Crossriverwatch can authoritatively report that a joint team of representatives of the United Nations, Nigeria and Cameroon have arrived Calabar in preparation for the demarcation of the Nigeria-Cameroon maritime boundary in line with the judgment of the International Court of Justice which ceded the oil rich peninsula to Cameroon.
Crossriverwatch gathered that the team members are lodged in Pyramid Hotel and are expected to begin work later in the week. It was not immediately clear what day the work will start or how the team intends to go about their task.
But the people of Bakassi in a statement by Mr. Emmanuel Etene, have also condemned strongly, the efforts 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 responding to the development, counsel to the Save Bakassi Group, Bar. 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 instituted 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 seeking among other 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 recognising 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-judice. 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”.
“This is an unremitting assault on the authority and integrity of the Court. It is a brutal subversion of the Rule of Law which is the cornerstone and fountain of the prevailing constitutional order in the country. The principle of the law which is settled is that when a matter is pending in Court and the defendant has been served and is therefore in notice of such a case the defendant or anybody for that matter is expected not to do anything to undermine the fair hearing of the case or place the Court in a situation of helplessness or a fait accompli”.
Also youths in the state under the auspices of the Cross River State Coalition for Change have vowed to disrupt any plans by the federal government to delineate the maritime boundary in Bakassi.
Speaking to crossriverwatch on telephone, Mr. Declan Ogar said the coalition is deeply concerned about the impunity with which the government is going about the Bakassi issue. He said: “It is surprising that just a few days ago, while speaking on NTA media chat, Mr. President insisted on his administration following the due process of law and in sharp contrast, the same administration is giving a nod to the demarcation of the maritime boundary in Cross River when the matter is sub-judice and when other contentious issues surrounding the matter have not been resolved”.
“This is very curious. We the young people in this state have kept mute since this matter began and we have concluded that, that may be the reason the federal government is doing all these. Were Bakassi to be Owuland where President Obasanjo hails from, would he have signed the Green Tree Agreement? If it were Otuoke, would President Jonathan approve the demarcation of the boundary? We have to begin to take action as young persons in this State over this matter and several other issues that the federal government has been breathing down the throat of Cross Riverians”.
The fiery activist promised that the coalition is mobilizing and will on Thursday morning occupy pyramid hotel where the delegation is lodging to let them know that they cannot do anything in Cross River State now until contentious matters around the Bakassi issue are amicably resolved.
Amb. Nkoyo Toyo; member representing Calabar Odukpani Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives also told crossriverwatch that: “the news about the arrival of the demarcation team is no doubt worrisome. I think that the federal government should exercise some restraint on this Bakassi matter. In whose interest is the rush to demarcate the boundary when matters are pending before the court? New arguments have also been raised by experts that deserve a second look, along with other unresolved issues including even the implementation of the GTA and the fate of the people of Bakassi. I will urge the government to suspend the exercise and see how these issues can first be resolved”.
A military source also hinted crossriverwatch that the naval high command is also mounting pressure on the federal government to reconsider its stand on giving away a very strategic military asset like the Bakassi peninsula which is the only access to the Atlantic ocean for the Eastern Naval Command.
The source said the leadership of the Navy were worried that should Cross River State lose its littoral status, Nigeria may no longer be a player in the gulf of guinea.
Crossriverwatch gathered that several technical meetings have been holding in Abuja involving federal and Cross River State officials to see how some of these concerns can be urgently addressed.
There are speculations that the government might reconsider its position on ceding 76 oil wells to Akwa-Ibom state as a way of keeping the littoral status of the state and remaining an influential player in the gulf of guinea.
There are also fears that a section of the Bakassi people that declared the botched independence from Nigeria, may be planning to unsettle the waters to stop the planned demarcation.
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