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Obasanjo hands over Bakassi to Cameroun in two months

Posted by By LUCKY NWANKWERE, Abuja on 2006/06/15 | Views: 567 |

Obasanjo hands over Bakassi to Cameroun in two months

The Federal Government would, in the next two months, withdraw Nigerian troops from the disputed Bakassi peninsula and hand over the territory to the Republic of Cameroun, in accordance with the International Court of Justice ruling of October 10, 2002.

The Federal Government would, in the next two months, withdraw Nigerian troops from the disputed Bakassi peninsula and hand over the territory to the Republic of Cameroun, in accordance with the International Court of Justice ruling of October 10, 2002.

Disclosing this, in a national broadcast on Thursday morning, President Olusegun Obasanjo said that this has become necessary since Nigeria is a law-abiding nation. He however said that Nigerians living in the disputed land are free to remain there or relocate to Nigerian territory.

Said he: “On October 10, 2002, the International Court of Justice, ICJ, to which Nigeria had subjected herself, gave its judgment in the matter of the Land and Maritime Boundary Cameroon and Nigeria for which Cameroon had taken the dispute for adjudication by the ICJ. The verdict was given in favour of Cameroun. As a great advocate of the observance of the rule of law nationally and internationally and a great believer in the settlement of disputes peacefully, we accepted the verdict notwithstanding our disappointment.”

President Obasanjo said that based on the agreement between Cameroun and Nigeria on July 12, 2006, the Federal Government would, in the next two months withdraw Nigerian soldiers from Bakassi.

“Nigerian troops will withdraw within the next 60 days after they had fought gallantly to protect lives and properties of Nigerians on the Peninsula and continuously protected them for the last thirteen years. If for any extra-ordinary circumstances there will be need for extra time for Nigerian troops’ withdrawal, the UN Secretary-General will consider and grant not more than 30 days in totality,” he said.

He revealed that “the two islands of Atabong and Abana, which form the Western part of Bakassi Peninsula, will continue to be administered by Nigeria for two years after the withdrawal of Nigerian troops,” adding: “Mobile Police Force will be stationed on the two population centres until cessation of Nigerian administration. In the meantime, the Federal Government with the Cross River State Government will sensitise the Nigerian population in Bakassi to the new political reality of the Peninsula and advise them to make a choice of either being resettled back into Nigeria or remaining as Nigerians resident in Cameroon after the cessation of Nigerian administration.”

Obasanjo said that a special transitional provision would be “put in place for five years for Nigerians after the cessation of Nigerian administration in the Peninsula to enable them to have access, without formalities, to Bakassi with similar access for our law-enforcement agents for investigation.”

He said that Cameroun has pledged not to “force Nigerian nationals living in the Bakassi Peninsula to leave the zone or to change their nationality; respect their culture, language and beliefs; respect their rights to continue their agricultural and fishing activities; protect their property and their customary land rights; not levy, in any discriminatory manner, any taxes and other dues on Nigerian nationals living in the zone; and take every necessary measure to protect Nigerian nationals living in the zone from any harassment on harm.”

President Obasanjo said that Nigerians on the peninsula have the choice to remain there or relocate to Nigeria’s territory. “We have ensured that Nigerians living now on the Peninsula have a choice either to relocate or to remain in Bakassi; whichever choice they make, we have taken adequate measures for their protection, security, welfare and well-being. That was our concern and that we have achieved. Nigeria remains resolute in protecting the interest of its citizens and nationals anywhere they live.”
He expressed thanks to the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Paul Biya of Cameroun and Nigerians for the role they played in the resolution of the crisis.

“I must not end this address without thanking the Nigerian team in the Mixed Commission under the leadership of Prince Bola Ajibola for a job well done so far. I wish them success in the work that lies ahead of them. I will also like to thank the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan, and his personal representative, Mr. Ahmed Ould Abdallah, with his team for a very good job.

I thank President Paul Biya of Cameroon for his patience, understanding and statesmanship. I thank our troops for their gallantry, forbearance, good behaviour and professionalism. I am proud of them. I thank the Governor of Cross River State and his officials and Senator Florence Ita-Giwa for their understanding and support. I thank the Nigerians living in Bakassi for their patience and confidence in us that we will never let them down.”

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