The Federal Government has advised indigenes of Bakassi Peninsular, who are aggrieved and uncomfortable with the October 10, 2002 judgment of the International Court of Justice that ceded the area to Cameroon, to apply for Nigerian citizenship, if they do not want to remain there.
The government, however, warned that “everything possible should be done by the Cameroonian authorities to ensure that Nigerians living in Cameroon are accorded their rights and allowed to carry out their legitimate activities to ensure their livelihoods.”
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), said this on Saturday in Abuja. The occasion was the opening ceremony of the 32nd session of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission.
He also raised the alarm that the Trust Fund for the demarcation of Nigeria’s common boundary, presently managed by the United Nations, has been substantially depleted. He expressed concern as to how pillar emplacement exercise would be continued and concluded.
At the event, the Vice-Prime Minister and leader of the Cameroonian delegation, Mr. Amadou Ali, and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (West Africa), Mr. Said Djinnit, said work had resumed since November 2013 for the demarcation of first two lots. The two lots, he said, included 323 boundary pillars, along the Southern and Southern-Central sections of the Bakassi Peninsular land boundary.
According to Adoke, the aggrieved residents of Bakassi Peninsular know what to do, if they preferred to be in Nigeria.
He said, “If they prefer to be in Nigeria, they know what to do. They can apply for Nigerian citizenship. If they are not already Nigerian citizens and they want to be Nigerian citizens, there are provisions under the constitution and they can apply to be Nigerian citizens.
“If they are already Nigerian citizens, they do not have any obligation to remain in Cameroon and the affected area since an alternative arrangement had been made for them.”
Speaking on the depletion of funds in the Trust Fund, Adoke said the position of Nigeria was that there would be concerted effort to see how money would be raised to complete the exercise.
He said that the over one decade Trust Fund was being funded with contributions from Nigeria and Cameroon, European Union and other friendly countries.
The AGF said that although the pillar emplacement exercise “is far from completion, the fund has been substantially depleted.”
He said, “This issue deserves our deep reflection as the solution lies in the ability of both countries (Nigeria and Cameroon) to work together, using the common grounds established by the CNMC and our brotherly ties.”
The minister called on both countries to work together to strengthen the commission and provide for the border component in its operations, where relevant national institutions and experts from both countries would jointly address issues relating to the boundary.