Simon Ateba

The oil-rich Bakassi peninsula does not belong to Nigeria and there is no basis to call for a review of the international court ruling, a veteran lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barrister Robert Clarke, has said.

The International Court of Justice, ICJ, ruled on 10 October 2002 that Bakassi belonged to Cameroon and must be transferred to Cameroon within 10 years.

With only days to the 10 October 2012 final transfer of sovereignty of the peninsula to Cameroon, Nigeria’s National Assembly has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to seek a review of the ICJ ruling on the basis that new facts have emerged.

Lawmakers also argued that the ruling was never ratified by Nigeria’s National Assembly, and as such, contravened section 12 of the country’s constitution.

However, Clarke who was a guest at Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Wednesday morning, argued that an ICJ ruling can only be reviewed on three grounds, adding that those grounds do not apply in the case of the Bakassi ruling.

“If there was a mistake, if there was fraud or if there are new facts that were not available at the time of the ruling that are available now,” Clarke said, referring to the grounds that allow for a review of an ICJ ruling.

“But there was no mistake. There was no fraud and there are no new facts,” he concluded.

Clarke said that by 1914 when Nigeria became a nation through amalgamation, Bakassi was not in the Nigerian map and Nigeria lost at the court because Cameroon relied on hard facts while Nigeria presented historical facts before the court.

He said Bakassi was only included in the Nigerian map in 1918 when Nigeria got trusteeship of the Southern Cameroon region from the United Nations.

He explained that after a referendum, the people of Southern Cameroon region decided to be united with Cameroon and Nigeria lost its trusteeship over the peninsula.

“Under the international treaty, once you submit yourself to a jurisdiction and you take a matter to a world court, you are bound by its decision,” Clarke said.

“There is nothing Nigeria can do. There is a judgement. We have accepted the judgment. We have executed the judgment and we have benefited from the judgment,” he said.

Clarke said that after the ICJ ruling in 2002, Nigeria and Cameroon signed the Green Tree Agreement in 2006 in New York in which Nigeria got half of the oil blocs on a concession basis renewable every 20 years.

Clarke said Nigeria can only attempt to buy the peninsula from Cameroon instead of going to embarrass itself from the world court.

He argued that lawyers agitating for the review of the court ruling are interested in making money.

Foreign and local lawyers who had represented Nigeria in the ruling in the past, he said, made at least $358 million from Nigeria.

Clarke also rejected arguments that the people of BaKassi can approach the United Nations for their rights to self determination, saying that they are in a foreign land and have no rights there.

He said those who accuse former heads of state, Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo of selling out do not have the facts.

He said Obasanjo got the best financial concessions he could get after the final ruling, while Gowon had no choice fighting Cameroon while Nigeria was under a civil war.