Sep 30, 2012

Response to Herakles’ Response to Land Grab Accusations‏ *

By Christopher Fon Achobang

Christopher Fon Achobang is a Rights Consultant based in the South West Region of Cameroon and has paid dozens of trips to the concession area, listening to local populations. 

Sincerely, I wish to thank CEO Bruce Wrobel for coming down from his New York Ivory Tower to bare his identity and feelings on the modern global genocide in preparation and perpetuation in the South West region of Cameroon.  It is admirable what the venture investments of Bruce Wrobel have done in other parts of Africa, which he is not ready to replicate in Cameroon, perhaps because of the vacuous business and legal environment. 

As I read through Bruce Wrobel’s epistle, I had to keep reminding myself that I was not reading a speech from the Third French Republic, presented by a colonial administrator/CEO, to the French National assembly in 1890. Apart from the language being English and the speaker being in New York, this open letter is a reminder to Africans that the colonialism they fought in the 1950s is rearing its ugly head again and is about to disinherit them and push them back into slavery. The only difference here is that the colonial bargain was between the European powers, while this new genocide is between new multinational vultures and African hawks in power. 

Herakles Farms has recruited easy baits amongst Cameroonians who are ready to sacrifice both fatherland and fraternity for some pittance from the New York venture enterprise. First was Dr. Isidore Timti alias “Yes We Can”, who attracted this genocide to our shores till his greed pushed him to the poison gas chambers of Herakles Farms in New York. I am sure he watches at the flirtations of Louis Paul Motaze, the Honourable Crook, dis-Honourable Chief Mbile, Chief Dr. Atem Ebako, Daniel Agoons et al from the bosom of his ancestors in Njinikom with apprehension and pity.  

It is unfortunate that supposedly village chiefs who should hearken to the wishes of their people have instead rushed to fill their stomachs with adulterated substances from Herakles Farms (HF).  It is a shame that Hon. Chief Mbile, formerly of Cameroon National Assembly and presently dis-honourable member of CONAC (Cameroon anti-corruption commission) is trusted by HF to champion the corruption of local chiefs and administrations in Mundemba. Even without notices and authorization from Yaounde, all the local administrators in Ndian Division have been bought over by Chief Mbile on behalf of HF. What Mbile is doing in Mundemba on behalf of HF is replicated in Nguti area by Chief Dr. Atem Ebako and Daniel Agoons. How can a good company like HF choose corruption as its mode of doing business? Even before it has been authorized to use land in Nguti and Mundemba, HF is already buying people’s consciences with free medical consultations, college scholarships (how much?), boreholes and financial handouts. Paying bribes to have its way is forbidden by any civilize government, including the American government. 

Louis Paul Motaze, former Minister of Plan and Regional Development, his agents and assigns should be getting ready to move to Kondengui maximum security prison for conspiring with a foreign company, HF to rob the Cameroonian people of their lands and resources. The Establishment Convention signed on 17 September 2009 by and between The Republic of Cameroon and SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC in the hand and seal of Louis Paul Motaze and an unnamed representative of HF is the most lamentable auction of statehood by any modern government official from any banana republic. We will examine the contents of this piece of wholesale liquidation treaty of Cameroon in a few paragraphs below.

Let me address the issues introduced by Bruce Wrobel in his epistle which he has nevertheless failed to address in the document. Bruce claims that “The Oakland Institute report is an uninformed attempt to wrongly portray Herakle Farms…) It would have been most wonderful for Bruce to use this medium to inform Cameroonians and the international community, instead of further bruising people. Unfortunately, Bruce prefers to bruise critics instead of using their talking points to throw more light on the issues raised.   

 The threat by HF to level Cameroonian rainforest while negatively impacting the lives of tens of thousands of formerly happy and content indigenous hunters and farmers in the South West Region of Cameroon is real and is already being seen in the nurseries. At the Fabe nursery, over 50 hectares of pristine and robust forest have been cleared. Crops have been destroyed along the way. HF has planted its beacons and pillars in local cocoa farms in the Nguti area around Ayong, Bombe Konye and Ekita.  

