Source: This Day (Abuja)
By Dele Ogbodo
Twelve years after the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), referred to as the Greentree Agreement between the governments of Nigeria and Cameroun, the federal government at the weekend advised that Bakassi indigenes resident in the peninsular, who prefer to be Nigerian citizens were free to apply for citizenship or move back to Nigeria.
The ICJ had in 2002 ceded the Bakassi Peninsular to Cameroun.
Answering questions from journalists, after the opening of the 32nd Session of the Cameroun-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC), in Abuja, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, (SAN) said Nigerians presently living in Cameroun had no cause to be aggrieved.
“Why should they be aggrieved, what is the cause of their grievances, If Nigerians in Cameroun prefer to be in Nigeria, they know what to do, they can apply for Nigerian citizenship and if they don’t want to remain there they can move back to Nigeria.
“And if they are not already Nigerian citizens and they want to be Nigerian citizens and don’t want to remain there, there are provisions under the Nigerian Constitution under which they can apply and become Nigerian citizens and if they are Nigerian citizens they are not under obligation to remain in Cameroun since an alternative arrangement have been made for them,” he said.
While commending the governments of both counties for their continued cooperation to achieve peace within the peninsula, he said: “Nigeria will continue to support the implementation of initiatives that promote peace between our peoples.” He, however, reiterated the resolve of government to protect the interests of all Nigerians, irrespective of their place of domicile.
Explaining further, he said: “Everything possible should be done by Camerounian authorities to ensure that Nigerians living in Cameroun are accorded their rights and allowed to carry out their legitimate activities in Cameroun and to continue to cooperate with authorities in Cameroun, obey the laws and above all, live peacefully with the host communities.”
While acknowledging the effort of the CNMC, on account of prevailing peace in the area, Adoke added: “Only recently, the CNMC was able to accomplish the successful and peaceful conclusion of the transition regime of five years provided for by the Greentree Agreement on Bakassi zone last year and the signing of the framework on joint border security patrol.”
On the depletion of the trust fund for the demarcation of the common boundary presently managed by the United Nations (UN), the minister said government was making concerted effort to see how more funds would be raised for the exercise.
The fund, which was set up over a decade ago, was funded from the contributionss of both countries, the European Union (EU) and other friendly countries.
Adoke said the CNMC was therefore not only challenged to ensure it concludes it assignment expeditiously, but to do it in a such a manner to strengthen both countries’ national institutions and bilateral agencies working on the border demarcation.
In a remark, the Vice-Prime Minister and leader of Camerounian delegation, Mr. Amadou Ali, said the 32nd Session of CNMC marked a significant point, adding that this translated unequivocally the harmonious and peaceful nature of the process of settlement of the Bakassi conflict, in strict compliance with the ICJ judgment of October 2002.
He said: “It is now recognised that the implementation of the ICJ judgment of the 10 October 2002 is a success and constitutes an excellent model for the peaceful resolution of conflicts for the world.
“It is in recognition of the judicious choice made by our respective Heads of State for justice and peace.”