Bakassi: Ball now in GEJ’s court
By Ochereome Nnanna
Fresh facts that will guarantee the restoration of Bakassi Peninsula to Nigeria have been abundantly established.
Vanguard Newspapers has shouted itself hoarse over the past weeks with these facts backed up with informed opinions from a variety of well-meaning Nigerians, calling upon the Federal Government of Nigeria to take action and reopen this case at the International Court of Justice, ICJ, before the 10-year window closes forever on October 10, 2012.
Let me sum up some of these fresh facts. It has been established that the so-called 1913 Anglo-German Agreement, based on which the ICJ gave its verdict against Nigeria, was invalid because it was not signed before Germany forfeited its colonial right to Cameroun in 1917. General Yakubu Gowon unpatriotically, even treasonably, entered the Maroua Accord with Cameroun giving away the territory in exchange for our eastern neighbour’s cooperation in the blockade against Biafra during the war. The “Accord” was never sent to the Supreme Military Council for ratification.
Our lawyers were sent by the Olusegun Obasanjo regime of 1999 to 2007, to collude with their Camerounian counterparts to hinge their arguments on an invalid 1913 Treaty in order to sanctify the forfeiture of the Peninsula to a foreign country.
The president signed a Green Tree Agreement with Cameroon, and it was never brought to the National Assembly for ratification. The Constitution of Nigeria has never been amended to certify that indeed Nigeria has given up Bakassi. Therefore, in the eyes of all the laws of Nigeria, Bakassi remains part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It has also been well illustrated that Bakassi was part of the territory that Britain handed over to Nigeria at Independence in 1960.
The plebiscite which enabled Western Cameroun (Mamfe, Kumba, Bamenda and Victoria Provinces) and Adamawa Province in the North to decide whether they wanted to belong to Nigeria or Cameroun was never held in Bakassi. Cameroun never laid claim to Bakassi before the war.
All these facts were never tendered before the ICJ. Nigerian lawyers, paid with oil money from the Niger Delta, colluded with foreigners to give away a vital part of the same Niger Delta!
When Camerounian gendarmes attacked Nigerians on the Peninsula in 1994, General Sani Abacha sent Nigerian troops to repel the invaders. His government requested from Britain its stand on whether Bakassi Peninsula belonged to Nigeria or Cameroun. Britain confirmed it belonged to Nigeria. Based on this, Abacha defended the territory.
GEJ and verdict of history
Now, the ball is in the court of President Goodluck Jonathan to reclaim Bakassi. He swore on the constitution to defend the nation and its people. Bakassi people, in line with pervasive, united South-South solidarity, voted for him.
GEJ owes it a duty because Bakassi is part of his home zone, the South-South portion of the Niger Delta. Gowon and Obasanjo sold out to Cameroun in their war against the former Eastern Region. They were determined to permanently cripple the area’s capacity to stand up for their vital interests.
History will judge them, but in doing so, it will take judicial notice of the fact that being Northerners and Westerners, they felt no personal sense of loss of a vital part of the former Eastern Region. It is nothing to them that Calabar no longer has a seaport.
My Great Uncle, Mma Agbagha, was a shipping magnate in Calabar and environs during the World War II. It takes something away from me that an area that helped prosper my family has been sold out to another country!
Surely, Jonathan should be perturbed that in his time as President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a part of the South-South in the Niger Delta was lost forever to Cameroun when there were abundant facts and resources to help prevent this.
If he does not do anything and October 10, 2012 passes, he will be furiously held to account by Nigerians, especially the people of South East and South-South whose primary mandate made it possible for him to win the 2011 presidential election.
Come to think of it! Where is “South-South Leader”, Chief Edwin Clark in all this? For some curious reason, the usually outspoken, Ijaw National Leader has kept his peace over the Bakassi debacle.
Or is it because Bakassi, not being an Ijaw territory, is not a part of his idea of “real” South-South? Are we seeing a repeat of the same attitude of selective pursuit of South-South interests, whereby only areas or people he favours in the zone will enjoy his energetic protection, while those not favoured will either ignored or directly confronted?
I ask this question, bearing in mind that when Dr Peter Odili was running for President, Chief Clark called a summit of the non-Igbo speaking groups in Calabar (yes! Calabar, the owners of Bakassi Peninsula!). There, he declared that when the South-South agitated for the president of Nigeria they were not asking for an “Igbo Man” to be given the privilege. Odili, a self-described “Rivers Man” suddenly got called an “Igbo Man” because he seemed the front-runner for president then.
I was expecting Chief Clark, if he really is the South-South’s National Leader, to call a summit of the zone and forcefully table before the Federal Government a demand for a return to the ICJ with the fresh facts that will return Bakassi Peninsula to the South-South and Nigeria.
Perhaps, President Jonathan would listen to him even if he ignored the National Assembly, the media and Nigerians calling for positive action on Bakassi. Perhaps it is only when the North threatens GEJ’s presidency that Clark suddenly remembers there is more to South-South than Ijaw and calls a summit. But when the spoils of South-South struggles come, they go to only one ethnic group.
If Clark won’t speak up for Bakassi, younger, more patriotic and less myopic Ijaw leaders like Chief Asari Dokubo should come forward. We must make the President act. He has only two weeks to do so!