Bakassi natives numbering about 1,000 yesterday staged a peaceful protest over alleged ill- treatments and indignities meted out to them in recent times.
Specifically, the natives were said to be protesting the alleged plot to deny Cross River State the statue of being an oil-producing, ostensibly because there were fears that the state might not get fair hearing in the on-going 76 oil wells litigations before the Supreme Court.
This protest, which is coming barely three weeks to the Supreme Court judgment over the disputed 76 oil wells between Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, is said to have continued to draw mixed feelings from within and outside the country.
Since the ceding of 76 oil wells to neighbouring Akwa Ibom State, there had been no love lost between the two brother states.There were also speculations, however, that the Supreme Court had set aside July 10 to deliver judgment on the contentious issue. The protesters, who were said to have carried placards bearing inscriptions such as, “Bakassi Belongs to Nigeria, Federal Government Save Her”, “Bakassi People Refuse to be Part of Cameroon”, among others, later moved through the streets to the Cross River State governor’s office to register their displeasure.
Speaking to journalists during the protest, the leader of the Bakassi natives, Hon. Ani Essien, said: “A lot of things were promised before the ceding by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. He promised the ceding would be painless and that the Bakassi people would lose nothing. The Federal Government said we would not lose our identity, land or resources.”
“We are soon going to July 10, and we are vexed that 10 years after the judgment of the International Court of Justice that ceded Bakassi to Cameroon, we have lost everything. Even though the Supreme Court is expected to deliver judgment on July 10 over the 76 oil wells which Cross River State wants the apex court to revert its ownership from Akwa Ibom State to, the indigenes of the state, particularly indigenes of Bakassi local government area have protested alleged leakage of the court’s verdict believed to be in favour of Akwa Ibom State.
Receiving their protest letter, Governor Liyel Imoke, who just arrived from a trip to Lagos, commended the people for the peaceful protest, saying it was within their right do so.