Saturday, 1 September 2012

Akwa Ibom seeks Urgent Reprieve For Bakassi Returnees

The Akwa Ibom State government has warned against undue politicization of the sufferings faced by the displaced Bakassi people, emphasising that Bakassi Peninsula was about people who lost their land, property, territory and means of survival in the aftermath of the lCJ Judgement and not just about oil as touted in some quarters.

This call was made during a fact finding visit to the state by the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Agreement, led by its Chairman Hon Dayo Bush-Alebiosu.

Addressing the delegation yesterday at the Banquet Hall, Uyo, venue of the stakeholders interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee, Governor Godswill Akpabio, represented by the secretary to the state government, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, expressed dissatisfaction at the alleged maltreatment of Akwa Ibom indigenes who are residing and carrying out their normal fishing businesses in the Bakassi area, by the Camerounian authorities, and made a case for the federal government to address the ugly development.    

Governor Akpabio described as frustrating the continued suffering experienced by returnees from the State who looked up to Akwa lbom State Government for their shelter, means of livelihood and general survival.                                                                    
He noted that Akwa Ibom state had been a victim of the entire  Bakassi saga with its communities moved by executive fiat without any provision for their welfare or alternative home.

He told the fact finding committee that the real owners of Bakassi are yet to be compensated by the federal government adding that those who benefitted from the compensation were not the real Bakassi owners.

The governor expressed hope that their visit would bring to rest, series of stories and fabrications that had been peddled against the innocent and law-abiding Akwa Ibom people resident in the peninsular.

The chairman of the fact finding committee Hon Dayo Bush-Alebiosu said that his committee has been able to make a ‘headway’ in its assignment, following the submissions so far received from those he described as the “real victims and owners of Bakassi”.

Mr. Bush-Alebiosu who had earlier toured the settlements of the Bakassi people at the Ibaka and Okobo areas, said he was impressed by the volume  of information gathered in the state regarding areas of breaches of the Green Tree Agreement.                                                       
The law maker explained that following complaints of human rights abuse and other related inhuman treatments allegedly meted on Nigerians who are residing and doing business in the disputed Bakassi Peninsula, that  which was ceded to the Republic of Cameron by the International Court of Justice, the Federal House of Representatives mandated his committee to commenced investigation into the matter with a view to ascertaining the level of allege breach of the Green Tree Agreement by the Camerounian authorities.

However stakeholders who made various submissions before the National Assembly Committee in Uyo all lamented the annexing of Bakassi to Cross River State by the military administration of Late Gen Sanni Abacha, and subsequent loss of the territory to Cameroun.

They included the member representing Okobo in the House of Assembly Mr. Efefiong Antigha,  , President of Okobo community in Bakassi, Mr, Anthony Ukpong, Clan Head of Ebughu,Ovong Edet.O.Isemin, Head of Civil Service Mrs. Cecila Udoessien, , President Atlantic Deep Sea Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Prince Umojoya Ogunfeyimi among others.  

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