by Stanley Azuakola
It’s official. Today Nigeria says goodbye to Bakassi.
Perhaps foreshadowing the morning nation-wide address by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday morning, the Federal Government said on Monday night that it had decided to comply with the judgment of the International Court of Justice which awarded the disputed Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. With the FG confirmation, the weeks of speculation about whether the administration might seek a review of the ruling has been laid to rest.
In coming to this conclusion, the executive not only ignored calls by both chambers of the National Assembly, which urged it to appeal the verdict, but also the pleas by the Bakassi people who emphasised that there are new documents which can tilt the case in Nigeria’s favour.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, who released a statement in Abuja last night, said that the committee constituted by government and a firm of international lawyers retained by government came to the conclusion that “an application for a review is virtually bound to fail“ and that “a failed application will be diplomatically damaging to Nigeria”.
According to Adoke’s statement:
“In view of the foregoing, the Federal Government is of the informed view that with less than two days to the period when the revision will be statute barred (9th October, 2012), it would be impossible for Nigeria to satisfy the requirements of Articles 61(1) -(5) of the ICJ Statute.
“Government has therefore decided that it will not be in the national interest to apply for revision of the 2002 ICJ Judgment in respect of the Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria.”
Adoke however said that the government “is however concerned about the plight of Nigerians living in the Bakassi Peninsula and the allegations of human rights abuses being perpetrated against Nigerians in the Peninsula and is determined to engage Cameroon within the framework of the existing implementation mechanisms agreed to by Nigeria and Cameroon in order to protect the rights and livelihoods of Nigerians living in the Peninsula.
He said that Nigeria “will also not relent in seeking appropriate remedies provided by international law such as the invocation of the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ; petitioning the United Nations Human Rights Council and good offices of the United Nations Secretary General which has played pivotal role in ensuring the peaceful demarcation and delimitation of the boundary between the two countries and other confidence building measures and calls on the United Nations to continue to provide assistance to the affected populations.”