Bakassi returnees want FG to take over camp

Bakassi returnees in Cross River have called for permanent resettlement and intervention to improve their welfare (NAN)

Bakassi returnees in Cross River have called for permanent resettlement and intervention to improve their welfare (NAN)

OVER 3, 000 ‎Bakassi returnees have charged the Federal Government to take over their camp just as the Cross River State government moves to review the issue.

Speaking with newsmen in Calabar, the Bakassi Returnees Camp Leader, ‎ Etim Ene-Okon, said: “We are 3,226 returnees hear in the camp. We need the Federal Government led by President Buhari to take over this camp like it did in Borno.

“We are suffering and from the Look of things, the state can no longer manage the camp because of the feeding, education, empowerment and employment. Cross River State government can no longer manage this situation,” he stated.

Ene-Okon said that even the State Emergency Management Agency’s Director-General, Vincent Aqua had “told us that it could no longer manage the camp due to paucity of funds because our situation was caused by the Federal Government.”

He continued: “We want President Buhari to see (look) into this problem by relocating us from here and the Federal Government to take over the camp.

“Our people ‎ started suffering after we handed over our ancestral home to Cameroun, they sacked us from the place in a manner that was inhuman because the Green Tree Agreement provides for our choice of stay either there in Cameroun or here in Nigeria.

“But immediately after the terminal date of the window of the appeal provided for by the ICJ, they sacked all of us and killed so many while others have been jailed,” he maintained.

“Since 2013 we have been refugees in our land, living in the primary school here. More worrisome are our aged mother and small children.

“UN refugee team came here to establish farm for us but the equipment to use for the farm are not available. Please, President Buhari help us out,” Ene-Okon pleaded.

“From (Since) September 2014, the Cross River State government stopped sending relief materials to this camp due to financial problems,” he disclosed.

Commenting, Governor Ben Ayade said, “it is my responsibility as a governor to provide housing for all.

“Therefore, the issue of Bakassi returnees is very critical on the front burner and so we will train them on low cost housing technique and when we train them, they can be on their own.

“Take note that the Bakassi issue is the duty ‎of the Federal Government and we are going to take their cause to the Federal Government to be reviewed and revisited.

“But I will not wait for the Federal Government before taking my action and by the time the Federal Government see my actions and result, definitely, President Buhari will respond and I believe that in the next three months if you ask me this same question, Bakassi issue is one of those issues I will address in my 100 days in office with a practical solution,” the governor stated.

Meanwhile, the Paramount Ruler of Bakassi and Chairman, Cross River State Council of Chiefs, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet had given another twist to the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and Cameroun, saying it was God’s punishment on the two nations for the injustice meted out to the people of Bakassi Peninsula.

He told newsmen in Calabar that the insurgency was a spiritual issue through which God was indirectly paying Nigeria back with her own coin.

“If they bring the best set of army in the world to fight, it would not stop. It is a spiritual thing. It goes beyond the physical.

“Look at it this way. Our own very Nigerian military that used to go out to other countries to gallantly liberate them from the scourge of insurgency has suddenly lost power to confront Boko Haram. This is because the weapons of that warfare can never be canal.

“Until Nigerian government and United Nations and those countries that supervised the ceding and the so-called Green Tree Agreement and have done nothing to help Bakassi people, yes, until they rise to see the injustice meted out to my people, Boko Haram will not stop.

“Nigeria and Cameroun will never know peace; whosoever contributed to this injustice will never know peace until the world redresses the injustice done the Bakassi people. My people are suffering and in their tears, they are crying to God. The God of justice is answering their prayers in a very unusual way,” the monarch stressed.

“Today, Cameroun is affected by Boko Haram because they took over what did not belong to them. The day justice is done to Bakassi people, Boko Haram would stop.

“People keep saying that the ‘thought of God is good and not evil to lead us to a good end. I believe that God also has evil thought of punishment to the recalcitrant. Was it not God who sent His evil spirit to torment Saul in the Holy Bible?

“God is the God of justice. Boko Haram will continue to unleash mayhem on Nigeria and Cameroun. Do you know why? Injustice has been done to the people of Bakassi. The area was ceded without giving the people option of deciding where they want to belong.

“The people are being killed in their numbers by Cameroun gendarmes daily. In Nigeria here, the displaced people have been abandoned to their fate. They are roaming hopelessly and crying for a place to be called their own.

“The people were not conquered in any form of war by Cameroun and yet they are being treated as spoils of war, brutalized and dehumanized. The welfare and security of the people should be the paramount duty of government but in our case, it is not. Has justice been done in our case? Have they not infringed on our right?” the paramount monarch fumed.

He added that before the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) judgement of 2002, “there was no Boko Haram, Niger Delta militancy or any serious insecurity issue in the country but now, the question we are asking is: Was there Boko Haram before the ceding of Bakassi? Was there militancy in the Niger Delta before the ceding of Bakassi? Was there serious piracy on Calabar waterway and Gulf of Guinea generally before the ceding of Bakassi? The answer will be no, no and no.”

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