CALABAR – Mixed reactions have continued to trail the Supreme Court judgment which awarded the 76 disputed oil wells between Cross River and Akwa Ibom states to the latter just as the chairman of Bakassi Bakassi Local Government Area Dr. Ekpo Bassey has said that the judgment was capable of causing serious security threat to the nation’s coastal line.
Deputy National Secretary of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla said that the state lost the oil wells in 2002 when the International Court of Justice, ICJ, sitting in the Hagues, Netherland ceded the oil-rich peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon, saying that without Bakassi the state could not be regarded as a littoral state.
Obono-Obla said, “I had no doubt that the Supreme Court will not rule otherwise. We lost it in 2002 when the ICJ in its judgment held that Bakassi belong to Cameroon. Without Bakassi, Cross River State cannot be regarded as a littoral State. The elite of the State were too busy pandering to Donald Duke then. The reality has just dawn on that now.
“I just hope that money from these oil wells will well utilised for the development of Akwa Ibom. I want to see depth not the present exhibitionist approach to governance we see in the State. A State like Cross River State should not bother with owning oil wells. Japan has no oil. Singapore has no natural resources but became an advanced industrialised country within 40 years,” he said.
Senate Leader Chief Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, said it was a judgment of the final court and that the state does not have any other recourse than to accept it.
Ndoma-Egba however said that a judgment does not necessarily mean justice, adding that whether the justice was for justice was for posterity to determine and also that whether it expouses the law or complicate it, it was also left for the legal practitioners to determine.
The Bakassi Local Government Chairman, Dr. Bassey said that for the Supreme court to have accepted the map tendered by the National Boundary Commission which was said to be a mere sketch that was not signed by the Surveyor General of the federation on boundary demarcation meant that the neighboring countries could have access to the Calabar waters.
A Calabar based legal practitioner, Mr. Utum Eteng accused the leaders of the state of not being honest and committed with the oil wells matter saying that from the beginning there was no need for the state to go to the court as what was required was political solution.
“I have maintained from the beginning that the issue of Bakassi is a matter that would have been decided through political solution and would have been handled with every amount of honesty and commitment. The government of the state should have been proactive,” he said.
Also commenting on the judgment, the director of administration, ministry of information Chief Oqua Itu, said the Bakassi people were already being catered for by the Cross River state government.
Chief Itu said that the Akwa Ibom people should not be over stressing the issue because a large number of Akwa Ibom were in Cross River doing their business, going to school and doing so many things.
“The consequence is that they are going to be the people who will equally suffer, if they decide to stand by the judgment, I think they should look for a means to settle it amicably and some oil well left for Cross River.
“This is an internal matter, we can’t go to international court of appeal, and they should find a way and truce between the states. The judgment is not fair and is not considerate.”