Abuja- Nigeria (PANA) — Nigeria Wednesday rejected the 10 October judgement by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) granting sovereignty of the disputed Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon and urged UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to mediate in the dispute.
In a statement in Abuja, the government said the judgement of the Court was based on « materials other than facts and precedents for purely political reasons, the Court, headed by a French president upheld a legal position, which is contrary to all known laws and conventions..
« It is apparent that a lot of fundamental facts were not taken into consideration in arriving at (the Court’s) declaration. ».
« The government faults the Court order relating to Nigerian communities in the area whose ancestral homes « are adjudged to be in Cameroonian territory, but who are expected to maintain cultural, trade and religious affiliations with their kith and kin in Nigeria. »
The statement read by Transport Minister Ojo Maduekwe at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting, said: « the Kings, Chiefs and people of old Calabar (in south-eastern Nigeria) signed a Treaty of protection with Great Britain.
« That Treaty did not give the British power to alienate all or any part of the land which they were supposed to protect.
The Protectorate included Bakassi.
» But « the Court in disregard of the inalienable rights of the Kings, Chiefs and people of old Calabar to their land and ancestral homes upheld the Anglo-German Treaty of 1913 by which Britain ceded the Bakassi peninsula to Germany.
« This Treaty was essentially the basis of the judgement giving sovereignty over Bakassi to Cameroon, » the Minister said in the six-page statement.
The statement called on Annan to broker a meeting between Nigeria and Cameroon on « reconciliation, normalisation and good neighbourliness, » and appealed to all Nigerians « to remain calm, positive and constructive until we can find a peaceful solution to the boundary issue between Nigeria and Cameroon.
» The government assured Nigerians of its constitutional commitment to protect the citizens.
« On no account will Nigeria abandon her people and their interests. For Nigeria, it is not a matter of oil or natural resources on land or in coastal waters, it is a matter of the welfare and well-being of her people on their land, » the statement added.
Nigeria and Cameroon had clashed several times on the mineral-rich peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea before Cameroon took the matter to ICJ.
Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Paul Biya had agreed at a meeting in Paris in September to respect the ICJ ruling on the disputed territory.