By  Hugo Odiogor
Paramount leader of Bakassi, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet, has petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan demanding that Bakassi should be freed from all contracts and obligations with Nigeria since the latter had failed in its primary constitutional role to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria or uphold the oath of office to protect the people of his kingdom who are being forced into perpetual slavery in Cameroon.

The paramount ruler, who is also Chairman of Cross River State Council of Chiefs, said the declaration by the Federal Government that it would not approach the International Court of Justice to revisit its judgment of October 10, 2002, was an indication that the government does not need the people of Bakassi as component part of the Nigerian Federation and the only option left for the National Assembly was to delist Bakassi as a component unit of Nigeria to enable the people pursue their fate in the new “country” that they are being forced into.

Etinyin Etim Okon Edet and President Jonathan

Dr. Edet, who spoke exclusively to Vanguard in Lagos, said: “The people of Bakassi are being held in bondage by Nigeria, which has divested its interest to listen to the wishes of Bakassi people and to force them into a situation of perpetual refugee status in their own country or to remain in Cameroon as migrants who could be tortured, killed or deported by the Cameroonian authorities that have been pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing since 2008.

He said: “With 19 days to the end of the window given to the Federal Government to appeal for a revision of the International Court of Justice verdict of October 10, 2002, the Federal Government is telling the world that it cannot go back on our appeals to approach the International Court of Justice because according to the FG, ‘Nigeria will be exposing itself to international ridicule to renege on conceding Bakassi to Cameroon for supporting the effort to keep Nigeria one.'”

He said “even when we have fresh evidences to show the world and the International that the World Court to prove that ceding Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon based on the Anglo-German treaty of 1913 and the 1971 Yaoundé 1, 11declarations in 1971 and the Maroua declaration of 1975 was erroneous, the government we had all along believe would protect our territory integrity is telling us to forget our land and our heritage.”

According to Dr. Edet, Bakassi endorse the protest organised by SERAP calling on the Federal Government to grant Bakassi people the right to determine their own fate, we want to leave but the law continued to hinder us because the law pretends that we are Nigerians but we cannot be Nigerians with having a foot hold on our land or concede our land to Cameroon. We have said it clearly that before Nigeria and Cameroon, there was Bakassi, we don’t need Nigeria to define and determine our existence, but one point is clear, today it may be Bakassi to day and Otueke tomorrow, if we are used as sacrificial lamb today, it may be another group tomorrow”

Dr Edet said Bakassi “people have carried out extensive researches and “have found new facts that were not at the disposal of Nigeria’s defence team during the trial. He said “We know that during the trials the Federal Government assembled civil servants, politicians and lawyers mainly from outside the area in contention, the only person from Cross River State was the Attorney General of the State then, while Cameroon came well prepared, our defense team was relying on maps and documents submitted by Cameroon, it was towards the point that judgment was to be delivered that they came to inform us, in effect we did not even had the opportunity for a fair hearing on a matter that our destiny was concerned, in the end the judgment was given against Nigeria at our detriment and Nigerian government wants us to accept that judgment with thanks giving?, go and tell the world that we will reclaim our land.”

He said that the only thing hindering Bakassi people from acting is the Nigerian constitution which hangs over us when in actual fact, Nigeria has said we do not belong to Nigeria, the National Assembly should amend the constitution and expunge the name of Bakassi and the statutory allocation being siphoned by some people should be stopped, because some people are profiting from our misery, without Nigeria we will be free to fight and reclaim our land, the Cameroonians know us very well and we know them as well, we cannot be Cameroonians, go and tell the world that Bakassi people cannot be Cameroonians, we are Efiks and no power on earth can uproot us from our land..

The Controversial Green Tree Treaty

He said we are no longer talking about the GTA which gave the Bakassi people three hard choices namely, the option to:

(a) Remain in Bakassi and become Cameroon Citizens:This has the effect of forcing the people to change their citizenship from that of the Country of birth;

(b) Remain in Bakassi, retain their Nigerian citizenship, but live like immigrants: o? This has the effect of turning the people into strangers in the land y, of birth and subject to deportation;

(c) Retain their Nigerian citizenship and relocate to Nigeria: This has the effect of transforming the people into eternal refugees in Nigeria.

In the letter sent to President Jonathan which was made exclusively available to Vanguard, Etiyin Edet said,  “These are hard options on the surface and very horrible prescriptions in reality. The assumption of the Green Tree Agreement is that the entire family will choose one of the options in unison. The reality is that for the African society of which Bakassi is part, the extended family ties are strong and very essential fabric in the maintenance of social cohesion. Finding unanimity of choice amongst members of the nuclear family is difficult and absolutely impossible among extended family members. So as different members of the family contemplate different options, the family is separated; husband from wife, brother from sister, uncle from niece”.

Reacting to the declaration of the FG that it will not approach the ICJ, Senator Ewah Bassey Henshaw told Vanguard the Bakassi people have other options which they will explore to enforce their fundamental human rights. He said what is playing out is part of the grand conspiracy against Bakassi people, who have over the years being regarded as peaceful people and therefore not capable of complaining about the injustice that has been meted to them  by the same forces that believe that Bakassi people should be scarified for the unity of Nigeria.

Civil war booty

Said Henshaw:“We are aware that the entire Bakassi question is an attempt to use our land and people as booty for the Civil war which is what they did with the Yaoundé 1 and 2 as well as Maroua Declaration which is a ploy to create a new boundary that satisfies the agenda to gratify Cameroon at the expense of Bakassi people. We have since told the world that the original boundary which was inherited at independence was suppressed at during the trial at the World Court. They went to lie that the 1893 boundary did not exist and suppressed vital information that worked against us. We believe that it is our inalienable right to be state our case regardless of the circumstances. According to Senator Henshaw, “even if they Federal Government and the Cameroonian believe that Bakassi people should be exterminated from the surface of the earth, they owe us a duty to be heard as a fundamental human rights issue, it appears that the Federal Government does not recognise these rights or simply believes that we are using Bakassi issue to put pressure on FG to provide money for a few elites, certainly this is a wrong perception and reading of the situation on ground”. V

He said the leaders of Bakassi have fresh evidence to show that the administration of General Yakubu Gowon that altered an existing 1893 agreement between Great Britain and Germany which placed the maritime boundaries between Nigeria and Cameroon at the Rio Del Rey Estuaries, but the Ngo? Coker line has being used to deny Bakassi people of their heritage and eternal identity”.

The Co-ordinator of Save Bakassi Group Mr. Maurice Ekong said it is unfortunate that a democratically elected government does not believe in upholding the sanctity of the oath that it swore to defend the constitution and defend the territorial integrity of its people, we have come to the point where we have to take our fate in our own hands, if China and Japan are contesting uninhabited islands, why must we give up our own land and identity?


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