story by crossriverwatch admin
National Association of Seadogs, NAS, has given the Federal Government ultimatum to without delay commence the process of appealing against the International Court of Justice ruling against the disputed oil-rich Peninsula that was ceded to Cameroon.
The Association also called on both the federal and Cross River State governments to without delay provide a comfortable resettlement area to reduce the suffering of the people.
The association in a statement signed by its president, Mr. Ide Owodiong-Idemeko and obtained by crossriverwatch, said “it is ironic that the country fought a civil war that lasted about 30 months where millions of innocent people lost their lives but in a jiffy, willingly surrendered its territory to another country”.
In the statement titled, “Save the Indigenous People of Bakassi”, the association expressed great concern over what it described as the federal government apparent unwillingness to appeal against the ICJ judgment of October 10, 2002 that ceded Bakassi to Cameroon.
The statement further stated that “Under the international charter, there is a window for appeal against any judgment by the affected country within ten years from the date the judgment is delivered if there are fresh facts which were not available as at the time judgment was entered into.
“It is unfortunate that the government of Nigeria under President Olusegun Obasanjo, had after the ICJ ruling, hastily surrendered the sovereignty of the country to the Cameroon and had entered into a Green Tree Agreement, GTA, in June 12, 2006, to abide by the decision of the ICJ without due consideration to any legitimate grounds upon which the judgment could be appealed under international law.
“As the ten years window for appeal against the judgment draws close, eminent Nigerians including the Nigerian Bar Association, representatives of Cross River State in the National Assembly, the displaced Bakassi indigenes and the Palace of Obong of Calabar, have called on the federal government to commence the process of appeal against the judgment, but to date no action in this regard appears to be forthcoming from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
It also noted with dismay the alleged “neglect, abandonment and inexplicable maltreatment of the indigenous people of Bakassi after ceding their land to Cameroon by the Nigerian Government under the Green Tree Agreement signed on June 12, 2006 signed in New York.”
Recalling that former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo submitted Nigeria to the jurisdiction of the ICJ despite virulent protests and court litigations from groups within and outside Nigeria, it noted that with the action coupled with several armed clashes along peninsula between both countries, the nation failed to act swiftly and decisively when time was its compatriot.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is on record that Bakassi, is the peninsular extension of the Nigerian territory of Calabar situated at the extreme eastern end of the Gulf of Guinea – a strategic military asset, also known to be oil-rich in the light of the discovery of rich reserves of high grade crude oil and a fertile fishing ground, comparable only to Newfoundland in North America and Scandinavia, in western Europe.
“The spectre of these losses can therefore be gleaned, consequently, with regard to the diminished livelihood of the people of Bakassi who have been displaced from their natural fishing environment,” it stated.
NAS which is also known as Pyrates Confraternity stated that the political, economic, cultural and historical importance of the displacement, abandonment and neglect of the people were immeasurable, adding that “on the political front, they were disenfranchised during the last governorship election in the state due to a legal quagmire between the Cross River State House of Assembly and The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as it affects ward delineation.”
It said that the carving of three wards from Akpabuyo Local Government Area by the State House of Assembly for the abode of the returnees with Ikang as the headquarters generated a rift between the Bakassi returnees and their Ikang neighbours in Akpabuyo.
It noted with consternation that the government of Cameroon had repeatedly violated the terms of the Green Tree Agreement especially in the forced change of names of Nigerian communities such as Usaghaedeh which has been renamed Isangele; Abana rechristened Jabana; and Archibong now called Akwa 1.
Besides, the association alleged that heavy levies and taxation of Nigerians within the ceded territories, molestation and regular assault of Nigerian fishermen on the waterways of the peninsula were regularly recorded contrary to part of the GTA that stated that Nigerian towns and communities would maintain their identities in spite of the ceding.
“As a responsible organisation in the fore-front of justice and equity, NAS, believes therefore, the Government of Nigeria cannot, and should not, remain inured to the pains of the Bakassi people,” it stated.
It therefore called on the Attorney General of the Federation to commence the process of lodging an appeal with the ICJ at the Hague, Netherlands before the expiration date of October 10, 2012.
This which it said should be done with the sole aim of restoring the Bakassi Peninsula to the Status quo ante prior to the said judgment ceding jurisdiction to Cameroon.
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