By Jonathan Ugbal
The former Minister of Information, Edwin Clark and several leaders from the Niger Delta region have called on the federal government to take proactive measures to protect the lives of the Nigerian citizens in Bakassi.
The leaders under the aegis of the pan Niger Delta forum (PANDEF) headed by Mr. Clark are seeking for the establishment of a presidential commission to protect Nigerians who choose to, and are living in Bakassi.
Channels TV reports that the group also decried the non-ratification of the green tree agreement which according to them has the ability, if implemented, to protect Nigerians who chose to remain in Bakkassi.
The appeal comes a few days after Cameroonian Gendarmes chased hundreds of Bakassi indigenes out of that country for failing to pay a NGN100,000 levy imposed by that country’s government which left many feared dead.
Those who arrived in Ikang community of southern Cross River State last week told tales of suffering and despair months after the Commissioner, Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Hajia Sadiya Faruk had announced plans to resettle the IDPs in Bakassi while meeting with Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River in March.
She described the ceding of the oil-rich peninsula to Cameroon by the International Court of Justice in 2002 as a national loss and reiterated the federal government’s resolve to settle the IDPs permanently.
But, billions of Naira has been spent by the federal and state governments over the years to ameliorate the sufferings of the returnees and IDPs with the Bakassi Resettlement Committee headed by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa accused several times of embezzlement, diversion of funds and relief materials and been a front to launder money from government coffers.
However, no action has been taken to probe all these until recently when Ita-giwa who defected to the All Progressives Congress accused Governor Ayade of witch-hunting her after she had alleged the state was diverting relief materials.
Tackles were traded between her people and others who claimed to leaders of Bakassi which led to them leveling allegations against her in several for a including the alleged diversion of proceeds from an oil field meant for the Bakassi people for herself despite originally hailing from Akwa Ibom state.