From: JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
Chairman of Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council, HRM Etinyin Etim Okon Edet has, again, raised the alarm over the plight of Bakassi people, calling on the Federal Government to finally resettle the returnees.
Edet, who doubles as the Paramount Ruler of Bakassi Local Government Area, said in spite of series of dialogues, discussions and meetings over the fate of humans displaced following the ceding of Bakassi in October 10, 2002, the Federal Government was yet to properly resettle the natives.
He disclosed that even as resettlement committees have been set up by successive administrations from Donald Duke to Liyel Imoke and the Presidential Committee constituted by former President Goodluck Jonathan, nothing positive has come out from the reports.
According to him, “it is disheartening that after 15 years of ceding Bakassi and four years after the Presidential Committee submitted their report, the same government has again thrown the reports into the trash can of history and refused to implement it.”
The Paramount Ruler said the people that sacrificed their ancestral homes and lost their means of livelihood for peace to reign in the area, have been treated as outcasts and made to suffer all kinds of human indignities as well as deprivations.
“Our present situation as a people is highly pathetic and worrisome as it is very painful for one to forgo his or her ancestral home and in such a circumstances as we have found ourselves.
“We were hopeful, that federal government would implement the recommendations of the Committee and end the matter in our collective interest. The October 10, 2002 ICJ judgment affected the Maritime Boundary of Bakassi and the land boundary of the Lake Chad region of Adamawa, Borno and Taraba. In the land area, the federal government had resettled the people. Why then is Bakassi resettlement dragging?” he queried.
Investigations by DAILY SUN revealed that the report of the Presidential Committee on the Plight of the Displaced Bakassi People submitted May 23, 2013 among others recommended the establishment of a N100b Special Fund for Bakassi development and the a lump sum of N250, 000 as a direct payment to established beneficiaries based on estimated 2013 population of 38, 907.
The committee on page 6 of the report further recommended that “the present headquarters should remain Ikang because of centrality” just as “additional state constituency should be created so that the settlers and indigenes have a state each to serve their interest.”
The committee’s recommendation of Ikang being retained as local government headquarters have ended the in-fighting among various groups over whether the natives will relocate to Day spring Island I and II or remain at Ikang.