Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua Says Country is 'Duty Bound' to Respect Bakassi Ruling

ABUJA 11 December 2007 Sapa-AFP


Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua Tuesday said his country was duty bound to comply with a ruling of the International Court of Justice
ordering the transfer of the disputed potentially oil-rich Bakassi
peninsula to neighbouring Cameroon.

"Having submitted to the jurisdiction of the ICJ, Nigeria became
duty bound to respect its judgement of 10 October, 2002 which confers the sovereignty of Cameroon over the Bakassi peninsula," Yar'Adua said in a letter to the senate.

The Nigerian senate last month asked Yar'Adua to halt the transfer
of the peninsula to Cameroon until an agreement is ratified by all
Nigerian lawmakers that the territory should be handed over to the
central African country.

The senate alleged that former President Olusegun Obasanjo took a
unilateral decision in ceding the disputed territory following an
agreement reached in New York in June 2006.

"The president should submit the agreement to the National Assembly for scrutiny without further delay to determine whether or not it is in the interest of Nigeria to ratify the agreement", the senate said in a resolution.

Obasanjo has however faulted the senate's claim that the agreement
was not forwarded to parliament for ratification. He made public in the press a copy of the letter informing the senate about the agreement.

The 1,000-square-kilometre (620-square-mile) potentially oil-rich
Bakassi peninsula was officially handed over to Cameroon in August
2006, in compliance with the ICJ ruling and UN-brokered deadline.

Before the handover, Obasanjo and Cameroon President Paul Biya
signed an agreement in New York in the presence of then UN secretary general Kofi Annan on June 12, 2006 to honour the ICJ ruling.

Yaounde took Abuja to the ICJ in The Hague in 1994 and after years
of legal wrangling the court in October 2002 ruled in favour of

Nigeria initially rejected the ICJ ruling, saying that it did not
take into account the interests of Nigerians living in Bakassi.

The United Nations intervened and the two countries set up a
UN-chaired joint commission to resolve the conflict.

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