Bakassi Indigenes Protest In Lagos


Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on National Assembly Matters, Senator Florence Ita Giwa was in the vanguard of the Bakassi Peoples General Assembly protest held in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Tuesday.

The protest P.M NEWS reliably gathered was organised to address  their resettlement in Day Spring 1 and 2 and Kwa Island in Cross Rivers State, South South Nigeria, their place of choice as allegedly pledged by the federal government in 2006.

The protesters who wore black on black, displayed their voter’s cards to show that they are bonafide Nigerians, registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Day Spring 1 and 2 and Kwa Island  in the old Bakassi Local Government and voted there during the last presidential, national and state assembly elections.

Speaking with journalists at the NTA premises on Victoria Island, Lagos, Ita Giwa who represented Cross River South constituency on the platorm of the All People’s Party, APP, between May 1999 and May 2003 said former President Obasanjo promised to relocate and resettle them in a place of their choice as painlessly as possible with all their institutions intact.

She said while they cannot claim that the promise has been fulfilled, they believe that recent events have made their relocation and resettlement on the Islands an imperative for the peace and stability of Nigeria.

“As painful as it may be, we will refrain from condemning the federal government’s decision not to revisit or belatedly appeal the 2002 ICJ judgement ceding the bulk of our homeland to Cameroun. If good sense had prevailed 10 years ago, we may not have found ourselves in this quagmire. As a peace loving people, we have chosen to cut out losses and move as a sacrifice for the peace and stability of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, our fatherland.

“We do not subscribe to futile efforts aimed at securing resources that were not used to develop our people in the past nor  is likely that it will be used for that purpose in the future. Bakassi has been used as a conduit for far too long. We abhor violence and reject any attempt to militarise our agitation. It is our contention that resources could be put to better use for the development of infrastructure in our chosen new abode as well as the development of vital human capacity of our industrious people.

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“The Day Spring 1 and 2 and Kwa Islands have always being parts of the old Bakassi Local Government and are the only unceeded portions of the old local government. Infact, INEC registered us and we indeed voted there in the last Presidential, National and State Assembly elections. INEC saw through the ruse of some elements within Cross River state to surreptitiously create a new Bakassi Local Government under the guise of readjusting the borders of Akpabuyo Local Government. These same elements denied us the right to vote in the deffered governorship election in April this year through a spurious court injunction,” she averred.

Speaking further, she said Nigeria is fraught with too many internal conflicts over the issues of settlers and land owners like in the case of Ife-Modakeke, Berom-Fulani, Ikot Offiong-Oku Iboku, adding that as the good people of Bakassi, they do not wish to become cannon folders in Akpabuyo.

“While we leverage with our brothers of the Akwa Ibom State origin, we make haste to affirm our affinity with the Efik Kingdom who are the original owners of the Bakassi Peninsula, and thus we are Cross Riverians and will remain same.

“We respectively suggest that they accept the hand of fellowship extended to them by the Akwa Ibom government to fashion out an amicable settlement of the issues. We also demand that proceeds of that settlement be expended to develop the new Bakassi local government based in Day Spring 1 and 2 and Kwa Islands.

“We plead with Nigerians to help us bear our pain of losing the bulks of our homeland with dignity, protect our fundamental human rights by resettling us and giving us back our right to vote and be voted for,” she pleaded.

By Jamiu Yisa

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