By Tobi Soniyi and Adebiyi Adedapo
Two experts in international law, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu and Mr Sebastian Hon (SAN) yesterday welcomed the decision of the Federal Government not to appeal the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ceding Bakassi to Cameroun.
They however called on government to make protection of the Bakassi people a priority.
Odinkalu said: “ I agree entirely with the decision of the Federal Government to turn the page on the agitation for a review of the ICJ”s decision in the Bakassi case and the reasons given for the decision.
“Now that this distraction is behind us, there remain serious issues in Bakassi that require urgent exertion of Nigeria’s diplomatic and institutional assets.”
According to him, Nigeria permits dual nationality but Cameroun does not.
He said: “Thus, when the transfer happens in 2013, the people of Bakassi will be faced with a choice as to their nationality. Those who choose to remain Nigerian will become aliens on their own land.
“Although the Green Tree Agreement promises to respect their rights to citizenship and residence, there is no obligation on Cameroun to grant residency permits to anyone.
“As a fact, Cameroun is currently not issuing any identification or citizenship documents in Bakassi. It can also choose to impose impossible conditions for doing so.
“This impermissible state of affairs can be addressed through a citizenship and residency rights Protocol to the Green Tree Agreement.
For Hon, Nigeria just saved herself from a diplomatic fiasco by threading the honourable path.
Hon is one of the very few senior lawyers who spoke against filing an application for a review.
He suggested an immediate resettlement of the Bakassi indigenes on the large swathe of green land stretching hundreds of kilometres between Odukpani Junction near Calabar and Ikom.