No plan to claim Cameroon’s ownership of Bakassi Peninsula, says Buhari

BUHARI-CHATHAM-HOUSENigeria will abide by the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Bakassi Peninsula, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.

President Buhari said his administration would ensure the faithful implementation of the Green Tree Agreement, which regulates the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon.

Mr. Buhari spoke at an interactive session with Nigerians living in Cameroon during his two-day working and friendly visit to the country, a statement by Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesperson, said.

“Since Nigeria allowed the case to go to court (ICJ), and we lost, we have to abide by it, ” the President said in response to a question from a Nigerian on the issue.

Nigeria had on October 9, 2012, finally conceded the disputed Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in line with the judgment of the International Court of Justice awarding the area to the Central African country.

But even that did not put paid to speculations speculations that Aftica’s most populous country might seek a review of the ruling.

The then Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, said in a statement at the time that the committee constituted by government and a firm of international lawyers retained by government came to the conclusion that “an application for a review is virtually bound to fail“ and that “a failed application will be diplomatically damaging to Nigeria”.

“In view of the foregoing, the Federal Government is of the informed view that with less than two days to the period when the revision will be statute barred (9th October, 2012), it would be impossible for Nigeria to satisfy the requirements of Articles 61(1) -(5) of the ICJ Statute,” Mr. Adoke said in the statement.

“Government has therefore decided that it will not be in the national interest to apply for revision of the 2002 ICJ Judgment in respect of the Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria.”

President Buhari’s comment has now dampened expectations by some Nigerians that subsequent Nigerian administrations might again try to wrestle the oil-rich peninsula from Cameroon.

On the plight of some 40,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, who were
forced to flee their homes because of Boko Haram terrorists, the President said the Federal government would ensure their safe return and rehabilitation in the shortest possible time.

“We also have about 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria and we have a programme of rehabilitation and reintegration into the society for them, which involves providing shelter and schools to the displaced persons.’’

President Buhari, who is on his maiden visit to the country after his
inauguration on May 29, said his administration had yet to articulate a foreign policy for Nigeria beyond what was captured in the All Progressives Congress (APC) party’s manifesto.

“However we will make our embassies more efficient and improve our relations with other countries,’’ he said.

The President urged Nigerians in Diaspora to be law abiding in their
host countries and told representatives of the over 4 million Nigerians living in Cameroon to continue to live in peace and harmony with Cameroonians.

Responding to a question on the voting rights for Nigerians in Diaspora, the President promised that his administration would revisit the issue, which would require legislation from the National Assembly.

Later in a prepared text read to the Nigerian community, the President pledged to do everything possible toward bringing positive change to Nigeria.

“Despite the numerous challenges confronting us, the future of our country is bright.

“You all know very well that your fellow Nigerians are resilient, hardworking and patriotic.

“These qualities have always seen us through our most difficult national challenges and they will do so now.’’

On the fight against Boko Haram, the President assured Nigerians that the current security challenges are not insurmountable.

He said Nigeria was working with all her neighbours, including Cameroon, to fight and stand firmly against all forms of terror and trans-border crimes.

He appealed for patience and vigilance l from Nigerians to ensure that youths are not lured into joining “misguided groups.’’

“We are determined to end this callousness against our innocent citizens.

“The defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria and the protection of lives and properties of Nigerians and all those who live in the country are out top priorities.

“We shall explore all reasonable options to enable us to bring this rebellion to an end,” he vowed.

President Buhari will depart Cameroon for Abuja on Thursday after addressing a joint press conference in Yaounde with his host, President Paul Biya. -Premium Times

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