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« Obasanjo’s Economic Program Failed: Analysis of the 2006 Index of Economic Freedom Report | Main | Creating Level Playing Field: Role of Media »

August 24, 2006

Letter to NASS on Bakassi

by Dr. Baba Adam and Mr. Clement Ikpatt, --- August 21, 2006

Hon. Senators and
Hon. Members of the House of Representatives
National Assembly Complex
Three Arms Zone
Abuja, Nigeria

Dear Distinguished and Honorable Members of the National Assembly:

We are hereby writing to you, Honorable Members of the National Assembly, to correct several wrongs that have been unfairly inflicted upon the Bakassi people through various faults-ridden and unconstitutional processes of ceding the Bakassi Peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon.

We draw your attention to Section 12 of the Constitution, which gives the sole authority to the National Assembly to ratify any treaty or agreement entered into with other nations before such a treaty or agreement has the full force of law.

After the fact of ceding Bakassi on Monday, August 14, 2006, it was reported in several Nigeria daily newspapers that President Obasanjo has sent a letter to the Nigeria National Assembly (NASS) for “expeditious ratification" of the June 12, 2006 Greentree Agreement.

By writing to the National Assembly, the President is once again subverting the judicial branch and the rule of law for the reason that Barr. Femi Falana, representing seven Bakassi indigenes, had filed a case in the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government from expelling or removing Bakassi indigenes from their land. Plaintiffs in the case are Late Chief Tony Ene Asuquo, Chief Orok Eneyo, Chief Emmanuel Effiong Etene, Ndabu Eyo Umo Nakanda, Emmanuel Okokon Asuquo, Ita Okon Nyong, and Richard Ekpenyong.

We believe that President Obasanjo has violated the ratification process as stipulated by the Constitution. The National Assembly, if it ratifies the Greentree Agreement as requested by the President, will do so unconstitutionally.

We like to remind you that the spirit of the Constitution seeks to maintain balance of power among co-equal arms of the government while ensuring fair governance of the people. The NASS is not to engage in quiescent acceptance of unilateral decisions spun and executed by the executive branch.
We believe that the President Obasanjo's actions and letter represent a grand mockery of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a quick fix approach to yet another gross, blatant and impeachable violation of some provisions of the Constitution and a demeaning insult against the esteemed legislative arm of the government. It must be rejected!

We also draw your attention to the fact that Mr. President was not in any way under pressure to hand over Bakassi on August 12, 2006 especially considering the fact that a further extension of the hand-over date was an option of the Greentree Agreement he signed. Regrettably, fellow Nigerians – the Bakassi people – are being denied their right and opportunity to exhaustively challenge their forced exit from Nigeria both at the National Assembly and in the courts of law.

Furthermore, we strongly believe that enforcing the Greentree Agreement to cede Bakassi Local Government Area without corresponding amendment is a violation of Section 3 of the 1999 Constitution. That section stipulates that there are a total of 774 LGAs that constitute an indivisible Federal Republic of Nigeria; Bakassi is one such bona fide LGA of the Cross River State that must not be ceded without due process of Constitutional amendment.

Honorable legislators, we hereby and unequivocally register our deep concerns about the irresponsible and potentially dangerous manner through which the President Obasanjo administration has pursued and finalized the ceding of Bakassi to the Republic of Cameroon “in the name of peace”.

We will like to remind you and our beloved Nigerian people of a similar incident in history: In 1938, former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went to Munich, Germany and signed an agreement with Hitler's Third Reich, which he called “Peace for our time”, ceding the Sudetenland (or Czechoslovakia) to the Germans. Even before the ink dried, the Germans not only reneged on that agreement but invaded most of Europe and thoroughly punished the United Kingdom in the World War II.

In our case, even before handing over the Bakassi peninsula, notoriously brutal gendarmes (army) of the Republic of Cameroon were reportedly violating terms of the agreement in a bold and desperate confirmation of our fears of torture and regional strife that is to come against the Bakassi people. As a former German colony, Cameroon may have learnt something that Nigeria, a former British colony, is yet to learn – history has proven that appeasement does not work! It is also not a wise international policy.

