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Reps Probe Irregularities In Bakassi Resettlement

Speaker, Nigeria's House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal

By Our Correspondent

The House of Representatives on Thursday, resolved to investigate the irregularities in the resettlement of displaced persons from the disputed Bakassi Peninsula.

Speaker, Nigeria's House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal

Speaker, Nigeria’s House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal

To the extent, the House directed its Committee on Special Duties to investigate the activities of the Presidential Committee on the Resettlement of Bakassi people vis-à-vis the omission of persons in the resettlement of displaced people of the disputed Bakassi Peninsula and report back to the House within four weeks.

Some of the displaced persons including Ibibio, Ijaw, Obolo, Ilaje, Eket, Oron and Okobo origins including Ibo traders were excluded from the resettlement programme, according to the report by the Presidential Committee submitted to the Vice President Namadi Sambo.

The resolution was passed after robust debate on motion titled ‘urgent need to direct the Presidential Committee on the resettlement of the displaced people of Bakassi Peninsula to review its report in order to be inclusive of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Peninsula’ sponsored by Robinson Uwak (PDP, Akwa Ibom).

Other lawmakers who spoke in favour of the motion include part, Raphael Igbokwe (PDP, Imo), Isaac Osahon (APC, Edo), John Chukwu Onyeriri (PDP, Imo) and Patrick Ihkariale (PDP, Edo).

In his lead debate, Uwak lamented that there was “a difference between the people of Bakassi Local Government of Cross River state and aborigenes of Bakassi Peninsula who are of Ibibio, Obolo, Eket Oron Ijaw Ilaje, and Igbo origin descent, from such communities as: Okobo (Okobo tribe), Oron (Oron), Mbo (Oron) Udung Uko (Oron), Urue-ofong Oruko (Oron), Uruan (Ibibio) Nsit Atai (Ibibio), Esit Eket (Eket and Obolo”).

According to him, these people constitute the majority of people displaced by the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon adding that the implementation of the Presidential report has been proposed in the 2014 budget.

Uwak who queried the validity of the report, argued that the implementation of the proposed budgetary implementation will cause more harm considering the number of people excluded in the resettlement plan.

He maintained that the people of Okobo, Oron, Ijaw, Eket, Obolo, Ilaje, Ibibio, Ijaw and Igbo traders who still have their means of livelihood in the Peninsula are being ill-treated, maimed, abused and unfairly taxed by the Cameroonian gendarmes.

“The action of the Cameroonian authorities are contrary to a bilateral agreement signed by Nigeria and Cameroon and also contrary to the provisions of Articles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 21 of the Banjul Treaty (African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights), agreed to by all members of the African Union.”

He therefore sought the leave of the House to prevail on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to take legal action against the Republic of Cameroon for breaches of African Human Rights Law relating to the unfair taxation of Nigerians still living in the Peninsula.

In his contribution, Nnena Elendu-Ukeje, chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs, stressed the need to summon the Presidential Committee on Resettlement of the Bakassi people and Minister for Foreign Affairs to explain to the House the state of the programme.

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