Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bakassi Can Be Reclaimed — Falana.

Rights activist and Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has said that Nigeria can still reclaim Bakassi Peninsula lost to Cameroun after a legal battle at the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

Speaking as a guest in a Channels Television, Lagos programme Friday morning, Falana admitted that Nigeria cannot appeal the ICJ judgement that gave Bakassi to Cameroun, but argued that the country could still seek a review of the judgement.
 
Falana frowned at the way the Bakassi issue was prosecuted, noting that $300 million was spent on the project, stressing, “we messed up the case.”
 
He said if Nigeria should go before the ICJ to seek a review of its judgement that gave Bakassi to Cameroun, it would succeed and reclaim Bakassi based on fresh facts that have just emerged.
 
One of the facts, according to Falana, is that the ICJ, in its judgement, outlined certain agreements which Cameroun must respect. These include: respect for the culture of the Bakassi people and non-imposition of taxes, but Falana said Cameroun has violated all the agreements.
 
He stated that Bakassi is still recognised in the constitution of Nigeria and that till date, about N2.5 billion was allocated to Bakassi monthly, making her rank fourth out of the 774 local governments in Nigeria.
Falana insisted that with the fresh evidence at its disposal, Nigeria could approach the ICJ for a review and it would not bring any embarrassment since the law provides that a review could still be done within 10 years of the judgement.
 
He berated the Nigerian government for not doing enough to protect the interest of its citizens.
Falana cited the example of an incident in the Gambia when the West African country put two Senegalese, two Nigerians and others on the death row but a Nigerian NGO, SERAP, filed an action before the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, court which ordered that further action on the matter be put on hold.
 
“The same thing is happening now. Saudi Arabia collected money from Nigerian female pilgrims through her embassy in Abuja and issued them with visa. At the point of entry, they (Saudi) said the women could not perform the Hajj because they were not accompanied by men. Saudi knew they were not accompanied by men when they applied and paid for visa,” Falana said, adding that they were only interested in collecting money from the Nigerian pilgrims.
 
He argued that Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister should have recalled Nigeria’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia that the Presidency should have taken retaliatory measures and declared a diplomatic face-off, adding, “our country must plan to respect the interest of our people.”
 
However, another senior advocate, Sebastine Hon, disagreed with Falana, saying, “Nigeria’s application for review of ICJ judgement may not succeed because international politics is involved.”
 
Hon who was contributing to the same television programme suggested that instead of government dissipating energy on review of the ICJ judgement which can result in embarrassment, it should resettle the people of Bakassi in Cross River and Rivers states. 
 
- PM News.

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