Militants accuse military of rights violation in Bakassi
• It is total falsehood, says Army spokesman
The leader of the Bakassi Strike Force (BSF),”General” Simply Benjamin has called on the Federal Government to withdraw its troops from Bakassi, Cross River State.
The group accused the soldiers of human rights violation, amongst other allegations.In a statement titled “a message to the Federal Government of Nigeria from Gen Simply Benjamin of Bakassi Strike Force (BSF),” made available to newsmen in Calabar yesterday, he said: “It is unfortunate that months after demonstrating willingness to work with the Federal Government, today my home, my community and people have been taken over by troops from the 13 Brigade.
“Are the Human Rights Commission, Mr. President and the international community aware of the atrocities these army personnel from the 13th Brigade stationed in Bakassi are perpetrating?
“ I want to again unequivocally state that I am not a terrorist as people outside are made to believe but I will not sit down and allow my people suffer from intimidation, neglect and oppression. I only request that Bakassi people should not be treated like second-class citizens.
He further said: “We demand that the modalities stipulated in the Green Tree Agreement be followed to the logical conclusion. We again demand the withdrawal of the military from Bakassi because we are civilised people who know their rights.”
According to him, Bakassi was ceded to Cameroun without recourse to human rights act, which stipulates the involvement of the people in the decision that concerns them.
“Certain measures were stipulated as conditions for handing over; these measures were in the Green Tree Agreement, which the Federal government and its Camerounian counterpart refused to implement to the letter.
“This indeed has brought untold hardship and frustration to the good people of Bakassi. This is the cause of my struggle, to liberate my people by drawing both the government and the international community’s attention to the plight of the Bakassi people and in my struggle I have never destroyed any national asset or terrorised any part of this country.
“If these demands are not met, then the Federal Government should expect that Bakassi people will continue this agitation, even in generation yet to come and unborn. Our right to self-determination is sacrosanct; we will continue to agitate for it,” Benjamin said.
However, the Army Public Relations Officer, 13 Brigade, Calabar, Capt Kayode Owolabi denied all the allegations, saying, “all these people accusing the army of violating human rights should come out with hard evidence or keep quiet. They are just trying to divert attention and smear the army’s image.”
According to Owolabi: “How are you even certain that the person who called you or gave you the statement is exactly who he claims to be. Bakassi is just 30 minutes drive from Calabar; if they have any evidence that the army has violated any human rights they should submit it. Let them come out of hiding. It is total falsehood and a blatant lie.”