Citizenship war as Bakassi Peninsula Nigerians threaten Cameroon

By Konye Obaji Ori

Posted on October 3, 2012 06:09

Nigerians from the Bakassi Peninsula who were forced by an international ruling to become Cameroonians have threatened war if Nigeria does not appeal against the decision.

The oil-rich Bakassi is now controlled by Cameroon following the transfer of sovereignty from Nigeria as a result of a judgment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2002.

The ruling forced Nigerians living in the peninsular to become Cameroonians. But the Nigerians say they want to remain under Nigerian authority.

But with a week left before the window for an appeal lapses, the Nigerian government is yet to utilise this option.

Cakebird Development Cooperation (CDC) warned the failure by the government to appeal could lead to war.

Calabar Anglican church bishop Retired Reverend Tunde Adeleye on Tuesday advised the government to speed up the appeal to avoid conflict.

The bishop whose warning coincided with Nigeria’s 52nd independence anniversary said people in the peninsular were not afraid of war.

CDC claimed the Cameroonian authorities would have prepared against any form of perceived insubordination by Nigerians –turned Cameroonians in Bakassi.

“The war might be sparked by aggrieved Nigerians, who might be attacked by the Cameroonian authorities,” CDC chairman Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu told reporters in Calabar, Cross River State on Tuesday.

Jideofo-Ogbuagu accused passed Nigerian leaders of conniving to sell the peninsula and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan of succumbing to pressure from those former leaders.

“Assisted by some foreign powers, Cameroon is waiting for action, whereas there are powers somewhere in the country campaigning that the wicked sale of Bakassi should be forgotten,” he said.

Whilst the peninsula is commonly described as “oil-rich”, no commercially viable deposits of oil have yet been discovered.

But the area has aroused considerable interest from oil companies in the light of the discovery of rich reserves of high grade crude oil elsewhere in Nigeria.

At least eight multinational oil companies have participated in the exploration of the peninsula and its offshore waters.

During the European scramble for Africa, Queen Victoria, according to historical records, signed a Treaty of Protection with the king and chiefs “Old Calabar”, on 10 September 1884. 

The territory however became de facto part of the Republic of Nigeria, although the border was never permanently delineated. 

However, documents released by Cameroon, corroborated by those from Britain and German, placed Bakassi under Cameroonian territory as a result of colonial era Anglo-German agreements.

In 1961, however, Southern Cameroon voted to leave Nigeria and become a part of Cameroon, but Bakassi Peninsula remained under the Nigerian administration until the ICJ ruling of 2002.

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