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Obasanjo Rules Out War Over Bakassi

Posted by on 10/22/2002 8:14:58 AM | Views: 218 |

Obasanjo Rules Out War Over Bakassi

Nigeria will not go to war against Cameroun over Bakassi Peninsula, Presi-dent Olusegun Obasanjo has said.

Obasanjo made the clarification yesterday when he received a delegation of Niger Delta delegation at the State House, Abuja.

But in Calabar, the Cross River State government yesterday called on Obasanjo to relieve Kanu Agabi of his appointment as Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation for reportedly saying that Bakassi be handed over to Cameroon since the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is economically beneficial to Nigeria.

Following the award of the oil-rich peninsula to Cameroun by the ICJ two weeks ago there have been calls on the Federal Government to ignore the verdict.

Responding to the call of the delegation from Niger Delta on the government to take up the Bakassi peninsula issue with the United Nations or ICJ, Obasanjo assured that whatever step the Federal Government takes will be pacifist.

Said he: "I assure you that Nigeria will pursue a course of peace in the interest of the welfare and well-being of Nigerians. On no account will we abandon Nigerians in Bakassi without looking after their interest."

The delegation which came under the auspices of Community Development Committees (CDC) of oil and gas producing states was led by Senator Fred Brume of Delta Central Senatorial District.

The CDC had urged the president to "take up the issue of self-determination and independence of Southern Cameroon including Bakassi Peninsula to the United Nations or the International Court on the request of the Southern Cameroonians as decided by an Abuja High court earlier on this matter."

Obasanjo also promised that the Federal Government will soon issue a comprehensive statement on the Bakassi issue. The statement, Obasanjo said, will take into account all views garnered from the on-going consultations especially those of states sharing boundary with the Republic of Cameroon. Some of such states include Borno, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States.

In Calabar, the Cross River State government yesterday asked Obasanjo to sack Agabi, over his reported statement that Nigeria stands to gain enormous offshore oil reserves as a result of the ICJ judgement.

In a statement signed by the governor's special assistant media relations, Mr. Dominic Kidzu, the Cross River State government said its people felt betrayed by Agabi's comment.

"We feel betrayed by the position of the minister not only because he is the chief law officer of the country but also because he is our son who is occuping Cross River State's slot in the federal cabinet.

"We have no doubt that the honourable minister's position does not represent his legal opinion but his political bias and feel strongly that he has let down the people of Bakassi, Cross River and indeed Nigerians, by his ill-motivated submissions.

"For the above reasons therefore, we are asking his Excellency, the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to relieve Mr. Kanu Agabi of his appointment as Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation," the statement read.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State House of Assembly urged the Federal Government to respect the ruling of the ICJ.

Moving a motion under matters of urgent public importance, Hon. Tunde Oyewo from Amuwo Odofin I, argued that Nigeria lost the battle in the World Court due to negligence and international politics.

The motion which was seconded by Hon. Olarewaju Ope from Lagos Island II also urged the Federal Government to set up political and diplomatic machinery to resolve the issue.

Besides the Bakassi issue, the CDC also yesterday sought increased funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The group, however, asked that the commission be subjected to the monitoring of the CDC -- which shall act as the "People's Force" in ensuring that projects awarded in the region are not phoney nor over-budgetted and also to determine the propriety of projects in the communities as well as overseeing the contractors involved.

Responding, Obasanjo said that the NDDC would adopt a "bottom-up" approach in the initiation and implementation of development projects.

He said the NDDC would involve the CDC "in the initiation building, ownership and maintenance of projects" in the region.

While thanking the delegation for their visit, Obasanjo promised to pursue the dualisation of the Warri-Port-harcourt Road, the extension of power transmission lines from the national grid to all parts of the Niger Delta and the provision of potable water and healthcare services to more inhabitants of the area.

The CDC, while lamenting that the Niger Delta had been a victim of prolonged neglect, Brume stated that "the Niger Delta is the unfortunate goose that lays the golden egg but does not partake in it."

The group also declared support for Obasanjo's re-election while condemning the impeachment move from the National Assembly.

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