*As Green Tree Agreement Unsigned 15 Years After
BY SOLOMON AYADO and AHURAKA ISAH, Abuja
The Senate has commenced an exploratory probe into the heinous killing of ninety seven Nigerians killed during an attack in Bakassi by Cameroonian gendarmes over alleged non-payment of a discriminatory boat levy of N100,000.
This is coming just as the peace agreement otherwise known as Green Tree Agreement entered into between Nigeria and Cameroon is yet to be ratified, fifteen years after. The agreement was meant for the withdrawal of Nigerian troops and to amicably cede the Bakasi Peninsula to the Cameroons.
The Senate is deeply moved that several Nigerians are being killed in Bakassi unjustly and that scores are traumatized by suddenly finding themselves as foreigners in their natural and ancestral homes. It however, directed NEMA to immediately provide relief materials to the Bakassi returnees.
LEADERSHIP reports that the ownership of Bakassi Peninsula became contentious following the treaties from 1885 between Britain, Germany and France over the boundary between Nigerian and Cameroonian countries.
It will be recalled that on March 29th, 1994, the Cameroonian government took the boundary issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and on October 10th, 2002, the case was ruled in favor of Camerooun.
During plenary, Senators became obviously infuriated over the continued gruesome murder of Nigerians in the contending land and called on the Cameroon to immediately desist from the unwarranted act and respect the provisions of the peace agreement.
Leading the debate in a motion tagged ‘Bakassi Indigenes in Diaspora in the Cameroon,’ Senator Rose Okoji Oko (Cross River North) explained that indigenes of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states have settled in the Bakassi area for generations and there was no justification forcefully evicting and or maiming them.
According to Oko, a large number of Bakassi indigenes in the Cameroon are returning to Nigerian in grave distress and that the killings by gendarmes violates article 3(2) of the peace agreement between the two countries.
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North-West) concurred that the Bakassi Peninsula has become a criminal den while insisting that Nigeria government has failed in its responsibility to protect lives and ensure welfare of the citizenry as enshrined in Section 14(2) of the constitution.
Consequently, the Senate resolved that the federal government should urgently come up with a clear policy on the protection of indigenes in the Diaspora and to quickly sign the Green Tree Agreement with the Cameroon.