HF recruited surveyors from Ghana who went through the Cameroonian forest unaccompanied by technicians from the survey department to assist in the illegal demarcation process. It is even alleged that these Ghanaians were helping HF prospect for minerals as well as carry out other activities which should never be known by Cameroonians. If HF was only interested in survey and demarcation, surveyors abound in Cameroon, trained by the Public Works schools in Buea and Yaounde. Why did HF not get them if it had no hidden agenda?  

While the Cameroon government might still be considering the application from HF, the company has gone ahead to unilaterally demarcate the forest without any respect for sacred sites, burial grounds, areas of High Conservation Value, and the wishes of the indigenous peoples. In fact, it is only after the President of the Republic would have signed a land lease that HF would have been allowed to go with the indigenes for the demarcation of their forests. Once more I iterate that the forests belong to the indigenes according to the 1974 Land Tenure Law, which states that people who have been occupying land since 1974 can own land and apply for a land certificate. Most of the lands in the concession area have been occupied by the local population for more than a hundred years. 

HF, its agents and assigns have maintained an elitist discourse in the communities. HF has told local populations and their curious leadership that they were operating on the instructions of government and did not need the opinion of the people living in Nguti, Mundemba and Toko. Even the government of the Republic of Cameroon listens to indigenous populations when its interest intervenes with the rights of the people. So why will a foreign company have overriding powers to set the agenda and pace in Cameroon? To set up a school that will benefit the local population, government appeals to the local communities to identify a suitable location for the project. Through consultation and prior consent, the local community and the divisional lands consultative board, headed by the sub divisional officer will now go out to appraise the suitability of the land and make sure it is unencumbered before authorizing use for a government project, in the interest of the public. 

President Paul Biya cannot sign a land lease for 73,000 hectares without the informed opinion and consent of the local lands consultative board. For the concession area that HF is interested in, three Land Consultative boards come into play. The Mundemba sub divisional Lands Consultative Board, the Toko sub divisional Lands Consultative Board, the Nguti sub divisional Lands Consultative Board, made up of at least nine members each, would have to sign a document attesting their visits to the concession area and declaring that such lands are unencumbered by the customs and the traditions of the people before the President can sign. HF has been carrying out illegal activities by not subscribing to these basic tenets of land appropriation and concession in the Republic of Cameroon. Herakles Farms is not absolved of the law setting conditions for land acquisition in Cameroon. 

Bruce Wrobel describes HF as an “incubator” of ideas. The assertion may be good for other parts of the world. In fact, in Cameroon, HF is an “Incubator of Poverty”. If any assessment was done of the economic might of the concession area, HF would have realized that the people in Nguti, for instance, are self-sufficient, surviving very well in their natural environment and allowing nature to thrive. I have been going to this area to study the socio-economic situation of the people for the last 15 months. I will describe the Nguti sub division as one of the richest in Cameroon. Take the village of Ntale, for instance. Ntale is made up of over 1000 cocoa farmers, according to the village head, Chief Ajang Samuel. The smallest cocoa farmer I met was Antonio Enobi with 10 hectares of cocoa. Averagely he harvests 300 kilograms of cocoa per hectare. This puts him in the neighborhood of 3 tons a year. A ton of cocoa in Ntale costs FCFA 850,000. Antonio makes about FCFA 2,550,000 a year. Other farmers in Ntale recruit over 20 labourers during the cocoa peak season of about three months. 

On no occasion will Antonio have earned FCFA 212,500 a month if he was employed as a labourer by HF. Presently, HF pays about FCFA 60,000 a month for general labour. HF has also told its workers that once the company has its authorization, this amount will drop to FCFA 30,000. Young Antonio Enobi could, alone, pay 7 wages from his monthly intake. So if the Oakland Institute Report claims that people had been living happily, then they are right. It is certain that HF has its eyes on the 10 hectares of land Antonio is farming. Bruce Wrobel says they are not going to take farms. I wish he could explain what he means by paying land rents of US$1.00 for developed land. Developed land here will mean all land which was formerly occupied by cocoa and other crops. Is it possible that the government of Cameroon believes that a hectare of land is worth only FCFA 500 a year? If it so believes, then the vision 2035 will only be realized in 6025. Taking the land from the people of Nguti and giving it to HF will send the local population 4 centuries back. HF knows this.   

