Jude Okwe in Calabar
The demarcation of the maritime boundary between Nigeria and Cameroun has been suspended indefinitely. The Joint Technical Team made up of offcials of the United Nations (UN), Nigeria and Cameroun announced yesterday in Calabar, Cross River State.
The suspension is sequel to the demonstration against the demarcation exercise by some indigenes of Bakassi on Wednesday at Ikang in Bakassi Local Government Area and yesterday at Pyramid Hotel Calabar where officials of the team were lodged.
They went there to register their protest, carrying placards to boot. But after a closed door meeting attended by the leaders of the displaced people of Bakassi, Chief Maurice Ekong and Chief Ani Esin and the UN team, it was unanimously agreed that since the atmosphere was not conducive, the planned demarcation exercise should be put on hold even as the demonstrators were advised to put down their grievances in writing for onward submission to the UN.
Though officials of the UN team turned down request from journalists for questions on what transpired at the meeting, the Bakassi representatives at the dialogue said the talk went well and that the visiting team agreed to suspend the exercise.
“The outcome of the meeting was successful because we told them exactly what the position is and at the end of the day they gave us the assurance that the demarcation exercise stands suspended and they asked us to forward a letter to them for onward delivery to the United Nations office in New York.
“So that is the long and short of what happened and of course we gave them all assurances that there is no cause for alarm, Cross River remains the most peaceful state in Nigeria and that they can go ahead and enjoy their stay in Calabar and that everything is under control,” Ekong said.
Commenting on the demands of Bakassians, Ekong said: “Our position is that it is baffling to understand why the UN will be hasty to pursue course of the final demarcation of the Bakassi Peninsular, the boundary between Nigeria and the Cameroun when the people of Nigeria have made it abundantly clear that there are cases of extra-judicial execution, extra-judicial incarceration.
“The worth of life in Bakassi is less than that of a domestic animal. So we told them that it was totally unacceptable. It was not in conformity with the tenets of the foundation and formation of the UN. They reasoned with us. We made them to understand that it will only be proper for the UN to be able to go to Bakassi and see what is happening.
“The Green Tree Agreement has failed totally and woefully. They should be able to go to Bakassi and they should be able to constitute a referendum. Or whatsoever they want to do, talk to the people of Bakassi first.
“And of course we sent a message to the Camerounian delegation that they should stop killing Bakassians. There are Bakassians that were part of our underground network. We heard that some of them have started missing and that quite a number of them had been arrested and detained by the Camerounian gendarmes and secret police.
“So, there should be a peace and reconciliation process between Nigeria and Bakassians. Whatsoever the Bakassians must have done, the Camerounians must be ready and willing to free those placed on their blacklist. They should stop arresting the Bakassians. The value of life of the Bakassians should worth something and meaningful.
“So we have been assured that all these things should be looked into and they are going to form part of the letter we are going to send to the UN through this demarcation team and we are optimistic that they will work on it but the most important part is that the demarcation exercise stands suspended.”