From JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
The struggle for the reclamation of the ceded Bakassi Peninsula has continued as Bakassi natives yesterday staged a protest at Ikang, Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State against the UN planned final demarcation of the international boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Daily Sun investigations revealed that the joint team of representatives of the United Nations, Nigeria and Cameroon arrived Calabar a couple of days ago for the demarcation of the Nigeria-Cameroon maritime boundary in line with the judgment of the International Court of Justice. The technical team yesterday paid a courtesy visit on the Chairman of Bakassi Local Government, Dr Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, who was said to have received them with heavy heart. At council headquarters, the natives, mostly youths numbering over 400, carried placards with inscription “Do you want to sell us finally to Cameroon?”
“UN and enemies of Bakassi, leave us alone;” “We are not going anywhere because we are Nigerians not Cameroonians;” “We want self determination” and “We will never give up on our homeland.” Speaking to newsmen, the spokesperson of the demonstrators, Augustine Omini Iwara, condemned the final moves by United Nations and the Federal Government of Nigeria to seal the hope of Bakassi people reclaiming their homeland.
He said, “it is surprising that the demarcation exercise is being undertaken despite the case filed by the people of Bakassi asserting their right to self determination in accordance with international law. We will do everything within our capacity to ensure that we do not allow this impunity to go on. “We insist that the Federal Government must obey its own laws by not pushing ahead with a matter that is pending before a court and even when the National Assembly was yet to ratify the Green Tree Agreement.
“We call on right-thinking Nigerians to please come to our aid before we are finally gone; this is the time to save Bakassi from extinction “We call on the United Nations to as a matter of urgency, conduct a referendum to enable Bakassi natives decide where they want to belong as nobody can force the people to become Cameroonians by compulsion,” he stated.
Also condemning the planned demarcation in a statement, Mr. Emmanuel Etene, the former Bakassi Council chairman, said, “I am strongly opposed to the moves by the United Nations, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Republic of Cameroon and the so-called Nigeria/Cameroon Mixed Commission to carry out the demarcation of the Maritime Boundary in the Bakassi Peninsula despite the ongoing case filed by them in the Federal High Court Abuja to enforce their fundamental human right to self determination.”
Also in his response counsel to the Save Bakassi Group, Mr. Obono Obla said, “For the avoidance of any doubt, on the 18th October 2012 the people of Bakassi represented by Emmanuel Etene, Thomas Archibong, Ani Ekpe Offiong, Solomon Inameti, Iby Ajobor and Mrs. Victoria Coham had instituted a Suit No. FHC/AbJ/CS/671/2012 against the Federal Government of Nigeria, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs , Surveyor General of the Federation of Nigeria, National Boundary Commission, Government of Cross River State of Nigeria, Attorney-General of Cross River State and Surveyor-General of Cross River State of Nigeria.”
The plaintiffs are among other things seeking reliefs an “order of perpetual injunction restraining the 5th respondent either by itself or in conjunction with Joint Technical Team of the Sub-Committee of the Cameroon/Nigeria Mixed Commission or any of its organs including their servants, agents, privies, officers, institutions or representatives in whatever guise or form from delineating and or demarcating the Marine Boundary of the 1st Defendant of the Ancestral Homelands of the Plaintiffs/Applicants in the guise of same being preclude towards the implementation of the final demarcation of the Maritime Boundaries of the 1st Defendant in purported satisfaction of the ICJ Judgment of 10th October 2002 and the Green Tree Agreement of 12th June 2006 without first recognizing the right of the plaintiffs to self determination.
“The defendants have all been served with the originating processes. The case is now before Honourable Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja. In other words, the matter is sub-juice. It is therefore curious, surprising and bizarre that despite the fact that this matter is before a court of competent jurisdiction, the Federal Government of Nigeria would still go ahead to give the nod to the Joint Technical Team to demarcate the maritime boundary.”
Daily Sun gathered authoritatively that the arrival of the UN team to Calabar has unsettled the state government and security personnel as the demarcation if concluded will really affect the operations of the Nigerian Navy and maritime officers just as it will have adverse effect on business across the waters. It was also gathered that some Bakassi natives and opinion leaders, who have been have been mobilized with hard currency, are discreetly working with the team to ensure successful demarcation exercise. As at the time of sending in this report, it was learnt that the team had already traveled by Sea to commence work.