By Ushang Ewa
The end of the plight of returnees of the Bakassi peninsula and the historic judgment of the International Court of Justice which ceded the peninsula to the Cameroons is not near in sight as the Director General of the Nigerian Boundary Commission (NBC), Adamu Adaji says the final demarcation will happen by 2022.
16 out of 20 articles of agreement have been resolved by the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC), which is handling the exercise, Mr. Adaji told journalists on Monday.
The Punch Newspapers quotes Mr. Adaji as saying that over a thousand pillars have been erected along the boundaries between the two countries, adding that the affected communities had also been resettled. He dismissed as untrue reports that Nigeria would lose several communities and local governments areas to Cameroon.
Mr. Adaji said the negotiations of the mixed commission stalled for a while due to “factors beyond our control,” but added that there has been “appreciable progress.”
“We had the meeting of the Nigeria-Cameroon on the boundary demarcation some years back but because of factors beyond our control, we could not hold a meeting for a long while until just last month.
“We had the 33rd session. We agreed that the 34th session would hold in Abuja in the middle of 2022. It is for us to review the progress, we have made so much progress.
“We are almost rounding off except that in the course of the conduct of the exercise, there are some areas that were skipped due to security challenges; there were some areas that were skipped due to the exact interpretation of the text of the (World Court) judgment.
“We have been able to close ranks: We started with over 20 or so disagreement areas, we have only four that are still outstanding, and we have earmarked programs to undertake in 2022 to harvest those four,” he stated.
The CNMC would produce a map that would show the communities along the boundary corridors, with specific delineations, at the end of the demarcation exercise, the NBC boss said.
He noted, “The beauty of the Nigerian-Cameroon (border) is that the communities shared so much in common, and it is just the artificial boundary that is separating them, and they are not seeing that as a barrier plus they interact and relate very well and that’s the spirit of Africa. We want to promote that.”
He said the United Nations working in conjunction with Nigeria and Cameroon had assessed the needs of the border communities as part of programs to properly integrate them.
Mr. Adaji revealed that his agency has resolved over 30 boundary disputes between states and communities in the country, adding that some states were unwilling to cooperate with the commission on account of the natural resources in the disputed areas.
Following a lengthy dispute, the ICJ handed the oil Bakassi peninsula to the Cameroons in 2002. Nigeria had a 10-year window to appeal the judgment but failed to do so under the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration in 2012.
The natives were given the option of staying or returning to Nigeria. And, to prevent cases of rights abuse, the Green Tree Agreement was signed. However, reports have suggested that the Cameroonian gendarmerie has continuously abused Nigerians following incursions into Nigerian waterways near Archibong Town in Cross River.
The ceding meant Cross River lost its status as a littoral State. And, to resettle returnees, different camps were built and have continued to be built with the sharing often subjected to political patronage, leaving the real returnees to suffer.
A new Bakassi Local Government Area was carved out of the Ikang north, central and south wards of Akpabuyo Local Government Area by the Cross River State Government.
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