It is time to hear the voice of the people of Bakassi.
With every heartbeat, the clock ticks, second by second, till the moment when Nigeria will lose the opportunity to contest the ruling of the International Court of Justice which ceded Bakassi Peninsular to neigbouring Cameroon.
In less than five days, the Federal Republic of Nigeria will for sure ratify the judgment of the ICJ if it does not send a team to challenge the court’s rulings and reclaim Bakassi Peninsula, the home to over 500 thousand Efik Nigerians.
With just about 120 hours left, President Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday, instituted a committee to look at the option of appealing the judgment of the ICJ.
This may leave insufficient time for the panel to establish a strong argument against the ICJ ruling. This, in the first place, was what critics said made Nigeria to lose its rights to the land, despite concrete reasons and evidences pointing to Nigeria’s ownership of the land dating back to the 1884 Anglo-Efik treaty. The treaty was supposed to be a binding agreement between Britain and the Obong chiefs and people of Calabar, situated at the controversial Bakassi Peninsula.
Analysts and international lawyers say sidelining the treaty, is tantamount to contravening article 26 of the Vienna constitution which says: “Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed b them in good faith”.
The judgment also eluded good conscience and justice and is also wrought with selfish interests and imperialism. The ICJ failed to recognize the Obong and the chiefs as sovereigns in the Anglo- Efik treat.
It means that fifty two years after Nigeria gained its independence from Britain; they are still simply not regarded as equals hence, the ICJ judgment. It means that the lawyers opine that the treaty was not an agreement between equals. There is no rationalization for treating treaties made between African and the west as less than obligatory.
Then, one wonders what the gains of independence are, especially if Nigeria fails to contest the judgment and abides by the ICJ ruling. No sovereign nation allows a community- international or national- poke it, by regarding its people as inferior or seizing territories which rightfully belong to it.
The right to self-determination is really based on respect for the principle of equal rights and the right of nations, individuals and people to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status, with no external compulsion or interference. So, except the panel of judges thinks that the people of Bakassi are not human enough to protect their right to self determination, then the ruling can stand.
Except the federal government and the whole world watch and do nothing when we undermine the humanness of the Bakassi people, this is the time for Nigeria to listen to Bakassi indigenes. What do the Bakassi people want, what becomes of them, their identity, their ancestral land, their home? What becomes of Nigeria as a sovereign nation?
There is also the principle of intertemporal law. This principle protects and supports the human rights of the Bakassi people to enjoy their natural wealth and resources, exercise their agricultural and fishing trades, and pursue their development under the sovereignty (and its successor) that protected them for over a century.
With less than five days left, the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the support of Nigerians and the legislature -which has been clamouring for a review of the ICJ ruling- can uphold the integrity of Nigeria, Nigerians and most importantly the Bakassi people.