By Jonathan Ugbal
The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla has accused the Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on national assembly matters, Ita Giwa of hypocrisy for alleging President Buhari has neglected the displaced people of Bakassi.
Obla who took to Facebook Wednesday to express angst at the statement credited to Ita-Giwa, said there is a difference between the travails of people in the north eastern part of the country and Bakassi and wondered why the former senator and current chairman of the Bakassi deep seaport authority will accuse the president of what she could have prevented having been in the corridors of power when the decisions were taken of which she could have influenced and lobby positive outcomes for the Bakassi indigenes.
“In October 2002 the International Court of Justice at the Hague delivered its judgment over a case filed by the Republic of Cameroon against Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea concerning the maritime boundary between these three neighbouring countries and awarded the sovereignty of the Bakassi peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon. Recall that in 2002, Senator Giwa was an influential member of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Cross River South (which Bakassi was an integral part).
“What was role of Senator Giwa in all this? What was her intervention? In September 2005, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo signed the so called Green Tree Treaty at the instance of the United Nations and other Western Powers and the United States of America with the Republic of Cameroon for the implementation of the 2002 judgment of the International Court of Justice on Bakassi. At that time, Senator Giwa was the Special Adviser to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo on National Assembly Matters! What advice did she give on the matter? What was role on the matter? What was her intervention? Did she played the ostrich because she was then in the corridor of power? Was she aware that the Federal Government gave money to then Cross River State under the then Governor Donald Duke! What role did Senator Giwa play to ensure these funds are judicious managed and applied to resolve the matter concerning re settlement of people displaced by the Bakassi.
“I know that in 2008 or thereabouts, the Federal government in conjunction with the Cross River State Government constituted a Bakassi Resettlement Committee and Senator Giwa was appointed Chairman! I know that a huge sum money was budgeted for the resettlement problem in Bakassi! How was this money spent? Was it judiciously used? Where is the Report of the Bakassi Resettlement Committee? Senator Giwa must tell us something about this Committee because she was in charge!
“Under the Statutes of the International Court of Justice there is ten years window for review of its judgments by either party for one reason or the other! These ten years window expired in October 2012 but Nigeria failed woefully to take advantage of this golden opportunity! At this time, Senator Giwa was an influential Senior Member of the then PDP Federal Government under the leadership of the then President Goodluck Jonathan in her capacity as a Director of the lucrative Nigerians Port Authority! Where was Senator Ita? Did she bring her clout and influence on the Federal government to bear to do the needful!
“I know that the Federal Government made a grant of billions of Naira at the intervention of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission to the government of Cross River State to alleviate the financial loss suffered by the State arising out of the loss of the sovereignty of Bakassi by Nigeria and the 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State! Where was the intervention of Senator Giwa to ensure that huge amount of money is judiciously managed to cater for the interest of the people of Bakassi? Did she played the ostrich because she was close to the corridors of power? Contrary to the position of Senator Giwa, the Federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari has undertaken of diplomatic engagement to resolve the issue of Bakassi peninsula? Why is Senator Giwa hypocritical crying wolf?” Obla said.
A national daily, DAILY POST on July 25, 2016 in a report titled “Buhari only rebuilding North East, neglecting other regions – Ita-Giwa” had reported that the PDP chieftain in a statement signed by herself alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari was only focused on rebuilding the damage done by insurgents in the north east while other regions are suffering.
Brandishing the Buhari administration as “insensitive” Ita-Giwa also claimed that 11 years after the 2005 Green Tree Accord, over 4,000 Bakassi indigenes still suffer, adding that “As far as I know, Bakassi Local Government Area is still in Cross River and it is constitutionally catered for like every other council areas but sadly we have been neglected. Even the host community has suffered a lot of inconveniences and they are not being encouraged in any way with social facilities.
“The Buhari administration is busy rebuilding the North East but feel so unconcerned about the Bakassi people In spite of the fact that our situation existed before Boko Haram.
“Did we commit a crime by choosing to remain in our fatherland? Why rebuild North East and abandon Bakassi? My people are refugees and they should be rehabilitated.”
Ita-Giwa’s allegation came a year and 1 week after Governor Ben Ayade had told the country representative of the United Nations House Community for Refugees, Angele Dikongue in his office that after the state was done with its economic challenges, it will take up the Bakassi issue again.
As reported by CrossRiverWatch, Ayade said “The United Nations must hear it loud and clear that it is an unsettled issue as there is no amount of dollars that can settle this and at the fullness of time, when the state is through with her economic challenges, they (Bakassi) will be back on the table, they will be back before the UN to ask for a plebiscite, they will be back before the UN to ask for what is fair and right; that the people of Bakassi have a right to choose where they want to live.
“As we speak today, there is a split between Cross River and Akwa Ibom states as to where they belong, there is a split between some parts of Cameroon, Ikang and Bakassi and there is no way a people can be reduced to that level of want in spirit and in body”.
He had earlier said that, “We have a moral and emotional burden to express some concerns, fears, agony and pains we have encountered in the course of our struggle as a small nation state within the nation state of Nigeria. The people of Bakassi and the people of Cross River state are indeed pained and hurt by the way and manner that a part of us has been ceded out.
“Rightly put in the way and manner you (Angele Dikongue) earlier put it, we have reduced our people, the people of Bakassi to be near stateless people, a people whose heritage, a people whose lifestyle, a people whose original means of living has been completely taken, a people whose fundamental human rights have been trampled upon, a people who were never consulted either by referendum or plebiscite to ask where they choose to belong, a people whose faith was decided in the high tables of cities where they know not, whose course the world has altered, their spirit and soul cries.
“There is no amount of peanuts, no amount of food, no amount of shelter that you provide that will reverse the hurt. The right thing is to allow a man the fundamental right to choose whom he intends to associate with, where he belongs and how he chooses to live”.
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