•We ‘ll protect minority rights, says Mark
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Quebec Canada
Nigeria has commenced fresh talks with the Republic of Cameroon on the fate of Nigerians in the ceded Bakassi Peninsula. Senate President David Mark made this known at the ongoing 127th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Quebec, Canada.
The Senate President is expected to lead the Nigerian delegation, which includes Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, to a meeting with the Cameroon Parliament attending the IPU Assembly in Canada. The two countries would principally discuss the enforcement of the rights of Bakassi indigenes in the ceded Peninsula.
The Senate President said although there was a judicial ruling on the Peninsula, Nigeria intends to seize the initiative presented by IPU meeting to impress it on Cameroon to respect the fundamental human rights of the Bakassi people. “Bakassi is a different story entirely because for Bakassi, there’s a judicial decision and once there’s a judicial decision, you must be careful on revisiting it; is it revisiting it so that it will bring more profit or whether we should ensure that Nigerians who are in Bakassi have all their rights intact, to ensure that they are protected; that their human rights are protected?
“We will ensure that they are not maltreated by the Cameroonians. That is one of the issues we will actually take time to discuss with Cameroonian parliamentarians here at the IPU.” Speaking earlier, the Senate President, who spoke on “The parliament, linguistic and cultural diversity in a globalised world,” reminded the IPU that each nation had its own peculiarities but affirmed that Nigeria was on the path to addressing such diversities through a further amendment of its constitution. Senator Mark reiterated that the National Assembly would work to protect minority rights through an amendment of the country’s constitution.
He said: “Parliaments ratify international treaties, including those on human rights and the protection of the vulnerable and minority interests which their various countries are signatories to. “Indeed, we must bear in mind that every nation has its own peculiarities and must manage its diversities within such local contexts while also drawing from international best practices and standards.
“As a matter of fact, let me assure you, Mr President and distinguished delegates that the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not just in total support of raising the stakes in the management of diversities in a globalised world, we are already taking steps to ensure that every minority interest within the Nigerian state is well protected.
“We are working to remove all obstacles that hinder unity and harmonious coexistence. At the moment, efforts are on course at the National Assembly to further amend the 1999 Constitution.”