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The UN's Stand on Sovereignty and Self determination & The Impact on the Proposed Oduduwa Republic

My understanding of Oduduwa republic is that there will be no ‘ethnic cleansing’ of non Yorubas. No residents will be asked to leave based on their ethnicity. Rather people will have their choice of where they what to live in or out of Oduduwa republic and their rights will be guaranteed.


According to the proponents, the 1914 amalgamation of Nigeria expired by 12.00 am on December 31, 2013, when it would have lasted for 100 years. It was alleged that Nigeria’s ‘treaty’ of amalgamation 1914 was to last for 100 years. Among the cacophony of voices was one that claimed that a consolidation of British treaties with ethnic nationalities formed an amalgamation ‘treaty’, which had a lifespan of 100 years.

Are these positions legally valid?

Below are Chijioke Emeka’s submission. First is clarification of issues, for clear premises. The notion of a ‘Treaty’ of Amalgamation has no validity in law, fact or even history. Also the position of the emergence of a ‘treaty’ of amalgamation through a consolidation of several treaties with ethnic nationalities, is also legally unfounded. Assuming there was in fact a treaty of amalgamation, there is no rule in the Law of Treaties that fixed the lifespan of treaties at 100 years. Contrary to the position of many of the ‘expirationists’, there is no document known as ‘Treaty’ of Amalgamation 1914 in Nigeria’s history. The British and other European traders made early contact with some indigenous kingdoms. The kingdoms were treated with diplomacy in recognition of their sovereignty. The Europeans included the Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italians and the British, who dealt with Benin, Lagos, Bonny, Opobo, Calabar, Onitsha, Asaba, Egba, Oyo, etc. in trade and missions even before colonialism. Before the treaties of cession, Europeans concluded bilateral treaties with some of these kingdoms. For example on January 1, 1852, King Akintoye of Lagos went on board the British ship, HMS Penelope, and signed a treaty with Commodore Henry W. Bruce and Mr. John Beecroft for the abolition of slave traffic, encouragement of legitimate trade and protection of missionaries. The British imperialist scheme culminating in full colonization was grounded in 1861 with the treaty of cession with Oba Docemo (Dosumu) of Lagos. The Treaty of Cession of Lagos 1861 was achieved through gun boat diplomacy, literally. The ostensible reason given in extending British sovereignty over Lagos was to stop slave trade and check-mate the ravaging King of Dahomey. But with the Royal Navy’s cruiser HMS Prometheus, purposely brought into the Lagoon, and its guns pointing menacingly at Lagos, Oba Dosumu had little choice. Dosumu transferred the port and Island of Lagos to the British Crown “forever”. Norman B. Bedingfield and William McCoskry signed for the Crown and Dosumu signed with four others. The British unfurled their flag and thus began to exercise sovereignty over Lagos, and in 1862 created it a Colony. With the return of Kosoko and his lieutenant, Tappa, to Lagos in 1863, Kosoko, who had earlier been exiled and later settled with Palma and Lekki, also ceded them to the British in exchange of pension. With the success recorded in Lagos and environs, the British used similar device to exact treaties of “protection” from other indigenous sovereigns. Thus there was “friendship” and “protection” treaty with King Jaja of Opobo in 1884, signed onboard the HMS Flirt, anchored on Opobo River. A similar treaty of “protection” was entered with the Obi Akata and other 12 Obis and Queen Omu Nwanuka of Asaba on 1st November, 1884 with Edward Hyde Hewett. On June 1, 1885, the then National African Company Limited (later Royal Nigeria Company) entered into a similar treaty with the Sultan of Sokoto, Umoru bin Ali, which was confirmed in 1890. Hundreds of similar “friendship” and “protection” treaties were signed with Native Chiefs across North and South. A treaty of commerce and friendship was signed with Abeokuta on 18th January,1893 between Gilbert T. Carter and Alake Osokalu, which “fully recognized” the independence of the Egba country. Apart from the Treaty with the Alake which ‘disingenuously’ (as later realized by the British after the amalgamation) allowed Egba independence as a country, the rest assigned entire territories and sovereignty to the British Crown in perpetuity. Material considerations were furnished in exchange of “protection”. The treaties were published in the London Gazette and competing foreign powers put on notice for recognition at international law. Against this background, by January 1, 1914, British authorities would not feel the necessity for an amalgamation treaty, an action seen as mere administrative decision, in the same way a Managing Director would merge his Personnel department and Human Resources department for administrative efficiency. Such a CEO wouldn’t need a General Meeting resolution for this ‘internal re-arrangement’. Amalgamation should be understood in this sense and not in the nature of corporate mergers and acquisitions, which would have required more. For economic reasons for amalgamation, some reports claim the Northern Protectorate ran on budget deficit, while the Southern Protectorate ran on surplus. The amalgamation was primarily to use the surplus to off-set the deficit. Some other reports indicate it was simply for ease of administration.

