By INYALI PETER, Calabar
A group under the aegis of Association of Bakassi Aborigines (A.B.A) has charged the United Nations and Nigeria Government to grant plebiscite or referendum on the displaced people of Bakassi should they want peace to reign.
Briefing journalists in Calabar, National President of the Association, Comrade Maurice Bassey Asuquo, said that the plebiscite is necessary as it will give the displaced people of Bakassi the ample opportunity to determine the country of their choice between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Asuquo who accused the Nigeria military of intimidating and harassing the displaced people also called on the federal government to immediately withdraw troops from the oil rich Bakassi peninsular which was ceded to Republic of Cameroon.
According to him, “We called on the UN Secretary General and federal Government to create room for a plebiscite so as to vote where we want to belong.
“We agree that there was a plebiscite of 1961 but then such a plebiscite is long out dated because even after the plebiscite the territory continued on territory of Nigeria with no complain until about 1997 when Cameroon went to court.”
The association president maintained that though the federal government have the right to protect lives and properties in the area, drafting of troop can only be done when there is agitation and stressing that the constant presence of the military in the area is making lives unbearable for the residence.
”We called for the granting of amnesty to misguided youths who have been forced to take up arms. For there’s no problem that cannot be solved through the use of dialogue even though these youths had been misled to carry arms”, he added.
The Aborigines urged the Federal Government to with no further delay initiate a dialogue where the people can discuss on how to promote and facilitate speedy remediation of the already volatile militant built-up in the peninsular.
Speaking on the topic, “Unnecessary Military Build-Up and Occupation of New Bakassi Lands and intimidation of Displaced People of Bakassi’, Legal Adviser to the Association, Barrister Etta Okpa, of the Kanu Agabi`s Chambers, noted that dialogue was the only panacea for resolving the building conflict in the area.
Etta said that the Nigeria Military had taken undue advantage of the situation instead of imploring dialogue to salvage the situation.
He said, “Recently, soldiers from the 13 Amphibious Brigade invaded communities and camps in the New Bakassi settlements which are not at war with Nigeria. We vehemently condemned this new wave of state sponsored violence against the displaced, innocent and law abiding people of Bakassi”.