Bakassi: Senate, Jonathan On Collision Course

Bakassi: Senate, Jonathan On Collision Course

Some senators on Friday spurned President Goodluck Jonathan’s position on the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, insisting that he must take advantage of the provisions of Article 61 of the International Court of Justice statute of 1946 and appeal the October 10, 2002 judgment on the case.  

The lawmakers insisted that the appeal of the ICJ judgment would not violate the Green Tree Agreement.

The senators spoke against the background of the President’s pledge at the United Nations to abide by the ICJ ruling.

The Senate had on Wednesday passed a resolution urging an immediate appeal against the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon. The senators overwhelmingly rejected the ICJ ruling and criticised Jonathan’s commitment to the issue.

Senate’s spokesman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, on Friday told SUNDAY PUNCH that instead of a violation, an appeal of the judgment was actually in line with the provisions of the judgment.

He said, “The President’s statement on Bakassi before the United Nations General Assembly, we understand, is a pledge to abide by the provisions of the ICJ judgment.

“Nigerians are saying that a provision of that judgment gives an opportunity for an appeal within a specific period of time.

“So the President must listen to the people and appeal. It is still in keeping with the judgment, provided we can provide the court with fresh evidence of our ownership of the place.”

According to Abaribe, Nigeria has nothing to lose in appealing the judgment since it provides another opportunity to put the facts right.

Senator Bassey Otu, who has the Bakassi area as part of his senatorial district, said the President must now listen to the people and appeal the judgment before the date of expiration.

Otu said his understanding of the President speech on Bakassi is to respect the ICJ judgment to the extent of its being implementable.

He said, “The Green Tree Agreement or any other document has not been ratified by the National Assembly. It is still an illegal document.

“Nigeria has obeyed that judgment so far. Now Nigerians are saying to the President go back and revisit the judgment, and that is what the President should do.

“The President has to do what the people say. He was elected to do just that. We have nothing to lose in reopening that case.”

Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati in a statement quoted Jonathan as saying “Nigeria recognises the important role of the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals in the peaceful resolution of international disputes.”

However, the Senate has insisted that Jonathan had the obligation to listen to the voice of the people who elected him into office and revisit the ICJ judgment on Bakassi.


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