‘Exercise Crocodile Smile’: Bakassi Group Alleges Harassment by Military


…Wants referendum

By Bassey Inyang in Calabar

Following the deployment of the Nigerian military to Bakassi, Akpabuyo creeks, in line with the dictates of the military operation, “Exercise Crocodile Smile,” a group operating under the aegis of Association of Bakassi Aborigines (ABA) has cried out, alleging intimidation and harassment of  innocent members of the area by soldiers.

National President for the association, Comrade Maurice Bassey, who spoke on Friday to journalists in Calabar, lamented that the military presence has only added to the plight of the displaced population, which has not been involved in any form of violent agitation.

Though Bassey said the federal government has the responsibility of protecting lives and property of the citizens, he noted that it was improper to draft troops to the area where majority of the people are grappling with life as displaced persons.

He lamented that life has become very unbearable for the ordinary Bakassi person.

He said based on the situation currently faced by the Bakassi dsplaced people whom he desribed as non-militants, Bassey tasked the federal government and the United Nations (UN) to cause  a plebiscite to be conducted in the area for the people to determine their future.

“We agree that there was a plebiscite of 1961, but then such a plebiscite is long out- dated because even after the plebiscite the territory continued to be a  territory of Nigeria with no complain from anywhere until about 1997 when Cameroon went to court,” Bassey said.

The group suggested that a general amnesty be granted to agited youths in the area who have been tagged ‘militants,’ saying ”We called for the granting of amnesty to misguided youths who have been forced to take up arms. “There’s no problem that cannot be solve through the use of dialogue, even though these youths had been misled to carry arms.”