From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday set up a committee to consider at the options for a review of the judgement that ceeded the Bakassi Peninsula to the Camerouns and how to take care of the people there.
President Jonathan’s decision was coming few days to the expiration of the appeal period on the case following a long drawn out meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly over the matter in the presidential villa. Nigeria has until October 9 deadline to appeal the ICJ ruling which ceded the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to neighbouring Cameroon was delivered on Oct. 10, 2002.
The meeting which started at 9 p.m. Wednesday night did not end until 2 a.m. Thursday morning. In attendance were Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, and other principal officers of the National Assembly. Also in attendance were Akwa Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio and his Cross River State counterpart, Liyal Imoke, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, and the Minister of Justice and AGF, Mohammed Adoke. Some leaders and representatives of selected groups from Bakassi, as well as presidential aides, were also in attendance.
Professor Bola Ajibola who spoke to newsmen after the meeting said that by the meeting the federal government has shown candid concerns for its people in Bakassi. Ajibola commended the move to follow the rule of law, dialogue, diplomacy in ensuring that the people are not wrongly dealt with. He expressed, optimism that the committee set up will handle it in a record time. Also speaking, the Cross River Governor Imoke, said that the President has shown great leadership quality by convening the meeting and standing firm on some of the decisions taken.
The Governor, who did not disclose the composition of the committee, said it would work within a specified time. He said Jonathan had shown great leadership quality by convening the meeting and standing firm on some of the decisions taken.
Also speaking, the Senate President, David Mark, said the executive arm of government and the lawmakers were now on the same page on the Bakassi issue. He said they would work together to achieve results. The Senate had last week unanimously passed a resolution mandating the Federal Government to appeal the ICJ judgement on Bakassi because of the new facts which had emerged over the matter.
The motion which gave rise to the resolution was sponsored by Sen. Abdul Ningi (PDP-Bauchi Central). He had argued that it would be wrong for Nigeria not to appeal the judgment because there was still opportunity to do so before the statutory expiration time.