Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cameroon Takes Total Control of Oil-Rich Bakassi!

Both Nigerian and Cameroonian Authorities Call for Continued Peaceful Co-existence 

Governor Okalia Bilai (in suit) & Consul-General M.H.Akan
By Christopher Ambe
 As Cameroon finally took full sovereignty over the disputed, oil-rich Bakassi peninsula today 14 August, a symbolic ceremony to that effect was hosted by Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai-representing the State of Cameroon and in attendance was Mohammed Hendrick Akan, Nigerian Consul-General in Buea, representing the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
    During the solemn ceremony at Buea Governor’s office, witnessed among others, by Cameroonian security and administrative authorities  as well as a delegation of Nigerian officials from their Consulate-General in Buea, both Governor Okalia and Consul-General Akan,stressed the need for both countries to continue to be good neighbors and co-exist peacefully as had  been before.
    Both Governor Okalia and Consul-General Akan hailed President Paul Biya of Cameroon and President Olusengun Obasanjo of Nigeria, signatories to the UN-supervised Green Tree Accord, which paved the way for the handing over of Bakassi to Cameroon.
 Nigerian authorities witnessed the Aug.14 ,2013 Buea symbolic  ceremony
Nigeria formally ceded Bakassi to Cameroon on August 14, 2008, bringing to an end 15 years of border clashes between both countries over the ownership of the oil-rich territory.
   Then, a UN-backed period of transition was agreed by the two countries, during which period Cameroon embarked on heavy investments in the territory, making its administrative presence in the area more obvious.
Bakassi peninsula projects in to the Gulf of Guinea and is believed to contain up to 10% of the world’s oil and gas reserves,
   There is a significant number of Nigerians living in the Bakassi area, majority of who are Nigerian fishermen. It is now expected that Nigerians living in the peninsula will apply for a visa or apply for Cameroonian citizenship.
Cameroon and Nigeria had disputed over the legal ownership of the peninsula for years.
    But conscious that Bakassi belongs to Cameroon, President Paul Biya brought the matter before the International Court of Justice, ICJ, which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
Some Cameroon Security Chiefs  also witnessed the Buea event
   In October 2002, the ICJ, drawing wisdom and strength from a March 11, 1913 colonial agreement between Britain and Germany, ruled in favor of Cameroon.
 The Court ruled that the sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula lies with Cameroon
The Court judgment  was final, without appeal, and binding for both parties-Cameroon and Nigeria
    Surprisingly, a defeated Nigeria, raising various concerns, challenged the ICJ verdict.
But it took high-level diplomacy and peace negotiation for Nigeria to eventually come to reason; thus the signing on June 12, 2006 of the UN-brokered Green Tree Accord by Cameroon and Nigeria on the implementation procedures and schedules of the ICJ ruling on the Bakassi peninsula.
  And so, on August 14, 2008, Nigeria handed over the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon to end a 15-year dispute over the oil- and gas- rich territory .The handing over ceremony, which was initially to take place in the Bakassi area, was moved to Calabar in Nigeria over security concerns.
   The Recorder learned that the August 14, 2013 symbolic ceremony rather took place in Buea instead of Bakassi over security worries-although Cameroon elite soldiers are stationed in the territory Bakassi.

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