Hundreds of Bakassi Peninsula returnees of Akwa Ibom extraction, under the auspices of Amalgamated Bakassi Returnees Association have called for justice on the ownership of the 76 oil wells which belong to Akwa Ibom State but now disputed by Cross River State government.
The Bakassi returnees’ position was stressed Sunday in Oron local government area of Akwa Ibom State during a thank-you get together parley to celebrate their peaceful return and reception by their kinsmen, who they said have supported their well-being and re-integration into the state.
As original inhabitants of the Bakassi Peninsula, the returnees insisted that they had always known the disputed oil wells belonged to Akwa Ibom until they were arbitrarily transferred to Cross River State through a “mere pre-emptive letter from the National Boundary Commission NBC”.
A spokesman and leaders of the returnees, Chief Etetim Eyo Ekpo said the National Boundary Commission’s letter of January 24, 2005 which assumed that the administrative jurisdiction of Western Bakassi would remain in Nigeria had since been voided by the ceding of the Bakassi territory to Cameroun by Nigeria. Ekpo said the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the land and maritime boundary case wiped out the estuarine sector of Cross River State and rendered the state non-littoral.
The returnees noted that even the Supreme Court Judgment of 24th June, 2005 clearly established the ownership of the 76 oil wells and faulted the National Boundary Commission’s letter which presumptuously attributed the oil wells to Cross River State describing it as sub-judice as the “administrative jurisdiction of western Bakassi is now in Cameroun” and not Nigeria as envisaged by the NBC letter of 2005.
They described as condemnable and mischievous a situation where the Cross River State Government would applaud the Supreme Court verdicts which ceded Mbiabo Villages of Itu LGA of Akwa Ibom State lying East of the Okpokong River to Cross River State as reflected in its letter of 27th March, 2006 to the Presidency, only to turn around and questioned the same judgment which returned the 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom.
The returnees advised sponsors of organized protests to desist from such acts and await the ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter.