Bakassi natives sue Nigeria over cession to Cameroon

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Nnamdi Felix / Abuja

Ahead of the 10th October deadline for Nigeria to appeal against the Green Tree Agreement between Nigeria and Cameroun which led to the ceding of Nigeria’s oil rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun, some Bakassi indigenes on Friday dragged the Federal Government before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja where they sought for an order voiding the Green Tree Agreement signed by the Federal Government with Cameroun in 2006.

In a motion ex-parte filed on their behaalf by Mr Festus Ogwuche, they pleaded with the court to make an order of mandamus to compel the Federal Government by any means available, to repossess, occupy and take full legal and administrative control over the Bakassi Peninsula.

The motion was brought pursuant to section 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Enforcement and Ratification Act) Cap 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, as well as Order 34 Rules 1(a), 3(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2007.

The suit was endorsed by leaders of an association, Free Bakassi Association, led by Prince Imoh Ukpa Imoh. Others signatories were Mr Godwin Ukpong, Mr Chritian A. Umoh, Mr Anthony Achibong Ukong, Mr Kingsley Edu, Mr Etim Ekpeyong Ndong, Mr Offiong Anying Ekpeyong, Bassey Okon Osua and Bassey Ikoedem Antiga.

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They want the Federal Government to withdraw and revoke Nigeria’s obligations under the Green Tree Agreement entered into between Nigeria and Cameroun in Green Tree, New York, USA on the 12th day of June, 2006, for being invalid and in breach of Articles 1, 2, 20, 21, 22 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 1(2) of the UN Charter, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of indigenous peoples, and being inconsistent with sections 1-3, 2(1) and (6), 13, 14(1) and (2)(b), 17(1), (2)(b), (c ) and (d), sections 19(a) and 9d0, 21(a) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

They further contended that ICJ gave its judgment on the protracted dispute over ownership of the oil rich Peninsula, based on archaic and anachronistic colonial declarations, and communications between colonial officers.

According to Mr. Ogwuche, the suit aims to compel the Federal Government to comply with its obligations and commitments under the African Charter and to withdraw its position under the Green Tree Agreement for being in breach of the African Charter, the 1999 constitution and all other international documents on human right, including Article 2 of the United Nations Charter as well as the UN charter on the rights of indigenous people.

The court, presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, however declined to rule on the exparte application noting that
The applicants raised far reaching national and legal issues that it needs to peruse carefully before making a decision in the case.

Ruling was subsequently adjourned to 9 October.