Bad Arithmetic 

Section 13.5 of the Convention concerning Surface Rental states; Commencing on the Effective Date for Investor and continuing through out the Term, Investor shall pay annual surface rent to Government of US$1.00 per hectare for State Land that is Developed Land, and US$0.50 per hectare for State Land that is not Developed Land. 

It is unbelievable that HF intends to destroy crops on Developed Land which fetches indigenous farmers FCFA 400,000 (US$800.oo) a year, only to pay a pittance of  FCFA 500 or US$1.00 to government as annual rent for land. Each ton of cocoa that is shipped from Cameroon pays custom export duties of over FCFA 75,000. HF tactfully, included a clause in the convention exempting it from all forms of import or export duties for the Term of the contract (99 years exemption from duty).  It means Cameroon will be losing FCFA 475,000 a year from a hectare of cocoa to make FCFA 500 from a hectare of land surrendered for HF palm oil plantations.  

Local people also stand to lose an important source of their non timber forest products like Njangsanga, African bush mango, black pepper, bitter cola, eru and others. These products have both nutritive and medicinal value, tested and proven by both alternative and modern medicine. Most African countries depend on the forests of Cameroon for these resources which are almost extinct in West Africa. 

Section 12.1 Import and Export Taxes and Duties. Throughout the Term, Investor shall enjoy a total exemption from any and all existing and future Taxes and Duties payable on imports and exports. Is this not robbing Cameroon? This leads us into asking whether Louis Paul Motaze had scales on his eyes when he signed the Establishment Convention or he simply does not understand English. The whole thing smells of another Albatross style fraud. We are waiting for President Biya to order parliamentary and judicial investigations on this wholesale auction of Cameroon by the hand of Louis Paul Motaze et al.

Bruce Wrobel describes the Oakland Institute Report as “dishonest”. Dishonesty is best perceived by dishonest people. Once more, the Cameroonian people wish to know what will happen to the percentage Dr. Isidore Timti was going to make from the project for 99 years if it was authorized. Dishonestly, HF decided to eliminate him than respect a simple gentlemanly agreement. It is also dishonest for Herakles to go around announcing that the project was a government project and that government had authorized HF to go around mapping land. 

Environmental Issues around project 

HF cleared forest without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). If the company has not got the logistics to carry out an EIA, why did they not exploit the recommendations of the three environmental NGOs who used time and resources to study the area? In 1987, WWF, GTZ (GIZ) DFID after studies proposed that the area straddling the KORUP National Park and the Rumpi Hills be used solely for local farming. The report went ahead to state that any massive clearing of large expanses of land should be avoided as that will lead to erosion, environmental degradation and global warming. The report was endorsed in 1989 and has been widely accepted as real and authentic. Without the relevant knowhow, HF prefers to scathe this all important report from three objective organizations. 

When I listen to people in the HF proposed concession area around Mundemba and Toko, they ask pertinent questions like, where does the government want us to go after they had taken away our 129,000 hectares for the KORUP National Park and tens of thousands more for the Rumpi Hills? They argue that government had promised them that the land left between the KORUP and Rumpi Hills was just sufficient for them to live on it sustainably. When their means of sustenance is today taken and given to SGSOC, where does government want them to go? 

Chief Nangea Felix of Fabe village, a vocal proponent of HF project seems to avail a ready answer. He confesses that the Prime Minister had reassured them that they should give land to SGSOC and that if they needed land in the future, government will go to the KORUP National Park and cut part of the park and retrocede to them. This allegation flies in the face of conservation and vindicates environmental skeptics who have vehemently stated that HF will threaten the national Parks of Korup, Rumpi Hills, Bayang Mbo Sanctuary and Bakossi Mountains. I have already noticed how much the cleared nursery surface in Fabe is being eroded and the chemicals which are washed from the nursery into nearby rivers as such dangerously modifying the environment. 

