The Neglected People of Bakassi

The Story
Relocated residents of the Bakassi Peninsular, a former territory of Nigeria, have decried their neglect by the Nigerian government.

Is the place not part of Cameroon now?
Yes, it is. But despite the ruling that ceded the territory to Cameroon, some residents expressed their preference for Nigeria. And about two decades after being ceded to Cameroon, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), The Hague, Netherlands, Nigeria is yet to expunge the names of Bakassi villages and electoral wards from its map.

Is that so?
The affected wards in the old Bakassi, which are now in Cameroon, but still exist on Nigeria’s maps and INEC’s Atlas and Directory (illegally) are Abana, Akpa Nkanya, Akwa, Ambai Eba, Amoto, Archibong Town, Antai Ema, Efut Iwang, Ekpot Abia and Odiong. The Cross River State government had enacted a law to create three Ikang wards of Bakassi, through Law Number 7, 2007 of Cross River State to cover the relocated residents of the former Bakassi, but INEC didn’t recognize the new wards.

Why?
INEC’s position was based on a Supreme Court judgment, which set aside Law Number 7 of the state, rendering it null and void. Ironically, when contacted on the issue, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said that by virtue of the 1999 constitution (as amended), INEC does not create wards, and noted that the authority to create wards has been vested in states’ independent electoral commissions.

With lingering issues like their disenfranchisement, absence of law protecting their lost villages and wards, the inability of the international community to keep to the June 12, 2006, Green Tree Agreement (GTA), and the loss of their means of livelihood and total neglect by Nigeria, the people of Bakassi are now rallying for a referendum to address their concerns.

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