By SONI DANIEL, ASSISTANT EDITOR

 


ABUJA—Indications emerged yesterday that Nigeria might call for a review of the International Court of Justice, ICJ,  ruling of October 10, 2002, which ceded the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula, to Cameroun.

LETTERS OF CREDENCE—President Goodluck Jonathan (right), receiving letters of credence from the Jamaican Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs Ann Scott, while the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, looks on in Abuja, yesterday.

The deadline for Nigeria to appeal the ruling expires on October 9, 2012, which is Tuesday next week.

Eminent Nigerians have spoken in favour of Nigeria’s appeal against the ruling, arguing that there was nothing wrong in doing so, at least, to put it on record that it took steps to quash the judgment, as stipulated in Article 61 of the ICJ law.

Vanguard gathered that following mounting pressure from within and outside the country, President Goodluck Jonathan had decided to appeal the ruling, which he had earlier described as closed.

As a prelude to taking steps to review the ruling, President Jonathan is said to have summoned top government officials to what a source described as ‘a crucial meeting’ today to discuss the best way of going about it.The source, who did not want to be named because he had not been authorised to speak on the matter, said the meeting, which would be presided over by President Jonathan, would review the new information said to have been put at the disposal of the government after the ICJ judgment.

Legal team

The meeting, it was learnt, would also consider a crack legal team to handle the appeal for Nigeria following the criticism that has attended the team that represented the country during the 2002 hearing.

Among those said to have been invited to the emergency meeting are; the Senate President, David Mark, House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke, Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke and  Chairmen of the National Assembly Committees on Special Duties, Judiciary and Foreign Affairs.

Others are the Director General of the National Boundary Commission, Chairman of Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission and all members of the National Assembly from Cross River State.

It was also gathered that the Presidency had mandated the Senate and House of Representatives leadership to invite relevant committees of the National Assembly to the meeting, which is slated for 9pm today.

Last week, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution mandating the President to appeal against the ICJ ruling ceding Bakassi to Cameroun because of the new facts that had emerged over the matter.

The motion that gave rise to the resolution was sponsored by Senator Abdul Ningi, representing Bauchi Central, who argued that it would be wrong for Nigeria not to appeal the judgment, as there was still a window of opportunity for Nigeria to do so before October 9.

The resolution reads in part, “The Senate accordingly urges the Federal Government to invoke Article 61 of the ICJ status to appeal the said judgment in the interest of Nigerians in the affected areas, including Bakassi.”

Senate wants FG to appeal ruling

Senate President, who presided over the plenary said, “I think appeal is a line of action that should not be neglected because that is legal, since Nigeria subjected itself to the court. “If that is what is available through the court, we should also utilise it. I think that is the most appropriate thing to do at this point in time.

“We urge the Federal Government to go on appeal, we on our part will revisit the letters and see what we can do, may be to quickly come up with a debate on the letters and then resend it to buttress our points and resolution that was arrived at today.

“Part of what the President said at the UN and I think the man is right, and I think he infers that to mean that we have obeyed the International Court to this point but we still do not accept the judgment.”

Mark added that Nigeria was obeying the ruling does not mean it accepted it, because there is a lot of pressure at home.”

New facts

Ningi argued that emerging new facts had shown that the judgment was erroneously based on the agreement between the British authorities and the Calabar Chiefs in 1884, adding that there has never been a precedent in history where any case of this nature was executed without a referendum as enshrined by the United Nations.

He said: “The lack of faithful implementation of the Green Tree Agreement signed by both countries violates the basis for the implementation of the court judgment.”

Bakassi natives protest

Last week, natives of Bakassi Peninsula stormed Abuja with what they called ‘fresh and incontrovertible evidence’ to assist the Federal Government in reclaiming Bakassi but could not submit to any government officials.

The Coordinator of the ‘Save Bakassi Group’ in the FCT, Mr. Solomon Inameti, told Vanguard in an interview that they were ready to assist the Federal Government with fresh evidence that was not available at the time of the judgment to be able to move forward with a review.

Inameti said, “We have 100 new information and we are ready to give to the Nigerian Government to use and approach the ICJ and conveniently pursue this case to a logical conclusion.

“To the best of our knowledge, the evidence is concrete enough to secure us victory at the ICJ and the Federal Government can take us for our words.

“We went out of our way to secure this vital information that was not there before to assist the Federal Government because we believe that it is in our own interest to continue to remain in Nigeria.

“Let us make it categorically clear that no matter what happens we will not accept Cameroun as our own country. Subjugating us to Cameroun would not only be humiliating but dehumanizing to us and our generations yet unborn.

“Anyone who thinks that we the people of Bakassi can come under Cameroun is wasting time because that will not work. We are ready to go to the United Nations and seek a referendum on where we want to be and how we should be administered.

“If the Federal Government does not want us we will approach the UN at the end of October 10, 2012 to seek the way forward for ourselves and our respective communities in Bakassi,” Inameti said.

A historian, who is very familiar with the Bakassi history, Mr. Emmanuel Doh, said the AGF had no reason to hesitate in approaching the ICJ for the immediate review of the 2002 judgment given the weight of evidence now at his disposal.

Doh pointed out that Cameroun even committed a serious blunder by the way and manner it adjusted the boundary between it and Southern Cameroon encompassing Bakassi, after the African Union had asked all countries to respect their boundaries with other nations.

Doh said Cameroun’s  fraudulent boundary  adjustment coupled with numerous actions, which the UN and the ICJ were not aware of at the time of the ruling in 2002, were enough to swing judgment in Nigeria’s favour, if a review was sought.

 

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