By Ben Agande & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Federal Government, yesterday, urged Camerounian authorities to investigate allegations of maltreatment meted against indigenes of Bakassi Peninsula, in the interest of peace and continued harmonious relationship between the two countries.
This came as government announced the constitution of a committee to explore possibilities of resettling the people of Bakassi who lost their ancestral land following the ceding of their territory to Cameroun by the International Court of Justice.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, in his address at the opening of the 30th session of the Cameroun-Nigeria Mixed-Commission, CNMC, yesterday, maintained that “the effect of this allegation and the political pressure they engender cannot be overemphasized as they impact profoundly on the level of public confidence between the government and its citizens.”
Stressing determination of Nigeriato continue to honour its international obligations, Adoke said: “We, therefore, call on the Camerounian authorities in the spirit of Article 4 of the Green tree Agreement, and other International Human Right Instruments to which our two countries are signatories, to urgently investigate and take measures to address these concerns.
This is important as it would provide the enabling political environment for the activities of the CNMC and the Follow-Up Committee, as well as strengthen the hand of government in its resolve to faithfully implement the ICJ judgement.
“The meetings of the Cameroun-Nigeria Mixed Commission, CNMC, whether hosted byNigeriaorCamerounhave over time afforded our delegations the opportunity to renew acquaintances with our good friends and brothers fromCamerounand the United Nations.”
FG moves to resettle those willing to return to Nigeria
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, yesterday, announced the constitution of a committee to explore possibilities of resettling the people of Bakassi.
The resettling of the people of the region is one of the options being considered in addressing on a permanent basis, the problem of the people of the region.
The committee which was set up by Vice President Namadi Sambo is headed by the acting Governor of Cross River State, Effiok Essien Cobham and is charged with the responsibility of looking into all the modalities necessary for the resettlement process and has three months to submit its report.
It will be recalled that following the national outrage that greeted the final ceeding of the territory toCameroun, President Goodluck Jonathan set up a committee under the chairmanship of the Vice President, Namadi Sambo.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, Cobham said the committee was charged by the vice president to take a holistic view of the problems.
According to him, the committee’s work involves the development of an entirely new settlement so as to find a lasting solution to the plight of the displaced people and settle them permanently.
“Basically we discussed the issue of the resettlement of the displaced people of Bakassi and of course the Vice President in his wisdom has constituted a committee to look into the issues and the issues are quiet many, with me as a Chairman and the membership stretches between the Federal and State officials including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so that we can comprehensively look at the issues affecting the people of Bakassi and then submit a report to the Vice President on or before the end of February 2013.
“For now, the Bakassi people, a large number of them are talking about a new settlement outside the camp for which they are presently settled. They want a location that will be opened to the sea since they are basically riverine people. So, that involve the development of an entirely new settlement.”
In her reaction, Senator Ita-Giwa described the setting up of the committee by the vice president as a welcome development, which according to her will help restore the dignity of the people of Bakassi.
“Today is one of the happiest days for me as leader of the Bakassi people because it shows thatNigeriais working, it shows that the Presidency is working. I did a very voluminous petition to the Presidency and this meeting is the outcome of my appeal for the Presidency to come to the aid of the suffering masses of Bakassi and Iâ€™m very, very happy that, in fact a very positive pronouncement and a committee has been put in place which if these matters are addressed that will now bring succor to the people of Bakassi,”
Other members who attended yesterday meeting included the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, DG National Boundary Commission, Executive Secretary Border Community Development Agency and Senator Florence Ita-Giwa.