The Rumpi Hills is a major watershed for the sub region. Most rivers in the South West Region and Littoral Region take their rise from the Rumpi Hills. The River Mungo which is canalized and potted in homes in Douala for drinking and other uses originates from the Rumpi Hills. The Cross River which gives its name to Cross River State in Nigeria also rises from the Rumpi Hills. Any massive clearing of this area will be deleterious to the catchment and deal a devastating blow to humanity.  

The natural forest as it stands, primary or secondary, plays a major role that Bruce Wrobel cannot pretend to ignore. Clearing forest in the South West Region does not impact only the region adversely. The consequences are universal. These 73,000 hectares of forest is part of our common human heritage. Global warming is not a local Cameroonian problem. It is a global problem that is best tackled by leaving the concession area the way it is. 

Bruce Wrobel seems to be advancing the idea that because the forest is secondary it has no value. Unfortunately, secondary forest seems to be more environmentally robust as new species are locked in a new biodiversity struggle leading to evolutionary modifications and generation of hitherto unknown fauna and flora. However, listening again to Chief Nangea Felix of Fabe on camera, he states that their forest is very rich as no one has ever gone there to cut trees. Daniel Agoons, a runaway environmentalist and son of the Mundemba soil can enlighten Bruce, off-camera, of the realities which HF want to present through a twisted prism to the world.  

I do not know whether Bruce Wrobel expects international NGOs to advocate best on behalf of local populations, or he hates little known SEFE. As a matter of fact, SEFE was not created to fight HF. SEFE has been existing since 1984 and the records can prove this. As a Civil Society Organization, CSO, with an in-depth knowledge of the environment and issues, SEFE articulates just the basic aspirations of the people of Mundemba in particular and the whole South West in general. CED and RELUFA are also trusted as some of the most objective voices for environmental and indigenous rights issues in Cameroon and were not created in 1994 for the expedience and expectation of the advent of Herakles Farms in 2009. Less I forget, Herakles Farms would have consulted and should be consulting these organizations, instead of allowing itself to be duped and dragged into error by unscrupulous individuals like Dr. Isidore Timti, Chief Dr. Atem Ebako, Daniel Agoons, Hon Chief Mbile et al.  

HF observations about the functioning democracy and legal system in Cameroon are premature as it wishes to use this praise to further push the country into a dismal vortex and implosion. If Bruce trusts the legal system in Cameroon, he should subscribe to it and not allow ulterior motives of gain to drive his actions. If that legal system is so trusted, why did HF not discuss the settlement for Dr. Issidore Timti’s contributions to Herakles Farms in a law court than through the jingoistic dog-eat-dog tactics the company used? If company trusts Cameroon legal system, why will it instruct its Site manager, Leslie Njume of Fabe to ambush, assault and cause bodily harm to Nasako Bissingi of SEFE? Why does HF believe that eliminating an opponent like Nasako Bissingi will stop opposition to the project? 

Opposition to the Project 

From his ivory tower in New York, it is not possible for Bruce Wrobel to know the depth of the opposition in Mundemba, Toko and Nguti against Herakles Farms, its agents, assigns and all its activities. If it is difficult for the governor of the South West Region, resident in Buea 200 kilometers from Mundemba to know what is happening there, how much more for HF in New York. If it is difficult for the President of the Republic of Cameroon to know what is happening in the MINPAT (Ministry of Planning and Territorial Development), where the country is auctioned under the nose of the one who is supposed to jealously protect the territorial integrity of the land, how much more for an Economic Hit Man like Bruce Wrobel, with no DNA affinity nor political commitment to Cameroonians, and who is ready to stop at nothing to have its way and grab 73,000 hectares of pristine forest in Cameroon? 

