Senate President, David Mark
By Dele Ogbodo
With barely two weeks to the expiration of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruling which ceded Bakassi Peninsular and other territories to Cameroun on October 10, 2002, the Senate, Wednesday unanimously rejected the ruling.
Senate President, David Mark said the Senate has resolved to immediately write President Goodluck Jonathan to appeal the judgment in the interest of the country because of the new facts that have emerged over the ruling.
Speaking on the motion sponsored by Senator Abdul Ningi, representing Bauchi Central, Mark said, the judgment cannot be foreclosed as there is a window of opportunity for Nigeria to appeal before October 9.
Mark said: “I think appeal is a line of action that should not be neglected because that is legal, since Nigeria subjected itself to the court. “If that is what is available through the court, we should also utilise it. I think that is the most appropriate thing to do at this point in time.”
On President Jonathan’s position on the judgment in his statement at the UN, the Senate President said he was right in expressing the dissatisfaction of Nigerians over the ruling.
He said: “Part of what the President said at the UN and I think the man is right, and I think he infers that to mean that we have obeyed the International Court to this point but we still do not accept the judgment.”
Mark added that Nigeria was obeying the ruling does not mean it accepted it, because there is a lot of pressure at home.”
Continuing, the Senate President said: “We urge the federal Government to go on appeal, we on our part will revisit the letters and see what we can do, may be to quickly come up with a debate on the letters and then resend it to buttress our points and resolution that was arrived at today.”
According to him, the Senate is determined to protect every Nigerian irrespective of tribe and tongue. The Senate accordingly urge federal government to invoke Article 61 of the ICJ status to appeal the said judgment in the interest of Nigerians in the affected areas including Bakassi.
While all the senators condemned the ruling and the lackadaisical attitude of government since 2002, Ningi said new facts emerging have revealed that the judgment was erroneously based on the agreement between the British authorities and the Calabar Chiefs in 1884, adding that there has never been a precedent in history where any case of this nature was executed without a referendum as enshrined by the United Nations UN.
He said: “The lack of faithful implementation of the Green Tree Agreement signed by both countries violates the basis for the implementation of the court judgment.”
In his contribution, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba blamed the Federal Government for being in a hurry to accept the judgment, asking why it did not take the matter seriously.
“When Bakassi was being handed over, my friend and brother, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, assured Nigerians that Nigeria would not lose a single oil well as result of the loss of Bakassi, but now the 76 oil wells were formerly ascribed to Cross River went in a different direction which was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
While all the Senators supported the motion to appeal the judgment, Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume, hinted that the country must be commended for respecting the ICJ ruling which ceded Bakassi to Cameroun, adding that he was hopeful that with fresh facts on the judgment, Nigeria will reclaim the territories.
He said: “When the issue was tabled before the National Council of States by former President Olusegun Obasanjo for advise, it was contentious and at the end it was stated that the National Council of States was only an advisory body, we were made to understand that Nigeria was represented by some of the best legal minds in the world including the former Attorney General and a former President of the ICJ, Chief Bola Ajibola.”