President Obasanjo's argument for the supremacy of an international court ruling over inalienable rights of the Bakassi people cannot be overlooked. Our consolation is that the honorable and patriotic NASS is not subservient to the United Nations, the International Court of Justice or any Western nation but does understand and will readily defend the sovereignty of Nigeria while working to respect international laws.

While we understand the irrepressible power of the President and Commander-In-Chief who, with a stroke of his pen, can consign to ruination the lives of hundreds of thousands of Nigerian citizens, we sincerely believe, hope and look forward to the NASS to assert and reaffirm its Constitutional responsibilities under the checks and balances system in order to foreclose abuses by the Executive branch. If the NASS lets the President get away with this, a massage will have been sent that in the future any President not only can abuse the Constitution but bargain away any part of Nigeria at his whims. That will be a terrible precedence to set!

It is very sad and ironic that our beloved Nigeria, which once sacrificed over one million lives in a civil war to foreclose a break away group, now carelessly and callously wants to cede the Bakassi peninsula and its people who are Nigerians and want to remain Nigerians.

While considering the Report of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee, you have demonstrated beyond doubt that Nigerians can depend on your wisdom and power to the sustain democracy and national integrity even against all odds.

Bakassi indigenes, as well as other Nigerians, have hope and faith in your overturning this unilateral decision by President Obasanjo to cede Bakassi to Cameroon.

If you choose to ratify the Greentree Agreement, we are hereby affirming the inalienable rights of the Bakassi people to self determination through plebiscite, referendum or by any other reasonable means if they choose not to be part of the Republic of Cameroon.

Therefore, we urge the Honorable Members of the National Assembly:

1. To re-affirm the supremacy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which you swore to uphold and defend. As stipulated by the Constitution the role of the NASS is to ratify a treaty or agreement with other nations before it has the full force of law.

2. Not to ratify the Greentree Agreement and to immediately take corrective actions on behalf of the Bakassi people who are Nigerian citizens. Also we urge the NASS not to allocate any funds for resettlement until all issues are fully resolved.
3. To assess the possible impact of handing over of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon. This assessment should include impact on oil and gas exploration, security, maritime and fishing implications… knowing that Bakassi is the gateway to the Niger-Delta region that produces nearly 90% of the nations Gross Domestic Product.

4. Revisit and assess the full implications of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling for flaws (especially the misrepresentation of facts by Cameroon and the ICJ’s minority opinions) and all options that Nigeria should have conveniently exercised. The ICJ’s decision of 2002 has no binding effect on Nigeria. This conclusion is based on statues of the ICJ of June 26, 1945 as elaborated in articles 59, 60, and 62. The provisions of these articles were not explored and fully exhausted by the ICJ while arbitrating the Nigeria-Cameroon dispute over Bakassi.

5. To affirm legal statues and codes that stand violated by President Obasanjo, Governor Donald Duke and their agents in the illegal and unconstitutional schemes to expel or remove Bakassi indigenes from the Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State (please refer to Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) and Act (Cap10) Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990).

6. To hold the executive branch accountable toward ensuring the safety and protection of the Bakassi residents from further harassment and humiliation by both Cameroonian military and civilians.

7. To call on the United Nations to respect its own Declaration of Indigenous Rights and immediately conduct a plebiscite for the Bakassi people to decide their nationality and future:

Part II, Article 10 - Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with option of return and

Part VII, Article 32 - Indigenous peoples have the collective right to determine their own citizenship in accordance with their customs and traditions. Indigenous citizenship does not impair the right of indigenous individuals to obtain citizenship of the states in which they live.

We thank you very much for your consideration.


Dr. Baba Adam and
Mr. Clement Ikpatt
P.O. Box 381, Claymont, DE 19703 USA

Posted by Administrator at August 24, 2006 07:36 AM


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