The Nigerian States Formed Parts of Northern Cameroons
By Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi
The United Nations Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons 1884-1961 are they Nigerian Citizens by Birth or Not?
It is a herculean task to locate the UN Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons because they are administratively scattered in the three States of the Federation of Nigeria.
These States are Adamawa,Borno and Taraba States.
In Adamawa State we have about 12 LGAs comprising:
1. Fufore (part of)
2. Ganye LGA
3. Hong LGA (part of)
4. Jada LGA
5. Madagali LGA
6. Maiha LGA
7. Mayo Belwa LGA (part of)
8. Michika LGA
9. Mubi North LGA
10. Mubi South LGA
11. Song LGA (part of)
12. Toungo LGA
In Borno we have about five (5 ) Local Government Areas as follows:
1. Bama LGA
2. Dikwa LGA
3. Gutunga LGA
4. Gwoza LGA
5. Kala/ Balge LGA
In Taraba state we have about 7 Local Government Areas as follows:
1. Ardo kola LGA (part of)
2. Bali LGA (part of it)
3. Gashaka LGA
4. Kurmi LGA
5. Sardauna LGA
6. Takum LGA (part of it)
7. Yorro LGA (part of)
The Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons covers the area of about 83,831 sq. Km of land. Based on the 2006 National Population Census, the population of the Northern Cameroon Trust Territory is estimated at over 4,500,000 (using the 2.8% population growth rate for Nigeria) it became part of the Federation of Nigeria on 1st June, 1961 that is 8months after Nigeria became independent.
During the balkanization of Africa in 1884 the area known as the Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons was ceded to Germany. German colonial conquest and administration of the kamerun territory of which the United Nations Trust Territory was part of, was brief from 1885- 1916. Germany lost the territory at the end of the First World War which ended in 1918. The German troops were defeated in the kamerun territory in 1916 by a combined force of the French and the Britain. On the strength of Articles 19 of the Treaty of peace signed in 1919 between Germany and the principal Allies and Associated powers, Germany renounced in favor of the principal Allies and Associated powers, all her rights over her overseas possession, including the German Northern and southern Cameroons. Under the covenant of the council of league of Nations made in 1920, the territory was mandated to the British Government and Northern Ireland for Administration on behalf of the league of Nations in 1922. The kamerun territory was partitioned between the British and the French under the supervision of the league of Nations.
The second World War 1938-1945 ended with the replacement of the league of Nations by the United Nations Organization. The mandate system of the league of Nations was replaced by the Trusteeship system of the United Nations Organization in 1946. Not to overstretch its resources, for administrative convenience, the British by the order in council of 2nd August, 1946 (not a UN Resolution), had the UN Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons administered from, but not joined legally to, the Northern Region of Nigerian protectorate.
Soon after the second World War, the wave of Nationalism that heralded the African continent did not leave the United Nations Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons out .
As a result of the great efforts of its Nationalist it went through two separate plebiscite in 1959 and 1961 to determine the kind of Independence it needed .
The first plebiscite held on 7th November, 1959 resulted in the people of the territory rejecting a union for Independence with the Federation of Nigeria. Between 7th November,1959 and 1st June, 1961, the territory had a regional quasi- Government headed by Sir, Percy WynHaris as Governor, with its Regional Capital at Mubi in present day Adamawa State.
Every effort was made by the Federation of Nigeria (particularly the Northern Nigeria Regional Government led by Sir, Ahmadu Bello ) to convince the people of the territory to Change their 1959 referendum/ verdict.
The United Nations whose responsibility was to supervise the preparation of the Trust Territory ” towardself-government or Independence ” as provided by Article 76(b) of the UN charter, was fully involved in all the negotiations that took place prior to the plebiscite of 11-12 February,1961.
The February, 1961 plebiscite resulted in victory in favor of Independence in Union with the Federation of Nigeria, which had become independent on 1st October,1960. The vote rejected Independence in Union with Cameroun Republic which became independent as from 1st January, 1960.
As a result of the February 1961 plebiscite the United Nations General Assembly made a resolution in April Res.1608(xv) (4a) of 21 April,1961 divesting Britain of its Trusteeship.
On 1st June, 1961 the United Nations Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons became part of the Federation of Nigeria with the initial name of sardauna province, a name given to honor the premier of Northern Nigeria for the role he played in campaigning for the people of the territory to vote in favor of the Federation of Nigeria.
