Appeal Bakassi Ceding Now: Senate Tells Jonathan

In a race against time, Nigeria’s Senate has asked the President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately appeal the judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that ceded the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon because the cessation is unconstitutional as it was not domesticated by the National Assembly.

Following the legal tussle between Nigeria and Cameroun, On October 9, 2002 the ICJ ruled that the Bakassi should be ceded to Cameroun.

However, with barely weeks to the expiration, (precisely October 9th ) of a window for appeal failure of  which Bakassi will forever be ceded to cameroun, The senate seems to be on a mad rush to take advantage of the right of appeal as guaranteed for in Article 61 (5) of the ICJ Statute.

Article 61 (5) of the ICJ Statute that provides Nigeria a window of appeal states inter alia that, “An application for revision of a judgement may be made when it is based upon the discovery of some facts of such a nature as to be a decisive factor, which fact was, when the judgement was given, unknown to the Court and also to the party claiming revision, always provided that such ignorance was not due to negligence.”

The resolution of the Senate followed a motion sponsored by Senator Abdul Ningi. Sen. Ningi said there is “the lack of faithful implementation of the “Green Tree Agreement” signed by both the Cameroun and Nigeria; thereby violating the basis of the implementation of the court judgement.

Articles 3(1) and 2 (a) of the green Tree Agreement” stipulate that, after the transfer of the territory to cameroun, the cameroonian should guarantee the Nigerian nationals living in the Bakassi peninsula the exercise of their fundamental human rights and other relevant provisions of the international law.”

Sen. Ningi, who said new facts have emerged after the ruling that were not available before the first trial coupled with the absence of a Nigeria legal representation also said the article of the Vienna convention provides that every judgment of the ICJ is seen as a treaty and must be domesticated by the national assembly.

“This legislature has not domesticated the judgment so it is not binding on Nigeria. No treaty shall have the force of law until it is recognized by the constitution. Our Constitution has Bakassi peninsula as a part and parcel of Nigeria.

“We as parliament must speak with one voice and never make it history other wise it will continue to repeat itself.

“People kept quite because it was occupied by minority of the minority. If they were from a majority they would not have been treated the way they were. Because they don’t speak Igbo or Hausa we say let them go.”

Sen Ningi while emphasising the need for urgency in appealing the cessation said “the dateline of the judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the international boundaries between Nigeria and Cameroun including Bakassi that cedes Bakassi Island from the federal Republic of Nigeria to the Republic of Cameroun would expire by October 9th, 2012 and the territory would belong to Republic of Cameroun forever.”

“We are ready to appeal. Let the federal government appeal. We are ready to fund the legal processes. If the problem is money we will fund it.”
Ningi said.

On his part the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, who said he will personally write the president Jonathan on the matter said Bakassi cannot be ceded to Cameroon, assuring that the Senate will set in motion all legislative processes to ensure that the judgment is over turned in favour of Nigeria.

“The resolution that we need to make is that Bakassi should not be ceded to Cameroons. I think that is the final objective of our decision.

“If we do not go to an appeal at all while we have subjected ourselves to the international court, I think that will be a grievous mistake. There is room for us to appeal, going on an appeal is a line of action that we should not reject, if that is what is available through the court, we should utilize it. I think that is the most appropriate thing to now, the most we should do now is to quickly rush an appeal in spite what the President said at the UN.

“We have obeyed the international court to this point, but we still do not accept it. It is not that we accept it we have simply obeyed their decision. We have not accepted it, there is a lot of pressure at home here and I think it is the belief of every Nigerians that we should not cede Bakassi, not the way it has happened. I think that is really where the problem is.”

“There is a host of other things, letters written to National Assembly are actually here and we on our part have not done anything. We have neither rejected it or said anything. They just came and went like that.

“We will revisit the letters and whilst we are urging the Federal Government to go on an appeal, we on our part will revisit the letters and see what we can do from our own side, may be to quickly again come up with a debate and then reject it and forward it to buttress our points and to buttress our resolutions arrived at today.”

