Vanguard (Lagos)

23 November 2012

Nigeria: Bakassi - UN Suspends Nigeria, Cameroon Maritime Boundary Demarcation

Calabar — Following protests embarked upon by the displaced people of Bakassi on Wednesday and Thursday, the Joint Technical Team, comprising the United Nations, Nigerian and Cameroonian officials, have announced the suspension of the demarcation of the maritime boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon.

Meanwhile, the presence of three ships with Cameroonian gendarmes at the Ikang beach, which falls into Nigerian territory, caused a stir as some of the Bakassi youths were said to have come out to confront them before their leaders told them to watch out events first.

The UN team had, on Wednesday, paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman of Bakassi Local Government Area, Dr. Ekpo Bassey, at the council's temporary headquarters, Ikang, to intimate him of their mission before they could move to the Peninsula to carry out their assignment.

But youths, numbering over 300, had stopped them at Ikang, protesting that they had suffered human rights violation which the UN should first look into and that as they were talking, they were still homeless as a result of the International Court of Justice's ruling that ceded their territory to Cameroon.

This development made the UN team to stop the exercise and go back to Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

However, representatives of Bakassi, also numbering about 50, yesterday morning, carried placards to the Pyramids Hotel where the delegation lodged, to register their grievances and demands.

Some of the placards had different inscriptions such as, "We say it clearly, we are Nigerians, here we belong," "UN demarcation team, leave Bakassi alone"; "We ask again, why do you not condemn human rights abuse against the people?"; "The judgement of the ICJ is unacceptable to our people," and "You must hear us and we have the right to choose where to belong," among others.

After an indoor meeting between the leaders of the displaced Bakassi people, Chief Maurice Ekong and Chief Ani Esin and the UN team, it was resolved that the demarcation exercise would be suspended while the people were told to put down their grievances in paper to be given to the team for onward transition to the UN.

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