Let me state here for the records, and independently of Oakland Institute, which I do not know, that there is widespread opposition of about 80 percent to the project. I have patiently gathered dozens of pages of petitions against the project. Thousands of signatures have been collected from the Mundemba area alone from people protesting the grabbing of their lands. To be precise, 3364 people have signed their opposition to the project in the 23 villages of Toko and Mundemba sub divisions.

There are 23 villages in the concession area; 1) Mofoko Bima, 2) Ngenye Bima, 3) Esoki Bima, 4) Mokange Bima, 5) Fabe Bima, 6) Lipenja II Batanga, 7) Meangwe II Ngolo, 8) Ndiba Ngolo, 9) Meta Ngolo, 10) Beboka Bima, 11) Kuma Bima, 12) Lipenja II Batanga, 13) Iwai Bima, 14) Mobenge Ngolo, 15) Bwene Ngolo, 16) Mokango Bima, 17) Massaka Bima, 18) Manya Batanga, 19) Mayeke Batanga, 20) Bareka Batanga, 21) Esoki Batanga, 22) Loe Batanga, 23 Ikondo kondo I. 

Of these 23 villages which HF presents as having signed the MOU and support the project, only 9 signatures are genuine. Of the 9 signatures, only two villages have a forest to offer HF. The rest, Lipenja I numbering 250 people, Mokango Bima, 110 people, Kuma Bima, 58 people, Beboka Bima, 48 people, Bweme Ngolo, 68 people, Mobenge Ngolo, 55 people and Iwai Bima, 15 people, only Fabe, 100 people and Mokange, 105 people have land to offer the HF project. These are the 809 people in a community of over 14,500 who have accepted HF in principle. Today, we have 3,000 plus signatures from the Mudemba and Toko sub divisions alone. Let me also remind Bruce that the Bima, Ngolo and Batanga are ready to give HF a real run for its money if you succeeded in bribing yourself through the Presidency of Cameroon and imposing yourself on their lands. That will be in total contravention of the requirement for prior and informed consent in land acquisition in Cameroon. 

The populations of Mundemba and Toko sub divisions state emphatically that there is no paramount chief of the Batanga and that Chief Mbile who is parading as paramount chief is not recognized as such by his peers. He is seen as a corrupt impostor who is avaricious and can sell his father’s tomb for money. They claim that when the moment of reckoning will come, the true heirs to the Lipenja I chieftaincy stool will show themselves and HF will regret the trust invested in a rogue like Mbile. We have other honourable rogues in Cameroon and even more still sitting among honourable parliamentarians today.  

There is a mountain of evidence that Daniel Agoons has been bribing and attempting to bribe people on behalf of HF. He approached the activist and deputy mayor of Mudemba council, Namulongo Peter with a proposal of FCFA 13,000,000 to change his position in favour of HF. I recently encouraged him to take the money and hold it as evidence of the corrupt practices of HF. Chief Mbile has been bribing people on behalf of HF and as of last Saturday 21 September 2012 he paid out his most recent bribe package to some supporters in Kumba. Chief Eleli of Meangwe II confessed that Chief Mbile has approached him many times to take money and support HF.

To further prove opposition to HF, the community of Meangwe II barred the way to a team of technicians claiming to be drilling for a borehole to get water to the surface for the community. The technicians were simply ordered to leave or face the wrath of the teeming 850 population present in the village. Just the population of Meangwe II alone, tip the balance against all the 9 villages which have signed on to HF. 

Bruce, be informed that of the 19 villages in Nguti sub division, only the chiefs of three villages support the project. Only Chief Dr Atem Ebako of Talangaye, who has surrendered his personal 47 hectares of forest for the HF nursery, in exchange of patronage, money and cars, Chief Eben Nkongho of Manyemen, and Chief Lordson Asek of Ayong who is a worker with the HF nursery in Talangaye has gotten into deals with HF. When I interviewed people in these villages their populations all oppose the advent of HF. 