Chapter III particularly section 25(1) CFRN (as altered) speaks of citizenship by birth, section 26(1) CFRN 1999 (as altered) talks about citizenship by registration and section 27(1) provides for citizenship by naturalization. For you to contest for National or House of Assembly elections section 65(1) (a) and 106 (a) of the CFRN as altered provide that you shall be a citizen of Nigeria among other qualifications whether by birth, registration or naturalization. The only impediment to such provided under section 307 which restricts citizen by registration or naturalization from holding any elective or appointive office within ten years of obtaining or attaining such citizenship.
On the other hand, for you to become a Nigerian President or Governor of any state of the Federation section 131 (a) and section 177 (a) of the CFRN 1999 as altered provide that you shall be a citizen by birth among other qualifications. Who is then a citizen by birth ? Section 25 (1) CFRN 1999 as altered provides; “25(1) the following persons are citizens of Nigeria by birth, namely-
(a) Every person born in Nigeria before the date of Independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of this section if neither of this parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria:
(b) Every person born in Nigeria after the date of Independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria: and
(c) Every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria.
(2) in this section, “the date of Independence” means the 1st day of October 1960 .”
By ordinary or literary interpretation of the above provision, the United Nations Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons citizens that joined Nigeria on 1st June 1961 are not citizens by birth as it were. However I submit that, is not the correct position legally and constitutionally for the following reasons:
1. After the plebiscite of 11-12 February,1961 conducted by the United Nations a Resolution was passed at its 994th plenary meeting, on 21st April, 1961 called Resolution 1608 which provides thus:
“1608(xv). The future of the Trust Territory of the Cameroons under United kingdom Administration the General Assembly,
Recalling its resolution 1350 (XIII) of 13 March 1959 concerning the future of the Trust Territory of the Cameroons under United kingdom administration in which the General Assembly recommended, inter alia, that the Adminstering Authority take steps, in consultation with the United Nations plebiscite Commissioner for the Cameroons under United kingdom administration, to organize, under the supervision of the United Nations, separate plebiscite in the northern and southern parts of the Cameroons under United kingdom Administration, in order to ascertain the wishes of the inhabitants of the Territory concerning their future, and that the plebiscite in the Northern Cameroons be held about the middle of November 1959 on the basis of the two questions set out in paragraph 2 of the said resolution, Recalling its resolution 1352 (XIV) of 16 October, 1959 whereby it decided, inter alia, that a plebiscite in the southern Cameroons would be held between 30 September, 1960 and March 1961, on the basis of the two questions set forth in paragraph 2 of the said resolution,
Recalling further its resolution 1473(XIV) of 12 December 1959 in which the General Assembly, having considered the result of the plebiscite in the northern part of Cameroons under United kingdom administration, recommended the organization by the Adminstering Authority, in consultation with the United Nations plebiscite Commissioner of a further plebiscite to be held in the Northern Cameroons under United Nations supervision between 30 September 1960 and March 1961, on the basis of two questions defined in paragraph 3 of the said resolution, Having examined the report of the United Nations plebiscite Commissioner concerning the two plebiscites held in the Northern and the southern Cameroons in February 1961 and the report of the Trusteeship Council thereon,
Having heard the petitioners,
1. Express its high appreciation of the work of United Nations plebiscite Commissioner for the Cameroons under United kingdom Administration and his staff;
2. Endorses the results of the plebiscites that:
(a) The people of the Northern Cameroons have, by a substantial majority, decided to achieve Independence by joining the independent Federation of Nigeria;
(b) The people of the southern Cameroons have similarly decide to achieve Independence by joining the independent Republic of Cameroon ;
3. Considers that, the people of the two parts of Trust Territory having freely and secretly expressed their wishes with regard to their respective futures in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 1352(XIV) and 1473( XIV), the decisions made by them through Democratic process under the supervision of the United Nations should immediately be implemented;
4. Decides that, the plebiscite’s having been taken separately with differing results, the Trusteeship Agreement of 13 December 1946 concerning the Cameroons under United kingdom administration shall be terminated, in accordance with Article 76 b of the charter of the United Nations and in agreement with the Administering Authority, in the following manner:
(a) With respect to the Northern Cameroons on 1st June 1961, upon its joining the Federation of Nigeria as a separate province of the Northern Region of Nigeria;
(b) With respect to the southern Cameroons, on 1st October, 1961, upon its joining the Republic of Cameroon;
5. Invites the Adminstering Authority, the Government of the southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroon to initiate urgent discussion with a view to finalizing, before 1st October, 1961, the arrangements by which the agreed and declared policies of the parties concerned will be implemented.”
