By Soni Daniel & Ben Agande
Abuja – BARELY 24 hours to the expiration of the window for Nigeria to seek a review of the 2002 International Court of Justice ruling on Bakassi Peninsula, Nigeria appears lost over what to do over the matter.
It was confusion galore throughout yesterday as top government functionaries and political leaders in the country made frantic attempts to know what exactly the government had done about the review of the case.
The confusion heightened principally because of the inability of the eight-man committee raised last Thursday by President Goodluck Jonathan to advise the administration on how to go about the assignment.
A Senator from Cross River State, who had earlier convened a meeting with other members, reportedly left for his home town after a futile effort to meet with the head of the committee for serious deliberation.
The lawmaker reported back yesterday and was said to be making another attempt to summon another round of meetings with other members. One vital member of the committee was said to be unavailable as at the time of this report.
A member of the House of Representatives from Cross River State, Amb Nkoyo Toyo, regretted the seeming frustration the people had been exposed to in their effort to get the ICJ ruling reviewed.
According to Toyo, it was all too obvious that the committee was tailored to fail so that the ruling would not be reviewed in the interest of the Bakassi people.
She said that the Bakassi Support Group had carefully prepared its brief and was ready to submit it to the committee once it was ready to leave for The Hague.
The lawmaker said: “We have concrete documents to give to the Federal Government on the Bakassi issue but we can only give it to the committee set up by the Government on the condition that they are ready to proceed to The Hague.
“Our position on the Bakassi issue is good enough to warrant a review and we will make it public any time from now to enable Nigerians see the new facts at our disposal and to prove those who claim that there is no new evidence wrong.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, SAN, who was earlier said to be preparing to address the media on the Bakassi issue, did not do so at the time of this report.
However, as the confusion over the matter heightened, the government moved to douse the tension generated over the issue.
Jonathan addresses nation today
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, announced that President Goodluck Jonathan would today address the nation on a wide range of issues.
Although Abati did not specify any particular issue to be addressed by Mr. President, it was learnt that the Bakassi issue would top the range of issues to be touched by Jonathan.
The address may justify why Nigeria would not be seeking a review as earlier declared by top government officials.
In a statement in Abuja, Dr. Abati advised all radio and Television stations to hook up to the Nigeria Television Authority and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria for the broadcast.
Though the reason for the broadcast was not given, Vanguard gathered that the broadcast would dwell on the contentious Bakassi Penisula and other national issues.
If Nigeria decides not to seek a review of the judgment, Bakassi would revert forever to Cameroun at midnight tomorrow.
However, the fact that the National Assembly is yet to ratify the Green Tree Agreement, under which Nigeria handed over the Peninsula to Cameroun, raises another dilemma for the deal.
There are hopes that the United Nations may step in and ask Cameroun to wait for some time before the Peninsula reverts to it in order to give Nigeria the opportunity to sort out some outstanding issues, chief among them, the demarcation of the area and the resettlement of the displaced natives.
Sources told Vanguard the Federal Government is not convinced that it has sufficient facts to ask for a review in spite of the claims by indigenes of Bakassi, the facts presented by scholars and researchers. The position of scholars and researchers is that the Memorandum of Facts presented by Cameroon was indeed a memorandum of falsehood.. They argue that the ICJ was misled into believing the there was no maritime boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon whereas there were marked and demarcated boundaries that were well documented.
At press time, the Eight man committee led by Mr. Adoke had not reconvened after it broke up on Saturday as the AGF was not convinced that the committee has any fact to present but Vanguard learnt that the AGF which had a verbal altercation with the Attorney General of Cross River State, was not in the frame of mind to resume with the work which he had been most reluctant to take up.
A member of the Committee told Vanguard that the AGF had made a U-turn yesterday to request that the facts available should be brought to his office. This prompted Bakassi people to request that the International Lawyer should send her brief to Nigeria to the AGF