In conclusion search for 1914 amalgamation treaty is fruitless one. However this does not mean that our request for Oduduwa Republic only anchors on supposedly 1914 amalgamation treaty. Self determination law is available via the international court of justice. Self-determination

Self determination denotes the legal right of people to decide their own destiny in the international order. Self-determination is a core principle of international law, arising from customary international law, but also recognized as a general principle of law, and enshrined in a number of international treaties.

Essentially, the right to self-determination is the right of a people to determine its own destiny. In particular, the principle allows a people to choose its own political status and to determine its own form of economic, cultural and social development. Exercise of this right can result in a variety of different outcomes ranging from political independence through to full integration within a state. The importance lies in the right of choice, so that the outcome of a people's choice should not affect the existence of the right to make a choice. In practice, however, the possible outcome of an exercise of self-determination will often determine the attitude of governments towards the actual claim by a people or nation. Thus, while claims to cultural autonomy may be more readily recognized by states, claims to independence are more likely to be rejected by them. Nevertheless, the right to self-determination is recognized in international law as a right of process (not of outcome) belonging to peoples and not to states or governments. UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization)

The preferred outcome of an exercise of the right to self-determination varies greatly among the members of UNPO. For some of our members, such as Acheh, Tibet, Barotseland and Kabylia, the only acceptable outcome is full political independence. This is particularly true of occupied or colonized nations. For others, such as our members from West Balochistan, the goal is a degree of political, cultural and economic autonomy, sometimes in the form of a federal relationship. For others yet, the right to live on and manage a people's traditional lands free of external interference and incursion is the essential aim of a struggle for self-determination. Other members, such as Taiwan and Somaliland have already achieved a high-level or full self-determination, but are yet to be recognized as independent states by the international community.

Self-determination in International Law The principle of self-determination is prominently embodied in Article I of the Charter of the United Nations. Earlier it was explicitly embraced by US President Woodrow Wilson, by Lenin and others, and became the guiding principle for the reconstruction of Europe following World War I. The principle was incorporated into the 1941 Atlantic Charter and the Dumbarton Oaks proposals which evolved into the United Nations Charter. Its inclusion in the UN Charter marks the universal recognition of the principle as fundamental to the maintenance of friendly relations and peace among states. It is recognized as a right of all peoples in the first article common to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which both entered into force in 1976. 1 Paragraph 1 of this Article provides: All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. The right to self-determination of peoples is recognized in many other international and regional instruments, including the Declaration of Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States adopted b the UN General Assembly in 1970, 2, the Helsinki Final Act adopted by the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in 1975, 3, the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights of 1981, 4, the CSCE Charter of Paris for a New Europe adopted in 1990, 5, and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 1993. 6, It has been affirmed by the International Court of Justice in the Namibia case 7, the Western Sahara case 8, and the East Timor case 9, in which its erga omnes character was confirmed. Furthermore, the scope and content of the right to self-determination has been elaborated upon by the UN Human Rights Committee 10, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 11, and numerous leading international jurists.

That the right to self-determination is part of so called hard law has been affirmed also by the International Meeting of Experts for the Elucidation of the Concepts of Rights of Peoples brought together by UNESCO from 1985 to 1991, 12. It came to the conclusion that

(1) peoples' rights are recognized in international law;

(2) the list of such rights is not very clear, but also that

(3) hard law does in any event include the right to self-determination and the right to existence, in the sense of the Genocide Convention. The inclusion of the right to self-determination in the International Covenants on Human Rights and in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, referred to above, emphasizes that self-determination is an integral part of human rights law which has a universal application. At the same time, it is recognized that compliance with the right of self-determination is a fundamental condition for the enjoyment of other human rights and fundamental freedoms, be they civil, political, economic, social or cultural.

The concept of self-determination is a very powerful one. As Wolfgang Danspeckgruber put it: "No other concept is as powerful, visceral, emotional, unruly, as steep in creating aspirations and hopes as self-determination." It evokes emotions, expectations and fears which often lead to conflict and bloodshed. Some experts argued that the title holders should be or are limited in international law. Others believed in the need to limit the possible outcome for all or categories of title holders. Ultimately, the best approach is to view the right to self-determination in its broad sense, as a process providing a wide range of possible outcomes dependent on the situations, needs, interests and conditions of concerned parties. The principle and fundamental right to self-determination of all peoples is firmly established in international law.

Secession Vs self determination by Randy McDonald

Self-determination is generally taken to refer to the formal right, under international law, of a particular cultural group to determine its own affairs, while secession implies the detachment of a particular territory and/or population from one jurisdiction to another. Secession is one form of self-determination, but not the only--self-government, as evidenced by Quebec and Catalonia and Scotland in recent years, is one form of self-determination.

United States President James Buchanan, Fourth Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union December 3, 1860 said "The fact is that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war. If it cannot live in the affections of the people, it must one day perish. Congress possesses many means of preserving it by conciliation, but the sword was not placed in their hand to preserve it by force. This implies that we must carry along the Oduduwa public along for the actualization of our republic.

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