Ambazonia Defeats Cameroun in American Courts! What is going on?

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Blessed Mua AmbaNews24, Chicago USA

Over the last three years, Emmanuel Nsahlie has brought at least ten cases against Ambazonian leaders in American courts and lost all. Why? AmbaNews24 uncovers what is going on.

Since the Ambazonian liberation movement metamorphosed into an armed conflict, Cameroun desperately resorted to suing Ambazonians resident in the United States. The lawyer on attack has been Nsahlai who has attempted using the ‘victims’ tag to shield the real plaintiffs. Unfortunately for the barrister, public statements and relationships between him and the Cameroun government show that the Yaoundé regime funds and supports the cases.

Prominent and highly mediatized cases are cases against Tapang Ivo Tanku who doubles as the Spokesperson and Deputy Defense Chief of the Ambazonian Defense Forces (ADF). The reason for purposefully targeting the ADF is expressed in a report by The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED), a US based think tank. ACLED describes the ADF as the “largest Ambazonian separatist group …” and “in the absence of any ceasefire between the Ambazonia Defense Forces and the military, Cameroon is unlikely to see sustained drop in violence.”

Tapang Ivo, Spokesman of the ADF

Considering the ADF’s strength, organization, funding, and overall deployment, the Cameroun government is bent on destroying the ADF’s invincibility and focus. Despite these sustained legal and public relations attacks, the ADF remains strong and wins all legal battles for the reasons below.

Doctrine of the Separation of Powers

Nsahlai has entered the American courts with the Cameroun mindset where the executive controls the judiciary. To his greatest shock, American judges have reminded him that they have no respect for what Etoudi wills.

During the USA Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Amb. Tibor Nagy’s last visit to Yaoundé, Cameroun’s capital, authorities and politicians pleaded that the American government should repatriate all Ambazonian leaders living in the United States. Nagy disappointed them by asking for probable evidence that these leaders have violated American laws. He further warned that if they violated American law, American courts will try them, not Camerounian courts.

Text Box: Amb. Nagy (front, left) meets with Cameroun’s President, Paul Biya in Yaounde, 2019
Amb. Nagy (front, left) meets with Cameroun’s President, Paul Biya in Yaounde, 2019

The separation of powers is the fundamental hallmark of every democracy and the United States is undoubtedly the beacon of a unique democracy around the world. Tibor Nagy’s statement vividly demonstrated the extent to which the separation of powers protects every branch of government from encroachment, interference, or domination by another branch of government. In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States contextualized and reiterated the essence of the doctrine of the separation of powers when they rejected an application from the then President Bush to hold an accused in captivity.

The Court ruled that “while the doctrine of separation of powers protects each branch of government against unwarranted encroachment by other branches, these limitations exist not for the benefit of each branch as such but as a means of safeguarding the rights of individuals.”

The United States legal system manifestly prioritizes individual protections over political power. It is therefore, impossible to imagine Nagy or Donald Trump forcing the American Courts to forcibly deport Tapang Ivo Tanku and others to Cameroun. Similarly, the courts cannot oblige the government to designate Tapang Ivo or the ADF as terrorists.

The Supreme Court nicely captured this impossibility in the case of New York v. United States when it held that “the Constitution’s division of power among the three Branches is violated where one Branch invades the territory of another, whether or not the encroached upon Branch approves the encroachment.”

Nsahlai at a press conference in Yaounde

On these grounds, cases Nsahlai filed against the United States government praying the courts to oblige “the U.S government” to designate the ADF and Tapang as terrorists have been, and shall remain dead on arrival!

Political Question Doctrine

According to the U.S Immigration Act, terrorist organizations include “any organizations that the Secretary of State [Minister of Foreign Affairs] has specifically designated by name upon finding that it engages in terrorist activities.” Also, the Secretary of Homeland [Minister of Territorial Administration] in consultation” with the Attorney General can exclude a group from the terrorist list.

Though Nsahlai has been filing lawsuits in the United States since 2017 on charges of terrorism, he continues to lose because these cases fall under the jurisdiction of the executive power and not the judiciary. According to the political question doctrine, issues like designating an entity or an individual as a “terrorist” fall entirely within the political arms of government, that is, the executive or the legislative, and not the courts.

Emmanuel Nsahlai (middle, front facing)

American courts cannot, therefore, grant damages to anyone on charges of terrorism when that person or the organization with whom he militates has not been found by the executive branch to be a terrorist organization. Nsahlai will have to wait till such a dream day that the executive branch may designate the ADF as a terrorist organization before he can successfully bring charges against Tapang Ivo in an American Court.

Unfortunately for Nsahlai and his Yaoundé allies, the Trump’s executive branch holds the Yaoundé regime fundamentally responsible for turning a peaceful protest into an armed conflict by unleashing barbaric, blood thirsty heavily armed military men on armless civilians in 2016. Furthermore, the USA is more interested in seeing the conflict resolved that labelling groups in the conflict – and the party that is standing against the resolution of the conflict is Cameroun by refusing to go to the negotiation table.

The Ambazonia Governing Council on its part has been extremely smart. It has not refused negotiations to resolve the conflict; rather, it has asked the United States to be at the table of negotiation under the auspices of the United Nations.

A Recognized Armed Conflict

Cameroun’s desire to have the United States designate the ADF a terrorist organization cannot succeed because under U.S law, acts committed during war or armed conflicts are exempted from terrorism classification. The United States government has severally recognized the existence of an armed conflict between Cameroun and Ambazonia.

If the ADF had begun arm attacks on civilians and Cameroun infrastructure for months, and the Cameroun government tried to resolve the problem peacefully to no avail, the Biya regime would have given the Trump administration reason to designate the ADF a terrorist organization at that time. Rather, it was the Cameroun government that attacked peaceful civilians, and thus forced the ADF to rise in in defense of unarmed children. Biya then blundered by formally declaring war – thereby shutting the doors to terrorism designation of the ADF in the US State Department.

In addition to recognizing the armed conflict, the government of the United States stopped more than 17 million USD in military assistance to Yaoundé and terminated Cameroun’s participation in the USA-Africa Trade Deal amongst others. Nagy’s recent tweet reiterating that “government killing of civilians in Camero[u]n is inexcusable. I urge follow-through of Ngarbuh investigation and many other incidents of this nature” recognizes that the Camerounn government is an aggressor against kids, and the ADF’s defense of civilians remains a priority and a necessity.

What next?

Cameroun and Nsahlie have the option of stopping all frivolous lawsuits or have Emmanuel lose his license to practice law in the United States. If Nsahlie continues filing frivolous lawsuits against Ambazonians he will end up paying more than the two and half million francs cfa the Court last ordered him to pay to Tapang Ivo.