As of now there are conflicting reports as to what has happened to Tabe Ayuk Julius and others. If abducted, there is little to be said here. But if arrested, due process shall follow if Nigeria is in a state of law.
Professor, Kisob Fomudan, would tell us that “the law is an ass”. This would be followed by rhetorical questions and a hearty laugh at the end: – As the ass is not very intelligent, is the implication that the law is incomplete? – As the ass is docile, does it mean the law can be domesticated and ridden by whosoever? – As even children can ride the ass, is the law weak? Or that whosoever can use it in the furtherance of their growth and protection? – Is it that the law does not discriminate: accords equal protection? …
It is common knowledge that, by reason of sovereignty, Cameroun cannot walk into Nigeria and effect arrest even of her own citizens. Be it in the execution of an international arrest warrant, no country can override another country’s territorial integrity and of course sovereignty. It stands to reason then that arrest in the present circumstance can only be carried out by Nigeria. If Nigeria allowed Cameroun to arrest on Nigerian soil, Nigeria would still take responsibility before the international judicial authorities.
As explained elsewhere earlier, if Nigeria has arrested those persons pursuant to any international arrest warrants, due process will now commence. There is no such thing in international law as “automatic extradition” whatever the nature of the suspected crime. Every instance of extradition can be challenged before the courts with the necessary rights to appeal. Precluding anyone from availing themselves of such legal rights exposes the person so precluding to being legally constrained to pay reparation in due course.
But that is the law as it is; and the observance is contingent on the existence of a state of law. Nigeria has a history of an army general, turned civilian president, flouting the law. The case in point is that of the former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, that President Obasanjo made over to the international criminal court without any legal process. One may hasten to say, though, that, in that case, there was already an order from the international court for his arrest. That may not be a very appropriate precedent for the case of Tabe Ayuk Julius and others here. But we all know that the observance of the law in Africa changes like quicksilver!
Again must there be a distinction between the International Criminal Court and Camerounese domestic courts that do pass the death sentence. Nor is the case any minor the fact that the competent domestic court here is the court martial that offends against international criminal law. Nigeria would be taking a dangerous leap in the dark in the event of the nonobservance of due process within international norms!
We may realize just again that our victory songs could well be premature and, indeed, ephemeral!