the contradictions arising from perceptions, behaviours, phenomena and tendencies. Settlement of Boundary dispute in the context of conflict management initiated by Markus Kornprobst (2002:373) is the resolution, mitigation or prevention of escalation of conflict i.e., the propensity of one party or several parties to hurt, damage, destroy or frustrate another party or other parties.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The relationship between the Nigerian and Cameroonian communities who live along the border areas has been relatively cordial. The inhabitants on both sides of the divide inter-marry, perform some social functions together and generally regard themselves as brothers and sisters. As a matter of fact, some of these communities have cultural link with one another and speak the same language. Even though skirmishes do occur from time to time, the traditional rulers have a way of resolving such disputes without any recourse of government machinery. Usually, they call a joint meeting and sometimes visit the disputed area in spite of the fact that they belong to different countries. They in some cases seem to recognised the boundary lines and jealously protect it. For the two authorities that govern these countries, the boundary of these countries has never been properly defined on the ground. In many parts, demarcation was carried out by the colonial European administrators, whose arrangement were often ad-hoc in nature. This is so because the colonial powers were trying to reduce cost and time, demarcation and survey exercises followed natural features such as mountain peaks, hill tops, and rivers wherever these existed. In cases where Rivers like the ones who have branches were used, it is often difficult to say which of their branches were meant in the agreements. Naturally, each contending Authority chose the branch that is most favourable to it. In addition, some of the rivers and streams have been changing their course since the 1950s whilst in some cases the boundary alignment relies on vague directions like “South and South West” or on roads or marshy areas or guest houses or villages which are difficult to find or in most cases no longer existing. These lapses of the colonial government played a disharmonious, important part in the controversies that began what is today known as the Bakassi Crisis after 1961. Despites the Green Tree Acord, communities around Bakassi still experienced hostility with neighboring communities in Nigeria it is due to this that the research is out to assess the diplomatic relation between Cameroon and Nigeria after the post Bakassi disputes

1.3 Research Questions

1.3.1. Main Research Question

What is the diplomatic relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria after the Bakassi disputes?

1.3.2. Specific Research Questions

  • What are the implications of the Bakassi conflict settlement between Cameroon and Nigeria for sustainable peace and economic development?

  • To what extent have the bakassi dispute affected the diplomatic relations between Cameroon and Nigeria?

  • What are the measure put in place by both governments to enhance their diplomatic relations?

1.4 Research Objectives of the Study

1.4.1. Main Research Objective

  • To investigate the diplomatic relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria after the Bakassi disputes

1.4.2. Specific Research Objectives

  • To evaluate the implications of the Bakassi conflict settlement between Cameroon and Nigeria for sustainable peace and economic development.
  • To examine extent to which the bakassi dispute has affected the diplomatic relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria
  • To evaluate the measure put in place by both governments to enhance their diplomatic relations




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