An emotional laden leader of the Senate, Sen. Victor Ndoma Egba, said ” I was in this senate when the process of ceding Bakassi commenced in the 6th senate, he said despite three motions by then Senator representing Bakassi, Sen. Ewa Henshaw, asking the federal government to tarry a while and consult the partliament they went ahead with it.

In supporting the motion, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba described Cross River state “as the immediate victim and high-handedness of the issue, who are minorities of the minority, the helpless and the hapless.”

“Bakassi was not ceded by Cross River state; it was ceded by the federal government in spite of the state, which now demands protection from the Nigerian state as a people who are part of Nigeria.

“Bakassi was ceded inspite of the people who kept protest but nobody listened because they were minority of the minorities. At the time of ceding Bakassi, cross river state had not governor because his election was annuled at the time. I cried myself hoarse that it will come with security challenges. What was the hurry? The issue of Bakassi will go down in the Guinness books of world record as the fastest treaty done. There are Treaties done since 1930′s still pending so what is the hurry? Why were the people of Bakassi and the Senate not important in this decision.

He said the Federal government is “under a legal obligation to pay compensation in our own case because we are the minority of minorities.
Our land, ancestry and history of our forebears were buried there. And you cede the land and the Nigerian state is quiet and what we have is punishment. If the Nigerian state cannot protect cross river, let this senate protect cross river.

“We must take this process to constitution amendment to demand for a review of the treaty. We must be part of the treaty to avoid these issues.

I have been loyal to this country, I have been a patriotic Nigerian, and so have my people. I believe my people have paid very high price for the unity of this country at least put us back where we were.

On his part, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe asked “in which part of this world those a country willingly give away its territory? You cannot say that because they are a small minority then they don’t matter. It is a father that is weak that does not go into a fight and accepts that the child is an aggressor”

He added that experts, on the history of that region were never consulted by the Nigerian legal team during the litigation of the case in the ICJ.

Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, urged the federal government to proceed to re-possess the lost territory, without recourse to an appeal, which he doubts, may not be diligently prosecuted.

He said, “We have barely less than two weeks for an appeal and we have two options; one is to appeal the judgement while the second option is to go back to Bakassi  and repossess it. Nigeria is supposed to be the leader in Africa and it is unfortunate that some people, due to pecuniary reasons, ceded Bakassi to Cameroon. If Nigeria had not elected to appeal the ICJ judgement, there would have been no case, when we were in physical possession of Bakassi. Can we sit here as a Senate and say, legally speaking, that Bakassi has been cede to Cameroon? The answer is no. With the attitude the federal government, I do not believe that in the event of an appeal, it will be vigorously pursued. The best thing to do is for Nigeria to go and repossess Bakassi.

“Today, Nigerians living in Bakassi are treated like animals, since the condition precedent which is the domestication before ceding, was not followed.”

Sen. George Akume who was governor at the time said the decision on Bakassi was tabled before the National Council of States by the then President Obasanjo for advise. “We were meant to understand that they were the best legal minds in the world, especially with the former president of the ICJ, Chief Ajibola heading the team. No plebecite was held on the matter. The crux of the matter is that before you move people you must ask for their conscent. We should take up the matter as quickly as possible”

Also contributing, the Senator representing Cross River South, Bassey Out noted that, “A nation that cannot take care of the lives of its people is not worth its salt. The ICJ judgement is a negation of human existence itself. The ICJ judgement has never been respected in the whole world, except in Nigeria; we have all the facts that Bakassi belongs to Nigeria.
And it is not too late to appeal as we have fresh facts.

Sen. Ita Enang,  who said letters from the then President Obasanjo on the matter came to the National Assembly at that time however said “Nigeria should appeal the ICJ judgement; a treaty is not self-executing as section 12 of the 1999 constitution requires that treaties are domesticated and even without domestication of the Green Tree Agreement, the executive went ahead to cede Bakassi to Cameroon. Nigeria must urgently seek leave to appeal the judgement, as the process of ceding is inchoate.”

Source: Pointblanknews

Publish Date: 

Thursday, 27 September 2012