Manyemen community evolved a scheme by which from their last farmland, they set aside 3 kilometers for future development and generations to come. What was left was just 500 meters for HF. HF went and tricked the SDO of Kupe Muanenguba and bribed him to come to Manyemen and tell the people they should remove all HF pillars and adjust them so that they were planted far from farmlands. True to HF modus of falsehood and deceit, HF sneaked back and planted the pillars instead towards the village as such gaining more land for itself. This attracted protests from some folks led by retired Adjudant Ayuk, formerly of the Cameroon army. The village is now split and preparing for a deep schism. Is it becoming true that wherever there are resources, American Economic Hit Men like Bruce Wrobel will fan the flames of conflict, so that while the indigenous people are fighting and killing themselves, the invader company reaps their resources?

All the Bassosi villages (11) under the umbrella of Mboum Nsuanse (Bassosi Cultural and Development Association) have vowed never to cede an inch of its lands to HF. That notwithstanding, HF has planted its beacons and marks through their farmlands and forests. The chiefs of the following Bassosi villages  numbering over 18,000 people spread out through the villages of 1)Ntale, 2) Bombe Konye, 3) Mungo Ndor, 4) New Konye, 5) Babensi I, 6) Babensi II, 7) Ekita, 8) Ediango, 9) Ekenge, 10) Ofrikpabi, 11) Mboka, have vowed to face HF with their machetes and traditional gadgets if HF pursued its trespass and sacrilege of its holy and sacred sites in the forest. 

Following complaints from the communities about the falsehood and bad faith of HF and its agents and assigns, some Bassosi elites and associations have petitioned the Head of State of the Republic of Cameroon not to grant any portion of their land to HF. 

It is true that after many years of a traditional lifestyle of farming and hunting, the people of Nguti were excited to welcome a company that will create jobs. With that enthusiasm some of them put their signatures to a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that still had to be discussed with all stakeholders. On 31 January 2009, some chiefs and elites of Nguti signed a proposed MOU. They were expecting a discussion of the points at subsequent meetings and as it never happened, the National President of the Nguti Sub-divisional cultural and Development Association (NGUSCUDA) wrote to Bruce Wrobel, CEO of HF on 18 August 2009, complaining about HF’s disregard for the conditions laid down for any cooperation with the Bassosi. The same petition ordered HF to suspend all its activities and discuss with this important stakeholder. HF did not only ignore this injunction but it went ahead to continue its illegal activities.  

Following this, a renunciation of the MOU was sent to your offices captioned RE. RENOUNCING OF THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE PEOPLES OF NGUTI SUB DIVISION AND SUSTAINABLE OILS CAMEROON (SGSOC) PLC This document raised the following issues; 

a)     Till 2010 SGSOC refused to return a signed copy of the MOU to the people of Nguti.
b)     HF refused to meet as stipulated in MOU to demarcate and agree on the parcel of land to be surrendered to SGSOC PLC for the plantation. But HF had gone ahead to demarcate and plant beacons trespassing into local farmlands.
c)      We had never intended to give SGSOC PLC a blanket authorization to exploit our land, but we are prepared to release portions of such land as we would jointly demarcate ensuring sufficient farmland and a buffer land for the indigenous populations.
d)     The chiefs and populations of Nguti sub Division on 25 November 2009 addressed a list of specific demands to the Management of SG SOC PLC for them to address and further discuss with the population and chiefs. SGSOC PLC has not responded to these demands to this day ignoring the body (Think Tank) that was set up to play the role of intermediary between SGSOC PLC and the local stakeholders.
e)     SGSOC has systematically demonstrated total disregard for the future of our population.  

They therefore ruled that 

1.       Considering the persistent refusal of SGSOC PLC to come back and dialogue with the local stakeholders as to the specific surface area to be surrendered to the plantation project.
2.      Considering the insincerity of the representative of SGSOC PLC in the handling of negotiations with the population.
3.      Considering that the signed MOU was a personal mark of confidence to Dr. Timti Isidore (your consultant) by the local stakeholders intended to give SGSOC PLC a document to assist them negotiate with the government of Cameroon for an authorization to operate a plantation in Cameroon, and then come back to the local stakeholders for a more concrete agreement, 

We the chiefs and population of Nguti sub division, find it extremely inappropriate to deal with a potential partner who has systematically demonstrated bad faith and do hereby RENOUNCE the MEMORANDUM OF UNDRSTANDING (MOU) which embodied the NOTICE OF CONSENT signed between the chiefs and population of Nguti Sub Division and SGSOC PLC. 

