Why Obasanjo Handed Bakassi Over To Cameroon — Adoke

Mohammed Adoke
Mohammed Adoke

The main reason ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo handed over oil-rich Bakassi Peninsular to Cameroun has emerged.

Bakassi peninsular, a 1,600-kilometre land boundary between Nigeria, near the city of Calabar in Cross River State, and the Rio del Ray estuary in Cameroon was ceded by British to Germany through the Anglo-German agreement of 1913 and Germany ceded it to France and then France ceded same to it (Cameroon).

Following the legal battle between Nigeria and Cameroon, International Court of Justice at Hague ruled on October 10, 2002 that Bakassi belonged to Cameroon, and in 2008, Obasanjo officially ceded Bakassi to Cameroon by signing the Green Tree Agreement produced by the commission despite massive protests by Nigerians.

The former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, said there was nothing Obasanjo and his government could have done to stop the action, which had already received the blessing of the United Nations under the leadership of Kofi Annan.

Adoke in his new book- Burden of Service: Reminisces of Nigeria’s Former Attorney General, pointed out that it was already too late in 2007 for the Nigerian government to reverse the October 10, 2002 ruling of the International Court of Justice, which had given Bakassi Peninsular to Cameroon.

He also advanced reasons he opposed the duo of the then Governor Lyel Imoke of Cross River State and Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, who tried desperately to get the then President Goodluck Jonathan to get agreement reviewed.

According to him, the belated attempt by the Nigerian Senate in 2007 to impugn the Greentree Agreement, six months after Obasanjo had left office was an exercise in futility, which he knew would not reverse the crucial decision of the ICJ and for which he was labeled a saboteur.

The former minister said in the book due for launch on Monday that since Obasanjo had already signed an agreement with Paul Biya of Cameroon with Kofi Annan as the mediator, there was nothing the country could have done again to stop the implementation of the pact.

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Adoke said: “In 2012, with less than six months remaining to approach the ICJ for a possible review of the judgment, there was increased campaign for it. In September 2012, while the “Take Back Baakassi” campaign was raging, President Jonathan led the Nigerian delegation, of which I was a member, to the 67th United Nations General Assembly.

“The clamour to rescind the agreement waxed stronger, unabated. In fact, it was reaching a crescendo. Senator Lyel Imoke, then Governor of Cross River State and Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, then Senate Leader, also from Cross River State, approached me with a request to appeal the ICJ judgment.

“I informed them that Article 60 of the ICJ Statute foreclosed any appeal. But application for a review of the judgment was possible under Article 61 where new facts have emerged that were not available at the time the case came before the ICJ.

“The materials they were presenting as new facts were already available and canvassed by the Nigerian legal team before the ICJ. It would, therefore, amount to a worthless exercise to reopen the matter which would only constitute an embarrassment to Nigeria.

“The President had already given an irrevocable assurance to the UN Secretary-General that we were not going back on the issue of Bakassi. I informed them that as a member of the UN, Nigeria was bound by Article 103 of the UN Charter to respect the judgment of the ICJ, which is an organ of the UN.

“I was later to discover a hidden political agenda to the clamour when I received a letter from some groups reiterating the possibility of applying for a review. All that was needed, they claimed, was for the federal government to pay them $17 million to conduct a research to unearth new and fresh facts that would form the basis of evidence to be presented for a review. It dawned on me at that point that the agitation was nothing but a grand scheme to make money!” Adoke said.

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“When people talk about the ICJ judgment, not many talk about the enormous gains Nigeria derived from it. For instance, Nigerian gained a lot of landmass particularly on the northern boundary with Cameroon. This is in addition to the fact that a good number of oil wells ended up in the Nigerian territory.

“I was able to curtail the activities of civil servants who did not want the assignment to come to an end as it would dry up the financial benefit they drew from the estacode payments,” the former justice minister stated.

(The Vanguard)