A group led by a former Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, on Saturday disagreed with another body over where the displaced people from the Bakassi Peninsula should be settled.
While Ita-Giwa’s group wants Dayspring Island, a fishing settlement along the estuaries of Calabar River, the second, led by the Chairman of Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State, Dr. Ekpo Bassey, prefers Ikot-Effiom in Ikang.
Ikot-Effiom is located at the present headquarters of the council which was created after the old Bakassi was ceded to Cameroon.
Their argument caused a melodrama during a public hearing organized by the Presidential Committee on the Plight of Bakassi People.
Chairman of the committee and deputy governor of Cross River State, Mr. Efiok Cobham, had to stand up to calm frayed nerves during the session.
In his presentation, Dr. Ambrose Akpanika, who spoke on behalf of the Ita-Giwa group, argued that since the people of Bakassi are predominantly fishermen and farmers, the most sensible thing for the government to do was to resettle them in Dayspring Island 1 and 2.
He said, “It is only appropriate that the people should be resettled in the area which will afford them the opportunity to continue their traditional trade which is fishing.”
But Bassey, who led his group, argued that the Federal Government had long identified Ikang as the ideal place for the resettlement by constructing 300 housing units in the area for the people.
Bassey, who alongside a former member of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Joe Etene and an ex-council chairman, Mr. Ani Esin, said the state government had in recognition of the resettlement of the people in Ikang, passed a law giving legal backing to the resettlement of the people.
However, a member representing Calabar Municipality and Odukpani in the House of Representatives, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, said the fight to reclaim Bakassi from Cameroun should not be seen as over.
In her comments, Ita- Giwa, who noted that the journey for the resettlement of the people started more than 12 years ago, thanked God for sustaining and keeping the people together.
Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, said the Federal Government was committed to finding a lasting solution to Bakassi people’s problems.
He advised the people to take a united position, saying the essence of the visit was to assess the locations suggested by political leaders of the area as the appropriate place for the resettlement of the people.
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