We therefore withdraw all our support for this project until they will comply with our demands. 

This was signed by Hon Asu Mbanda George, MP for Nguti sub division, Tanyi George Ayompe, Mayor of Nguti, Chief Ehuom William Ngam, President of Nguti sub divisional Chiefs conference, Dr. Chief Atem Ebako, Think Tank Member, Napoleon Nyake, President NGUSCUDA, and 14 other signatories on the main attendance sheet, among which are the chiefs of Manyemen and Betock. 

At what point did you comply with these points and when did you address the issues raised to have won the support of pioneer ardent opponents like Dr. Chief Atem Ebako, who surrendered his personal lands to HF, Napoleon Nyake Besong and Chief Eben Nkongho of Manyemen? Should we go with the supported claim that you have bribed all these people to cross the carpet to your side without you giving anything to the communities? You prefer to deal with individuals than all parties. This is what is called “Divide and Rule”.  

On 28 June 2010, representatives of NGUSCUDA wrote you complaining of their patience being stretched beyond limits as SGSOC took advantage of the enthusiastic welcome given the project to go ahead seeking government approval to occupy lands in Nguti without having met with the most basic of the requirements agreed upon.  This was signed by Hon Asu Mbanda and Napoleon Nyake. 

On 29 June 2010, Hon Asu Mbanda George wrote to the President of the Republic of Cameroon stating that the People of Nguti sub Division Objected the Attempt by SITHE GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE OILS CAMEROON (SGSOC PLC) to Irregularly Exploit the sub Divisional Land to the Detriment of the Population. The petition actually requested the President not to entertain any request from SGSOC PLC to obtain government approval to exploit land in Nguti. 

On 18 November 2010 Dr. Nzo-Nguty Bernard Wrote to the CEO of SGSOC copying the Prime Minister  of Cameroon, Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, ordering an immediate suspension of the project by SGSOC Plantation in Nguti Sub Division, South West Region. Dr Nzo-Nguty condemned the obtaining of a false document from Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) Ekona on 20 November 2009 on the vegetation and land use in the Nguti-Manyemen-Toko area. The learned doctor said contrary to the cited document, most of the land in the area is made up of more than 80 percent primary forest with economically and medicinally very rich tree species. 

It is the problem of HF if it chooses to disregard the normal channels of dialogue and consensus, preferring to patronize individuals who cannot decide for whole communities. The selective choice of who to meet and where is for the convenience of bribing individuals. As HF is informed that Cameroon is a corrupt country, it resorts to massive corruption of individuals, instead of facing conventional ethical business practices. In this light HF refused to meet Nasako Bissingi of SEFE in the company of his lawyer, cancelling the meeting when the activist insisted he will only meet them in the presence of his lawyer. 

Bruce claims that timber will be logged trimmed and surrendered to government for sale. But the Establishment Convention of 2009 states that  

3.3 Incidental Rights 

(a) Subject to the terms and conditions of this Convention, and only as necessary or desirable for the proper and efficient exercise of rights granted to Investor under Section 3.1, Investor and any Investor Party shall have the right:

(iv)            exclusively within the Production  Area, to plant, cut and utilize timber, to the extent Investor and Investor party deem necessary for the construction and maintenance of Infrastructure, without the need to obtain any further authorization or pay any further fees, and for other Investor Activities within the Production Area, subject to Article 10;
(v)              exclusively, within the Production Area, to take and use, subject to any limitations pursuant to Article 10, free of charge (but not to sell to any other Person without the written approval of the Government), such water, earth, stones, rocks, sand, clay and gravel having no significant commercial mineral value other than as aggregate filler or other construction material, as Investor may consider necessary or useful for Investor Activities, without the need to obtain any further authorization or pay any further fees. Any activity conducted pursuant to this Section 3.3(a)(v) shall not be considered to be mining for purposes of any Law. 

