Senate asks Jonathan to “immediately” appeal Bakassi ceding

Bakassi penninsula

Senate president David Mark is to send a letter to President Jonathan calling for urgent action.

In a decision that may unnerve the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, the Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution urging an immediate appeal against the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroun, a day after President Goodluck Jonathan said the decision stands.

Senators overwhelmingly rejected the International Court of Justice’s ruling on Bakassi, and criticized Mr. Jonathan’s commitment to it at a debate that appeared to unfurl a decade-old frustration with the ruling.

Mr. Jonathan, who is attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on Tuesday, reaffirmed Nigeria’s approval of the ruling in a conciliatory speech that has sparked condemnations back home.

Separately, government officials have also hinted at the administration’s disinterest with reopening the final appeal window on the case which shuts October 10.

Senate president, David Mark, said on Wednesday that Mr. Jonathan’s position notwithstanding, it should be made clear that Nigeria has rejected the ruling. Mr. Mark said he will personally dispatch a letter to the president to underscore the urgency of the case.

“In spite of what the president said at the UN, we still have not accepted the ICJ judgment, though we obeyed it as a law-abiding nation,” Mr. Mark said. “There is a lot of pressure at home and we will revisit the letters and see what we can do. From our own side, we reject the judgment.”

If the president chooses to act on the resolution, he now has two weeks to mandate his officials to institute the appeal on the premise of fresh evidences backing Nigeria’s claim to the territory.

The president has barely emerged from an embarrassing currency restructuring episode in which he reneged on, after intense public outcry and the National Assembly.

Foremost writer, Elechi Amadi, on Tuesday called for the president’s impeachment if he failed to order the appeal.

“I cringe with sheer horror at the fact that the federal government can abandon without qualms, a group of Nigerians large enough to make up a Local Government Area which is recognized in the constitution,” Mr. Elechi said in Port Harcourt.

At an arousing session Wednesday, the senate said the process leading to the eventual ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon in 2006 by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration was illegal and unconstitutional.

The resolution came through a motion moved by the Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi. Senators criticized the transfer that made no effort at seeking the consent of the people.

“If the Nigerian state cannot protect the state, the Senate should do so. We must have another look at the treaty making process, with the ongoing constitution review. Let us take advantage of the window which Article 61 provides”, Victor Ndoma-Egba, Senate Leader said.

Even with an appeal, some lawmakers feared a dithering federal government with hands literally forced on the case, may opt for a shoddy representation.

“We have barely less than two weeks for an appeal and we have two options; one is to appeal the judgment while the second option is to go back to Bakassi and repossess it,” said Heineken Lokpoibiri, who represents Bayelsa state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gga.kwaghe Gga Vandi Kwaghe

    So it took the senate six years to realise that what happened in bakasi was unacceptable and unfair to the people of bakasi ? Or is it because of the “loss of oil field” cross river state did to Akwa-ibom state , that suddenly it’s senators woke up from their slumber ? After suddenly faced with the fact that “cross river has lost its status of an oil producing state ! ” Hypocrites , if only you had love for the bakasi people all this would have been avoided . Now. You are fighting for the money eh ? I wish you all the best but just know that we are not fooled . I pray you all have the new zeal and may God bless the people of bakasi .

  • OKOI OBONO-OBLA

    The decision of the Senate yesterday directing the Federal
    Government of Nigeria to take steps to immediately to initiate the process to
    file an application at the International Court of
    Justice for a review of its judgment delivered on the 10/10/2002 concerning
    the Land and Maritime Boundary Between Cameroon and Nigeria (Equatorial Guinea
    Intervening) is indeed a very good development. Recall that the House of
    Representatives passed a similar resolution directing the Federal Government of
    Nigeria to apply for a review of the obnoxious judgment of the International
    Court of Nigeria delivered on the 10th October 2002 concerning the sovereignty
    of the Bakassi peninsula. However the Federal Government through the Minister
    of Information, Labaran Maku dismissed the resolution of the House of
    Representatives as non binding.

    This stance of the Minister of Information, Honourable Maku drew
    the ire of the Senate which invited the Minister to the floor of the Senate to
    warn him on his predilection to making reckless utterances on matters of
    national importance. It appears that Honourable Maku ate his words after the
    rebuking by the President of the Senate, David Mark as he apologised profusely.
    However it seems the executive branch of the Federal Government under President
    Jonathan is not really keen in complying with the resolutions of the House of
    Representatives and Senate respectively. Just two days ago while addressing the
    General Assembly of the Heads of States and Governments of the United Nations
    categorically declared that the Federal Government of Nigeria shall continue to
    obey the Judgment of the International Court of Justice concerning Bakassi
    Peninsula.

    It is pertinent that both the House of Representatives and the
    Senate respectively constitute the National Assembly by virtue of Section 47 of
    the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended &
    altered). The National Assembly is
    constitutionally empowered by Section 4
    (2) of the Constitution to make laws for the peace, order and good government
    of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in
    the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this
    Constitution.

