By Victor Ernest
The Cross River state government and a militant group plan to sue the Nigerian government and the International Court of Justice over the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon.
In October 2002, International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the oil-rich peninsula be ceded to Cameroon as agreed by the Nigerian and the Cameroonian governments during the 1967-1970 Nigeria-Biafra Civil War.
Despite promises from the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to resettle the people of Bakassi in a befitting place, they are left to suffer as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in different camps for over twelve years.
Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Aliyu Mohammed, told newsmen during a recent visit to the state, that about N38b has been paid to the state in the past 11 years as part of effort to ease the sufferings of the people.
However, Chief Press Secretary/Special Assistant on Media to Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, said in an interview with Guardian that the ”paltry sum” was nothing compared to what the state government has been spending for the upkeep of the people.
”We have 12 months in a year, so multiply that by 11 years and divide it by N38b, that is when you will know whether that money was meant to achieve anything or not. By the time you finish the calculation per month, you would know that the amount would have become pittance. It is nothing,” he said.
He further said the state government, left with less revenue after the ceding of the oil rich peninsula and the loss of 70 oil wells to Akwa Ibom, has been made to cater for the displaced persons.
”We should be compensated heavily. I know that the governor is even considering taking the Federal Government to court to ask for over N3 trillion damages over the loss of Bakassi Peninsular and its oil wells because no laid down procedure in international law was followed in ceding the area,” he added.
Meanwhile, Counsel to the Bakassi Strike Force (BSF), a militant group in the area, Ozinko Ozinko, also said the group would sue the ICJ on behalf of the Bakassi people, saying the judgment was obtained by fraud.
”They are not sincere. There are lots of interests and politics that come to play at international level. With the new evidence we have, it is clear that the judgment was obtained by fraud. When you obtain judgment by fraud, it is one of the grounds that one can appeal,” he said.