Reps oppose moves to cede Cross River communities to Cameroon

THE House of Representatives has opposed alleged moves to cede some communities in Cross River State to the neighbouring Republic of Cameroon.

The communities — Danare and Biajua, are located in the Boki Local Government Area of the state.

A motion against the ceding of the communities, jointly sponsored by members of the House of Representatives from Cross River, was unanimously adopted during plenary on Wednesday, July 5.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the member representing Ikom/Boki Federal Constituency, Victor Bisong Abang, noted that on October 10, 2002, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the Bakassi peninsula belonged to Cameroon, based on an agreement between the Nigerian and Cameroonian governments during the civil war.

He further noted that in July 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Cross River State lost ownership rights to over 76 oil wells due to the loss of the peninsula to Cameroon.

Abang pointed out that the ICJ ruling mandated retracing the Cameroon-Nigeria International Boundary Line from the Lake Chad region to the Atlantic Ocean.

He added that the United Nations consequently established two committees to implement the judgment, namely the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC) comprising representatives from Nigeria, Cameroon, and UN officials, and the Joint Technical Team (JTT), a sub-body of the CNMC responsible for the fieldwork and demarcation.

According to Abang, the JTT, consisting of representatives from both countries, with technical expertise provided by a foreign contractor paid by the CNMC, was mandated to conduct a valid and conclusive demarcation for the two countries.

However, he observed that the Anglo-German agreement of April 12, 1913, stipulated the placement of 114 boundary pillars from the Lake Chad region to Agbokim in the Etung Local Government Area of Cross River State, noting that six of these pillars, numbered 109 to 113A, fall within the Danare community in Boki Local Government Area.

The lawmaker expressed concern that the JTT has not located Pillar 113A and intends to adopt a “straight-line method,” potentially resulting in the loss of Danare and Biajua communities and approximately 7,000-10,000 hectares of land in the Boki Area of Cross River to Cameroon.

Abang argued that under the principles of federalism, the Federal Government of Nigeria has the responsibility to protect the territorial integrity of all federating units and should not unilaterally cede or allocate any part of a federating unit without the House’s consent.

The lawmaker further raised suspicions regarding the missing Pillar 113A, suggesting the Cameroonian government may have deliberately removed it as part of a plot to annex the land and displace the people of the Danare and Biajua communities.

“The missing Pillar 113A may have been deliberately removed by the Cameroonian government in their plot to take over the land and the people of Danare and Biajua communities,” he said.

“If a country like Nigeria keeps losing her people, lands, and natural and mineral resources to her neighbouring countries, one day we may not have a place called Nigeria.

“If urgent actions are not taken by the Federal Government, the entire country will lose the good people of Danare, Biajua in Boki LGA, and some parts of Obanliku LGA of Cross River State to the Republic of Cameroon.

“Cross River State may lose the good people of Danare and Biajua communities in Boki LGA, and their ancestral heritage of the land that they have protected all their lives to the Republic of Cameroon against their wishes and desires.”

Adopting the motion, the House summoned the Director General of the National Boundary Commission and the Surveyor General of the Federation to explain why Pillar 113A has not been located.

The House also resolved to investigate and assess potential land encroachment by Cameroon, consulting with legal experts, land surveyors, and other relevant professionals to comprehensively understand the technical aspects involved in resolving the encroachment.

Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, who presided over the plenary, acknowledged the motion’s significance and referred it to an ad hoc committee composed of technocrats well-versed in the matter.

You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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