    The declaration of President Jonathan at such an August Assembly
    like the General Assembly of the United Nations is particularly worrisome in
    view of the fact that it is the executive branch of the Federal Government that
    is constitutionally empowered to take decision whether or not the country
    should apply for a review of the judgment of the International Court of
    Justice. Meanwhile we have just about 14 days or so to the expiry of the ten
    years deadline which a State Party has to apply for a review of the Judgment of
    the International Court of Justice by virtue of Article 61 of the States of the
    International Court of Justice.

    The pertinent question is: Are the resolutions of both Houses of
    the National Assembly binding on the Federal Government of Nigeria? Are the
    resolutions of both Houses of the National Assembly binding on the Federal
    Government of Nigeria? The answer is in the negative. Resolutions of the
    National Assembly are not binding on the Federal Government or the executive
    branch of government. They do not have the force of law. There are merely
    declarations of intent or moral suasions.

    These resolutions do not have the force of law. The Federal
    Government may take advantage of this to ignore the resolutions of the National
    Assembly on review of the judgment concerning the Bakassi Peninsula. It is
    certain that the non-compliance with the resolutions of the National Assembly
    on challenge of the judgment of the International Court of Justice may likely
    cause a row between the National Assembly and the executive branch of the
    Federal Government.

    We may need to explain what a “Resolution” is all about. A resolution is a written motion adopted
    by a deliberative body. The substance of the resolution can be anything that
    can normally be proposed as a motion. For long or important motions, though, it
    is often better to have them written out so that discussion is easier or so
    that it can be distributed outside of the body after its adoption. Resolutions
    are commonly used in company meetings and houses of legislature. Under the
    Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 resolutions of the
    National Assembly are recognized or contemplated as one of the instruments
    through which the National Assembly can exercise its powers of law making. In company law, a written resolution is
    especially useful in the case of the board of directors when there is the need
    to give its consent to a transaction entered into by a company. When such a
    resolution is certified by the company secretary it gives assurance to the
    other side that such a transaction in question is authorized by the Board of
    Directors. The Board of Directors of a company is undoubtedly the decision
    making body in such a company. Other examples include resolutions approving the
    opening of bank accounts or authorizing the issuance of shares in the company.
    In a house of a legislature (such as the House of Representatives and Senate),
    the term non binding resolution refers to measures that do not become laws. The
    resolutions of both the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively
    can be classified as Non-binding resolutions. This is used to differentiate
    those measures from a bill, which is also a resolution in the technical sense.

    A
    bill is the major mode of exercising of Federal Legislative powers vested on
    the National Assembly by virtue of Section 58 (1) of the Constitution of the
    Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra).

    The
    resolution is often used to express the body’s approval or disapproval of
    something which they cannot otherwise vote on, due to the matter being handled
    by another jurisdiction or being protected by a constitution. An example would
    be a resolution directing the executive to apply for a review of the judgment
    of the International Court of Justice, which decidedly carries no weight, but
    is adopted for moral support.

    The work of National Assembly is
    initiated by the introduction of a proposal in one of four forms: the bill, the
    joint resolution, the concurrent resolution, and the simple resolution. Upon
    adoption, simple resolutions are attested to by the Clerk of the House of
    Representatives or the Clerk of the Senate and are published in the Hansard or
    Gazette of both Houses.

    However if the executive branch of government under the leadership
    of President Jonathan fails to comply with the resolutions of the National
    Assembly directing it to apply for a review of the judgment of the
    International Court of Justice on the ground that the resolutions lack the
    force of law; the National Assembly may likely take advantage of the non
    compliance with Section 12 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
    Nigeria,1999 by the Federal Government before the signing of the Green Tree
    Agreement between Nigeria and Cameroon that led to the handover of the Bakassi
    peninsula to Cameroon in August 2006 and initiate impeachment proceedings
    against President Jonathan for violating the Constitution.

    However it is instructive that the Green Tree Agreement was signed
    by the predecessor of President Jonathan, Olusegun Obasanjo. Be that as it may,
    President Jonathan has a constitutional duty to ensure that the Green Tree
    Agreement is invalidated if it fails to comply with the provisions of Section
    12 (1) of the Constitution which explicitly provides thus:

    “No treaty between the
    Federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the
    extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National
    Assembly”.

    President Jonathan has a constitutional duty to ensure that no
    portion or part of the territory constituting the Federal Republic of Nigeria
    is given away to another country under the guise of pandering to the whims and
    caprices of the international community to the detriment of Nigeria National
    Interest. President Jonathan has fundamental duty of ensuring the Constitution
    is preserved, obeyed and respected by all institutions and persons or group of
    persons including the executive branch of government under his leadership. But
    what stops the National Assembly passing a Law invalidating the Green Tree
    Agreement and compelling the President to set a motion in machinery to apply
    for a review of the Judgment of the International Court of Justice in order to
    tie the hands of the President?

    Okoi Obono-Obla

    ·
    Obono-Obla is Barrister and a Civil Society Activist. He lives in
    Abuja, Nigeria.