Following years of a border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon, the International Court of Justice, in its Judgment of 10 October 2002, ruled that the sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula lies with Cameroon.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate and assess the case of potential land encroachment by the Cameroonian Government and consult with legal experts, land surveyors, and other relevant professionals to ensure a thorough understanding of the Anglo-German agreement of 1913 the technical aspect involved in resolving the encroachment.
The House also resolved to call on the Cameroon-Nigeria mixed Commission to respect the Anglo-German Agreement of 1913 as adopted by the ICJ by tracing and maintaining the original location of pillar 113A in the forest.
The lawmakers further invited the Director General of the National Boundary Commission and Surveyor General of the Federation to appear before the House’s relevant committee to explain why pillar 113A has not been found.
These resolutions follow the adoption of a motion brought by Rep. Victor Abang, representing Boki/Ikom Federal Constituency and other lawmakers from Cross River State.
Presenting the motion, Abang noted that the demarcation and ceding of Danare and Biajua Communities in Boki Local Government Area of Cross Rivers State of Nigeria, through Pillar 113A to the Republic of Cameroon has brought nothing but uncertainty and crises in the locality.
According to him, “on October 10, 2002, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the proprietorship of the Bakassi penninsula belongs to Cameroon, due to an agreement between the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon during the civil war.
“Also notes that in July 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Cross River State had no right of ownership of over 76 oil wells due to the loss of its littoral status when portions of the peninsula were ceded to Cameroon by the Federal Government of Nigeria, the apex court stated that Cross River State no longer had maritime territory and consequently could not claim offshore oil wells; Further notes that the ICJ ruling decides the retracing of the Cameroon-Nigeria International Boundary line from the Lake Chad region (Yola) to the Atlantic Ocean (Bakassi); subsequently United Nations (UN) set up two Committees to implement the judgment which led to the establishment of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC), made up of representatives from Nigeria, Cameroon and officials of the United Nations.
“Aware that the Nigeria delegation was led by the Attorney General of the Federation while Cameroon was represented by the Deputy Prime Minister; Also aware that the fieldwork which involves the location of the boundary points and placement of boundary pillars by the judgment was undertaken by a Joint Technical Team (JTT), a sub-body of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, with both countries.
“Representatives on the JTT while technical expertise is supplied by a foreign contractor and paid by the CNMC; Cognizant that the field exercise or demarcation conducted by the JTT must be an adopted demarcation in any sector considered valid and conclusive by the CNMC; Also cognizant that according to the Anglo-German agreement of the Cameroon-Nigeria boundary of 12 April 1913, a total of 114 boundary pillars from the Lake Chad region (Yola Adamawa State) to Agbokim in Etung Local Government of Area of Cross River State, planted by the Anglo-German had serial numbers written on the pillars, six of the boundary pillars fall within the Danare community in Boki Local Government Area of Cross Rivers State, the international boundary its include; 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, and 113A respectively.”
The members further worried that the Anglo-German agreement clearly states that the contextual pillar 113A is 9.6 Km from pillar 113 into the forest leading to pillar 114 that fall in Agbokim in Etung Local Government Area was yet to be traced.
They also noted that the JTT has not located pillar 113A. As such, are planning to adopt a straight-line method, which would lead to losing Danare and Biajua communities as well as about 7,000–10,000 hectares of land in the Boki Area of Cross Rivers State to the Republic of Cameroon; Also notes that the ICJ judgment adopted the Anglo-German boundary of 1913 as the boundary between the two countries, the job of the CNMC through the JTT, therefore, was to locate this boundary and reinforce it for certainty under the principles of federalism, natural justice, and equity.
While stressing that the Federal Government has the responsibility to protect the territorial integrity of all federating units, and not unilaterally cede, sell, mortgage, or allocate any part of a federating unit to another country without the consent of the House, the lawmakers noted that the lack of concerted effort by the JTT to trace a critical pillar point that will determine the correct boundary line has generated controversy.
“It is a worrisome situation, that even when the team understands that they are lacking in their assignment because a critical pillar is yet to be retraced, instead of the team going back and doing the needful, they decided to propose a straight-line projection to close the gap between pillar 113 to 114. Also worried that 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;
Concerned that 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; Also concerned that, 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, that if a country like Nigeria keeps losing her people, lands, and natural and mineral resources to her neighboring countries, one day we may not have a place called Nigeria,” the lawmakers lamented.