…As Obong, NLC Chairman lead protest
By NDUBUISI ORJI, Lagos and JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
As protests continued to trail the failure of the Federal Government to appeal the International Court of Justice(ICJ) judgment that ceded Bakassi Penunsula to Cameroun, the Cross River State Government has said it was not true that there were no fresh grounds for appeal.
The state government in a press statement issued by the state Attorney-General, Mr Attah Ochinke said the state raised seven grounds of appeal which it made available to the Federal Government. The Federal Government had hinged its failure to appeal judgment on the non availability of new information on the issue.
The Attorney-General said that while Cross River State should not be seen as joining issues with the Federal Government, it was imperative for it to state its own side of the story for the sake of posterity. Besides, he said the interest of the state government in the area was the people and not oil.
“I regret to say that it is not true that new facts were not made available to the committee that would compel Nigeria to seek a review of the ICJ judgment…a lot of work was done on this and about seven grounds were raised upon which the government could have based a review,” he stated.
Ochinke added that since Bakassi was a Nigerian territory, it was incumbent on the Federal Government to look for new information that would warrant a review
He said the claim that a review would tarnish Nigeria’s image in international circles was unfortunate. According him, instances abound of countries that had sought a review of ICJ judgments.
Leading the various protests yesterday included the palace of Obong of Calabar, the State Chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress. While the Obong of Calabar, His Eminence Edidem Okpo Okon Abasi, led the traditional institution, the chairman of NLC, Comrade Nyom Nyambi, led a solitary visit to the governor to pledge its unalloyed loyalty on the issue.
The leader of the protesters who stormed Governor’s office yesterday evening, chairman Etubom Traditional Rulers Council, Etubom Oko Bassey Duke,was unhappy with the role played by Federal Government on the Bakassi issue because their ancestors owned the land.
Duke said the people, while signing treaty with the British Colonialists had refused to handover the land to them and now, they have been pushed to the wall as they intended to take their case to the United Nations.
A one-time Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in the state, who was one of those that represented the state at ICJ, Mrs Nella Andem- Rabana, thanked Imoke and said the state put up a good fight despite some challenges and hoped the outcome would make the state more unified and purposeful.
Chairman of Bakassi Local Government Area, Dr. Ekpo Bassey referred to the decision by the Federal Government not to seek a review of the case as “the burial of the truth, which will not die but come out stronger.”
The State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Nyom Nyambi said they undertook the protest to support the state government in its resolve to reclaim Bakassi.
He therefore called on the state government to confiscate property of those that collaborated to ensure Bakassi was ceded to Cameroon.
Responding, Governor Liyel Imoke, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham, commended the leadership of the labour for the solidarity protest which according to him, would go a long way to strengthen the resolve of government on the issue.
Governor Liyel Imoke, while receiving indigenes of the area led by the Obong of Calabar, His Eminence Edidem Okpo Okon Abasi during a peaceful protest at Governor’s Office, Calabar asserted that the issue has gone international because the talk is about human beings not water, fish or oil.
The governor emphasized that the right of the people of Bakassi is recognized and enshrined in the United Nations charter and the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria which means that they have the right to live peacefully, exist and own homes and there should be no confusion over the issue.
Imoke maintained that the occasion was a good opportunity for the people to remain peaceful and explore other channels to address the issue.
Imoke disclosed that the state intends to work with the Federal Government and United Nations because it cannot bear the burden of the challenges which border on humanitarian and security alone.