994th plenary meeting,
2. In keeping with the above UN resolution, the Nigerian Republican Constitution of 1963 under section 10 fully recognized the inhabitants of the United Nations Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons as full citizens by birth the side note provides: ‘ special provisions as to Northern Cameroons’ It provides thus:
S. 10-(1) ” For the purpose of determining the status of persons connected with the part of Northern Nigeria which was not included in the Federation on the thirty -first day of May, 1961, the foregoing provisions of this chapter and subsection (3) of the section 17 of this chapter of this Constitution shall have effect as if-
(a) For any reference to a particular date there were substituted a reference to the last day of the period of eight months beginning with the day next following that date ; and
(b) For any reference to the former colony or protectorate of Nigeria (other than the second reference in section 7) there were substituted a reference to the part aforesaid;and (c) That other reference included a reference to the part aforesaid.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall prejudice the status of any person who is or may become a citizen of Nigeria apart from that subsection.”
SeCTION 17. S. 17 (3) referred to under section 10 of the 1963 Constitution
‘Any reference in this chapter to the national status of the Father of a person at the time of that person’s birth shall, in relation to a person born after the death of his father, be constructed as a reference to the national status of the Father at the time of his father’s death ; and where that death occurred after the thirtieth day of September, 1960, the national status that the Father would have had if he died on the first of day of October, 1960, shall be deemed to be his national status at the time of his death.”
There is no doubt that by the above provisions, inhabitants of the United Nations Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons are full citizens of Nigeria by birth, reading from section 7 of the CFRN 1963. However, it is being argued that section 23 of the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and section 25 CFRN 1999 are both silent on the issue of the UN Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons, as such they are not recognized as Nigeria citizens talk Les of being citizens by birth. I submit that, that is not true and not the position of both the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions of the FRN.
Section 268 of the 1979 CFRN which is a Transitional provision and saving provides:
S. 268 “Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 111 of this Constitution but subject to section 26 thereof, any person who became a citizen of Nigeria by birth , registration or naturalization under the provisions of any other Constitution shall continue to be a citizen of Nigeria under this Constitution.”
Section 309 of the 1999 CFRN as altered also has exact wordings of section 268 of the 1979 CFRN save for the figure of the section 26 which is section 28 therein that deals with persons that have dual citizenship who cannot retain their Nigeria citizenship unless renounced.
The argument that some persons are not Nigeria citizens by birth is palpably a fundamental fallacy due to grammatical misreading of the CFRN 1999 as altered.
For further understanding and details on the above subject matter please further read or consult the following write ups which I fully acknowledge.
1. The Nigerian Constitution 1963,1979 and 1999.
2. The UN Resolutions 1350 (XIII) of 13th March 1959, 1473(XIV) of 12th December, 1959 and 1608 (VX) of 21st April,1961 .
3. An Article titled “(Towards) implementing United Nations Trusteeship 1608 (XV)(4a) 21st April 1961 on union between United Nations Trusteeship Territory of Northern Cameroons and the Federal Republic of Nigeria” by concerned citizens of the Territory
4. An article titled” United Nations Trust Territory of Northern Cameroons 1884-1961(Brief Historical survey ) by TallaNgarka S. PhD, FHSN Associate professor of Diplomatic History Taraba state University, jalingo.
5. Article 75-85 of the UN charter on international Trusteeship system.
6. A letter to the president of the Senate and the speaker House of Representatives, Nigeria by movement for the Creation of Sardauna State 9-12-2009
7. Memo to the National conference through the Middle Belt Delegates to the conference June 2014
8. Some interesting Articles in Daily Times Newspaper titled:
(a) “Northern Cameroons wants to remain with Nigeria ” page 2 of Feb., 2 1959
(b) ” 79,401 Cameroonians say ” NO” November 11, 1959 continued as plebiscites at p.20 of the same date
(c) “Join Nigeria for peace and progress otherwise, poverty and hardship ” prime Minister tells Cameroonians , Daily Times Monday, January,23,1961 continued at page 13-15 as prime Minister speaks on Cameroons plebiscite .
(e)” Separate province assured for N. Cameroons in Nigeria” Daily Times Friday, Feb.,10,1961
(f) ” Cameroonians decide today” daily times Sat. Feb. 11, 1961
9. See also :
(I) ” Northern Cameroons to become separate province” Daily service Newspaper Thursday,June 23,1960
(II)” Cameroons plebiscite begins today ” Sat. Feb. 11, 1961 Nigerian Citizen Newspaper
* IBRAHIM TUKUR EL-SUDI ESQ, is a legal practitiopost and a seasoned politician from Taraba State.