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Akpabio Wants Urgent Reprieve For Bakassi Returnees

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UYO, September 01, (THEWILL) - The Akwa Ibom State government has warned against undue politicisation of the sufferings faced by the displaced people of Bakassi, emphasising that Bakassi Peninsula was about people who lost their land, property, territory and means of survival in the aftermath of the Judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and not just about oil, as being touted in some quarters.

This call was made during a fact-finding visit to the state by the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Agreement, led by its chairman, Hon. Dayo Bush-Alebiosu.

Addressing the delegation on Saturday at the Banquet Hall, Uyo, venue of the stakeholders interactive session with the House of Representatives committee, Governor Godswill Akpabio, represented by the secretary to the state government, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, expressed dissatisfaction with the alleged maltreatment of Akwa Ibom indigenes, who are residing and carrying out their normal fishing businesses in the Bakassi area, by the Camerounian authorities, and made a case for the federal government to address the ugly development.

Akpabio described as frustrating, the continued suffering experienced by returnees from the state, who looked up to Akwa lbom State government for their shelter, means of livelihood and general survival.

He noted that Akwa Ibom State has been a victim of the entire Bakassi saga with its communities moved by executive fiat without any provision for their welfare or alternative home.

He told the fact-finding committee that the real owners of Bakassi are yet to be compensated by the federal government, adding that those who benefitted from the compensation were not the real Bakassi owners.

He expressed hope that their visit would bring to rest, series of stories and fabrications that had been peddled against the innocent and law-abiding Akwa Ibom people resident in the peninsular.

Chairman of the fact-finding committee, Hon Dayo Bush-Alebiosu said his committee was making progress with its assignment, following the submissions so far received from those he described as the “real victims and owners of Bakassi.”

Mr. Bush-Alebiosu. who had earlier toured the settlements of the Bakassi people at the Ibaka and Okobo areas, said he was impressed by the volume of information gathered in the state regarding areas of breaches of the Green Tree Agreement.

The law maker explained that following complaints of human rights abuse and other related inhuman treatments allegedly meted on Nigerians who are residing and doing business in the disputed Bakassi Peninsula ceded to Cameron, the Federal House of Representatives mandated his committee to commence investigation into the matter to ascertain the level of allege breach of the Green Tree Agreement by the Camerounian authorities.

However, stakeholders who made various submissions before the National Assembly Committee in Uyo all lamented the annexing of Bakassi to Cross River State by the military administration of Late Gen Sanni Abacha, and subsequent loss of the territory to Cameroun.

They include the member representing Okobo in the House of Assembly, Mr. Efefiong Antigha; president of Okobo community in Bakassi, Mr. Anthony Ukpong; clan head of Ebughu, Ovong Edet.O.Isemin; head of Civil Service, Mrs. Cecila Udoessien; president, Atlantic Deep Sea Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Prince Umojoya Ogunfeyimi among others.