So when were these clauses or the Establishment Convention revised? The Establishment Convention clearly demonstrates the sweeping powers investor seeks and the greed which would have resulted thereof. No wonder, the HF project has generated the most controversy even before it had been authorized to go ahead. Look at CARBON and the carbon credits that HF intends to reduce by clearing forests. HF forces government to surrender its rights and benefits to such a naturally generated product, (if environment was left intact) to investor in the following conflated clause.  

4.11 Facilitation of Permits, Licenses, and Authorizations. 

4.14 Carbon Credits 

Government undertakes to promptly provide to Investor all certificates, consents, authorizations, and other support reasonably requested by Investor in connection with the application for or monetization of the Credits. 

13 Other Taxes and Payments 

13.3 Carbon Credits 

Government acknowledges that to the extent that Investor realizes certified emission reduction credits or other carbon or carbon-equivalent emission reduction credits, or any corresponding monetary value or cost savings that results from greenhouse gas emission reductions, whether created by Investor, any Investor Party, any Project participant or any Third Party acting under the direction of Investor or any Investor Party (“Credits”) associated with the Investor Activities, Investor alone shall be entitled to all such Credits and all corresponding cost savings. 

Once more, we are obliged to ask where the legal luminaries in Cameroon went to when Minister Louis Paul Motaze was bribed and blindfolded to put his sign to this ludicrous piece of convention which even seeks to override the laws of the land.  

Why would the private sector be the ones to decide “reasonable restrictions” of local peoples’ access rights to their villages, houses, farms, and which are inside the production area)? Is this consistent with Cameroon Constitution?  

3.3 Incidental Rights 

(b) The Parties agree that all trials and paths across the Production Area used immemorially by the local population shall remain open to free use by the public, subject to such reasonable restrictions as Investor shall, in conformity with applicable Law, impose (i) in the interest of the safety and security of the property and assets of Project Participants, and (ii) to assure that such use does not materially interfere with any Investor Activities.  

Can a contract with a private company override the laws laid down by Parliament? An investor seeks to conform to the laws of the land not write out its own laws in the form of an Establishment convention. They cannot insist that in the matter of conflict, the Terms of the convention shall take precedence on all other laws.

22.2 Construction and Interpretation 

This Convention (including its formation and any questions regarding the existence, validity or termination of this Convention) and the rights, obligations and duties of the Parties under this Convention shall be construed and interpreted in accordance with Law and by such rules and principles of international law as may be applicable, particularly with regard to an investment by nationals of one country in another country. However, in the event of a conflict between this Convention and any Law, except for the Constitution of Cameroon, as in effect as of the date hereof, the rights, obligations and duties of a Party shall be deemed to be those set forth in this Convention and each Party shall have such remedies as are provided for in this Convention with respect thereto including the remedies set forth in this Article 22. 

In fact, this is just too much. I will like to limit my rejoinder to Bruce’s epistle. Yet, it is necessary to have underscored the points above, which are not even known by the local population and the peoples of Cameroon. Upon request, I am ready to ship out this abusive Establishment Convention to any institution, organization and persons interested in appraising the brewing conflict over Herakles Farms in Cameroon. This will enable people to understand and appreciate the modesty of the report from Oakland Institute. 

I wish to add my voice to the dozens of petitions which are sitting on the President of the Republic’s table, to appeal to him to eject Herakle Farms, its agents and assigns from Cameroon. Failure to do this, President Biya and his entire government shall be held responsible for this genocide which is in preparation in Cameroon. President Biya should start by firing Chief Mbile from CONAC. Such a corrupt individual cannot be allowed to sit with people who are supposed to be incorruptible. Let full judicial investigations begin on this HF issue and necessary steps taken to arrest the intended bleeding of Cameroon and Cameroonians to transfuse the anemic Herakles Farms. God Bless Cameroon.
[The title of this article was slightly modified b Alternative révolutionnaire for technical reasons. We thank Christopher Fon Achobang in advance for understanding]

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