The Nigerian government has yet to officially make its position known on the killing of at least 17 of her nationals by Camerounian gendarmes, more than 24 hours since reports of the crimes emerged Tuesday.
Over 1,900 people have been displaced by the attack, amongst a series of similar injustices endured by the people over ownership of the peninsula.People fleeing the area are now camped at the St Mark Primary School, Eyo Edem in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State. A former senator for the area said survivors escaped, spending nights in the forest and eventually crossing the Akwa ye Efe River to Akpabuyo where they are presently camped.
“As I speak to you, I cannot believe what the gendarmes did to our people. So many women cannot find their husbands while many children cannot find their mothers. So far, we have counted 17 people who are still missing,” she said.
Safety and freedom for the Bakassi people are key aspects of the Green tree agreement under which Nigeria meekly ceded the peninsula to Cameroun. The pact has repeatedly been flouted by the Central African nation.
This time, will Nigeria respond? Renowned lawyer, Itse Sagay, has suggestions if the federal government ever manages enough pluck:
“The Federal Government should summon the Cameroonian Ambassador and lay a complaint about the treatment of Nigerians there. The Government should also insist on a written guarantee for the safety and wellbeing of Nigerians there.
“It is a very tragic story because Bakassi really is part of Nigeria but the International Court of Justice, in a judgment, handed it over to Cameroon.
``The recent killing of some Bakassi settlers is a very relevant and concrete complaint and the Nigerian Government should now formally complain to the Security Council of the United Nations.
``It is no longer a judicial matter: that case is finished; no appeal and no room for review because the review time is over.(Referring to calls last year for review of the ceding).
``We can only go to the political organ in the United Nations and that is the Security Council, to complain that Nigerians are being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in Bakassi.
``The Federal Government should alert the Security Council to pass a resolution or give directives to the Cameroonians about how they should treat the Nigerians there.
`` The Federal Government should let the council know that there may be a danger of crimes against humanity if action is not taken. Again, government should work out modalities to ensure that the people are comfortable.
``None of the rehabilitation agreements has been fully met and the people there are not being protected. They should provide comfortable resettlement area so that they can move out.”