BY SONI DANIEL & HUGO ODIOGOR
ABUJA— Aggrieved natives of Bakassi Peninsula yesterday stormed Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory in a bid to convince the Federal Government to take necessary steps to review the International Court of Justice ruling that ceded the oil-rich area to Cameroun 10 years ago.
But neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, was in Abuja to listen to the embattled Bakassi indigenes, who claimed to have been armed with new incontrovertible facts to aid the government in pressing for the reversal of the ICJ judgement in Nigeria’s favour.
Both Jonathan and the AGF are in New York for the first-ever High-Level Plenary Session of the United Nations on the Rule of Law, which opened on Monday.
The Bakassi indigenes pointed out that the information at their disposal was enough to swing the ICJ to reverse its October 10, 2002 ruling in favour of Nigeria and pleaded with President Jonathan not to listen to the enemies of Nigeria who claim that the issue had been laid to rest.
The Coordinator of the ‘Save Bakassi Group’ in the FCT, Mr. Solomon Inameti, told Vanguard that they were ready to assist the Federal Government with fresh evidence that was not available at the time of the judgment.
Inameti said, “we have 100 new information and we are ready to give to the Nigerian Government to use and approach the ICJ and conveniently pursue this case to a logical conclusion.
“To the best of our knowledge, the evidence is concrete enough to secure us victory at the ICJ and the Federal Government can take us for our words.
“We went out of our way to secure this vital information that was not there before to assist the Federal Government because we believe that it is in our own interest to continue to remain in Nigeria.
“Let us make it categorically clear that no matter what happens we will not accept Cameroun as our own country. Subjugating us to Cameroun would not only be humiliating but dehumanizing to us and our generations yet unborn.
“Anyone who thinks that we the people of Bakassi can come under Cameroun is wasting time because that will not work. We are ready to go to the United Nations and seek a referendum on where we want to be and how we should be administered.
“If the Federal Government of Nigeria does not want us we will approach the UN at the end of October 10, 2012 to seek the way forward for ourselves and our respective communities in Bakassi,” Inameti said.
FG should reclaim Bakassi
A historian, who is very familiar with the Bakassi history, Mr. Emmanuel Doh, said the AGF had no reason to hesitate in approaching the ICJ for the immediate review of the 2002 judgement given the weight of evidence now at his disposal.
Doh pointed out that Cameroun even committed a serious blunder by the way and manner it adjusted the boundary between it and Southern Cameroon encompassing Bakassi, after the African Union had asked all countries to respect their boundaries with other nations.
Doh said Cameroun’s fraudulent boundary adjustment coupled with numerous actions, which the UN and the ICJ were not aware of at the time of the ruling in 2002, were enough to swing judgment in Nigeria’s favour, if a review was sought.
A member of the House of Representatives from Cross River State, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, warned yesterday that it was in the interest of the government of Nigeria to take urgent legal steps to reclaim Bakassi, as the people of the area would never surrender their fate to another country.
Toyo, who is a former Nigeria’s envoy to Ethiopia, said the Bakassi people would continue to fight for the territory until their rights were restored.
The lawmaker maintained that the people were hit below the belt when the AGF declared recently that Nigeria was not going to ask for a review of the ICJ judgment, a development, she claimed smacks of insensitivity on the part of the government.
She noted, “The people of Bakassi have always been demanding a review of the judgment. But unfortunately, former President Olusegun Obasanjo adopted a unilateral approach towards it.
“You will recall that Obasanjo did not bring up the matter to the National Assembly, the National Boundary Commission has not adjusted the boundary despite the ruling, the Bakassi Local Government is still in Cross River State and it is still being paid monthly subvention by the Federal Government.
“So there are many illegal things still going on as far as the issue of Bakassi is concerned. But the Bakassi people have never had a chance to decide for themselves where they want to go and how they want to be administered,” the lawmaker said.
It could not be established last night whether the government would accept the new evidence being claimed by the Bakassi natives and use it to press for a review of the judgment before the expiration of the deadline on October 10.