Senate moves against Jonathan on Bakassi

Bakassi penninsula

The Nigerian Senate has a varying stand from the Federal Government as regards the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula.

The Nigerian senate plans to move in opposite direction to the vision of the Jonathan’s administration with respect to the status of Bakassi peninsula, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

The Nigerian government ceded the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon following the judgment of the International Court of Justice, ICJ, in 2002, but till date, has not sought the senate’s ratification for the move.

According to the Nigerian constitution, the Federal Government is required to seek the senate’s blessing in ceding any portion of the Nigerian territory. This is what Senators opposed to the Bakassi deal are now planning to exploit in order to force a reversal.

It has also prompted a number of professional groups like the Nigerian bar Association, (NBA), civic groups, and many politicians particularly those from the south–south zone to constantly ask the federal government to apply for a revision of the court order.

Senate spokesman, Eyinnaya Abaribe, told PREMIUM TIMES that the upper legislative chamber is yet to receive any notice or communication from the Attorney General of the Federation as regards the Bakassi deal. He added that the senate is not currently speaking with either the presidency or the ministry of justice on the matter.

Last week, however, the Attorney General, Bello Adoke, was in Cameroun for the latest meeting of the Cameroun-Nigeria Mixed Commission set up, in part, to effect the transfer of Bakassi to Cameroun. He spoke loftily and exuberantly on the work of the Commission.

“I appreciate the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission as a unique conflict-resolution mechanism… It is in this connection that we should recommend the ingenuity and foresight of the founding fathers of the Mixed Commission… Indeed, when the history of inter-African peace and conflict resolution is written, (our) Commission will certainly find pride of place in the chronicle of the events of our great Continent,” Mr. Adoke said in a statement quoted in the Cameroun Tribune.

The work of the Commission is spelt out in an agreement famously called the Green Tree Agreement. Through this agreement, some 1,780 kilometres of frontier had been demarcated, with only about 200 km left.

With work on border demarcation so far done, what appears to be a strong enthusiasm to cede the peninsula by the administration; and the final date for a possible request to review the judgement at hand [October10], the Senate seems to be chasing shadows.

It is unclear if these are the issues that have come together to provoke fresh concerns from interest groups opposed to the Bakassi deal. But Mr. Abaribe told PREMIUM TIMES that the senate plans to take independent action on the fate of Bakassi, that has perennially threatened to bring Nigeria and Cameroun to war, regardless of how the administration moves.

Last week, the Nigerian Bar Association, citing what it called “the gross violations of the rights of the Bakassi people”, rose from a meeting saying it is “aware that there are grounds upon which the Government of Nigeria may legitimately apply for a revision of the ICJ judgment.”

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