The House of Representatives on Thursday asked the Federal Government to initiate the process of conducting a referendum for the “Bakassi people, who are Nigerians.”
A motion by a member representing Bakassi in the House, Mr. Ekpenyong Ayi, urged support for the rights of his people to self determination.
Ayi cited Article I of the 1966 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and Article 15 (2) of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to buttress the demand.
He noted that the UN declaration provided thus, “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of nationality or denied the right to change his nationality.”
According to Ayi, the referendum had become necessary, following the ceding of Bakassi to the Republic of Cameroun.
He stated that the Nigerians in Bakassi had a right to decide whether to live there or leave.
“This guarantees Nigerian nationals living in Bakassi the right to exercise their fundamental rights and freedom enshrined in the international human rights law,” Ayi added.
An attempt by a member, Mr. Oke Jev, to oppose the motion was overruled.
Jev had argued that Bakassi was already a territory outside Nigeria by virtue of the judgment of the International Court of Justice, which the federal government failed to appeal last October.
Ruling in favour of the motion, the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, raised three questions.
He asked, “Do we still have Bakassi in the Nigerian Constitution?
“Are there Nigerians, who feel they are not Camerounians?
“Has the ceding of Bakassi come to the knowledge of the National Assembly?”
Members replied “yes” to the first two questions and “no” to the last.
But, his colleagues, including Mr. Abubakar Momoh, disagreed with Jev.
Momoh recalled that the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroun in 2006 did not comply with the provisions of Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“By the provision of this section, the National Assembly is to endorse any treaty between Nigeria and another country.
“We did not take part in the whole exercise.”