Monday, April 21, 2014

Senate asks Jonathan to “immediately” appeal Bakassi ceding

Published:

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.

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