Those who were given the task of “normalizing” FECAFOOT decided to think like most politicians. Their political thinking consisted in deciding on the conclusion first, and then finding good arguments for it. And so they were shocked by people like Abdouramane Hamadou who were really prepared to let their thinking reach conclusions.
Indeed, most politicians have lived in the state of lawlessness in Cameroon for so long that the “headiness” of people like Abdouramanr Hamadou throws them completely off-balance, and they leave the stage looking more like twits. Faced with the realities of the rule of law, they act at best like clowns.
More often than not, social interactions in every society breed conflicts. It is the role of the courts to resolve such conflicts by enforcing the rule of law. Since democracy is a sort of conflict of ideas, passions and ambitions of humans prone to abusing their power, it can only thrive under the rule of law.
Simply put, the Rule of Law is the use of the law to secure the protection of the individual, groups, and even countries, without exception. In the spirit of the rule of law, all human beings are said to be equal and no one person, no matter their station in life, is more equal than others. It is the Rule of Law that preempts strong individuals, groups or countries from having the better of the weak, by hemming in their power with myriad restrictions concerning relationships and behaviors.
It is courts that say what the law is, and uphold the rule of law. Such courts include the various courts in a country, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS; or Tribunal arbitral du sport, TAS), the International Court of Justice (the World Court or ICJ), and many other arbitration bodies. In principle, at the end of the drama that usually marks conflict resolution in these courts, comes the court decision. Such decisions must be binding on the parties and be enforceable and enforced, otherwise the court system ridicules the rule of law, leaving the rule of the jungle to take its place.
We got to know more about the ICJ through the case that pitted Cameroon against Nigeria over the Bakassi Peninsula. We have come to know about CAS through Abdouraman Hamadou and the FECAFOOT normalization committee. The courts showed neutrality, and their decisions were binding, enforceable and enforced.
An independent judiciary is vital to enforcing the law and ensuring accountability in all areas of government and society. The judiciary is only effective if its decisions like those of the ICJ and CAS are enforced without more.
It is in recognition of the importance of the rule of law and the frailties of human nature that constitutions of countries make “the law” central to all activities in the country. For example, the Ghanaian constitution defines “the law of Ghana” on which the judicial power bases its actions, and states unequivocally that “In the exercise of the judicial power of Ghana, the Judiciary, in both its judicial and administrative functions, including financial administration, is subject only to this constitution and shall not be subject to the control or direction of any person or authority; neither the President nor Parliament nor any person acting under the authority of the President or Parliament nor any other person whatsoever shall interfere with judges or judicial officers or other persons exercising judicial power, in the exercise of their judicial functions…”
In contrast to this, the Cameroon constitution directs that "...the judicial power shall be independent of the executive and legislative powers...The President of the Republic shall guarantee the independence of the judicial power..." Indeed, it is the President of the Republic that is the president of the Higher Judicial Council!
It is Roland Mousnier that defined an institution as a guiding idea of procedures that are imposed according to an obligatory mode of behavior; the guiding idea and the procedures make a group of humans into an institution showing commonalities in behavior, attitude, and relations to others, regardless of the temporary occupants of the positions within it.
The courts are supposed to be neutral institutions that say what the law is, and uphold the rule of law. To use Wole Soyinka’s words, justice dispensed in courts is supposed to be unvarnished, unambiguous, blindfolded but decidedly not blind.
Lawsuits are supposed to be important vehicles for social change. Abdouramane Hamadou has used lawsuits in the Conciliation and arbitration arm of the National Olympics and Sports Committee [Chambre de Conciliation et d’Arbitrage du Comité national olympique et sportif du Cameroun- CCA/CNOSC)] and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to speak about the rule of law that is blindfolded but decidedly not blind.
His actions and their outcomes speak for and to all of us – our law courts, civil society actors, political parties … – all those who usually suffer injustice in silence and resignation. Justice may seem to be absent in the anarchy and dictatorship that passes for democracy here, but it is always present. It should always be sought. That is the message of my hero of the FECAFFOT normalization Committee saga – Abdouramane Hamadou!
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)