BARELY 24 hours to the expiration of the window of opportunity to appeal against the International court of Justice, ICJ, ruling that ceded the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in October 10, 2002, there are influx of stern looking men believed to be security operatives from Cameroon
The increased presence of security operatives from Cameroon according to Nigerian Sources at the island was to ensure that the country takes absolute control of the area following Nigeria’s failure to appeal against the judgment or call for a review.
The Sources also claimed that in the past few weeks, Nigerian indigenes resident at the disputed island have not been able to reach at their relations in Nigeria through phone calls, while the Cameroon government had infiltrated families of Nigerians at the area causing division among them.
A highly placed Bakassi Local Government Council official who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity alleged that some Nigerians doing business at the Peninsula had complained of harassment by the Cameroon security agents.
The official also said that there had been many strange faces suspected to be security personnel coming in groups in preparation of taking complete control of the place.
Meanwhile, President of Academic Staff Union of Universities, Dr. Nasir Isa has said that Nigeria made a mistake in handling the matter and that the federal government also made a great mistake by committing herself to hand over Bakassi to Cameroon, adding that children in Bakassi have the right to decide where to belong.
Adoke said the Nigerian government was determined to protect the interests of the local population “including negotiations aimed at buying back the territory.”
However, Cameroonian government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary said recently “Bakassi is Cameroon and this is non-negotiable.”
Tension remains high in the swampy region, which is home to several armed groups. A movement called the Bakassi Self-Determination Front declared independence from Cameroon in August, hosting a flag and setting up an FM radio station. It is not clear how much support it has.
Vincent Aquah, chairman of the Cross Rivers State Emergency Management Agency told DW there were indications that the Bakassi people were being forced to leave their homeland. “From the stories they tell us, there is a high degree of hostility from the Cameroonian gendarmes.”
DW’s Moki Kindzeka says the inhabitants of Bakassi were given five years, under the Green Tree agreement between Cameroon and Nigeria, to decide whether they wanted to become Cameroonians or remain Nigerians.
Sam Olukoya, a DW correspondent in Lagos, says that former Bakassi residents who have already fled their homeland for Nigeria face a tough time.
In the area where the Nigerian government is resettling them, there is a lack of basic facilities such as shelter, water and health care. There are also problems of adjustment. “They are being resettled on dry land where fishing, their traditional occupation is not possible,” he says.
Source: Vanguard Newspapers