Source: This Day (Nigeria)
The government could do more to cushion the plight of Bakassi people
Following heavy-handed laws and state-sponsored violence from the Cameroonian authorities, thousands of Nigerians have fled Abana, the headquarters of Bakassi Peninsula which is currently under the sovereignty of Cameroon. According to reports, Cameroonian gendarmes have been destroying the homes, fishing boats and other property of the Nigerians who still remain on the territory.
About 100 people have also been reportedly killed in recent months, such that a traditional ruler within the peninsular, Chief Umoh Umoh Inyang has had to cry out. “The Cameroonian gendarmes have been harassing us so much,” he said. “They destroy our boats, beat us and shot many of us. They made a lot of trouble for us in Akpankanya in Bakassi. The suffering is too much we had to come back. They even raped our wives”.
The House of Representatives last week waded into the issue by charging its committee on Foreign Affairs to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to stop the violence against Nigerians while also working out the compensation that must be paid to the affected families. But it is rather unfortunate that the authorities have for years ignored the agonies of Bakassi people, who now have to bear the burden of a decision made without their consent or input.
For instance, Nigerians in the Peninsula have repeatedly accused Cameroonian authorities of violating the terms of the United Nations-brokered Green Tree Treaty by forcibly giving their communities Cameroonian names, denying them economic rights, and imposing discriminatory taxes. To worsen matters, even the nation they call their own has neglected performing its obligations under the treaty. The agreement provides that our country must ensure that inhabitants of the Peninsula who opt to settle in Nigeria are “provided the necessary means and measures to do so.”