News / Africa

Cameroon Takes Control of Disputed Bakassi

Workers roof building at the new Bakassi Town, which is being developed to relocate displaced citizens, Cross River State, Bakassi Peninsula, Aug. 2008 file photo.
Workers roof building at the new Bakassi Town, which is being developed to relocate displaced citizens, Cross River State, Bakassi Peninsula, Aug. 2008 file photo.
— Following a half-decade of preparations, Cameroon is assuming full control of the oil-rich peninsula of Bakassi, which has long been at the center of a territorial dispute with neighboring Nigeria. In keeping with a 2002 International Court of Justice ruling that ceded the territory to Yaounde, some 300,000 Nigerians living on the peninsula — approximately 90 percent of its population — must now obtain residence permits and be treated as foreign nationals living in Cameroon if they choose to stay after Wednesday's deadline.
 
Until now, all of the peninsula's inhabitants were given the option to assume Cameroonian citizenship or treated as foreigners should they decide to stay.
 
However, some peninsula residents claim a right to dual citizenship and say they shouldn't be forced to make such a decision.
 
"First of all I am born in Cameroon so I am an indigene of Cameroon," explained 27-year-old Daniel Labawa. "My parents are Nigerian and my mother from Benue State."
 
Although Bakassi has been experiencing changes since the Nigerian military and administration left in 2008, residents such as 36-year-old Nigerian businesswoman Janette Etta says Cameroon has yet to make its presence felt, neglecting even to circulate currency.
 
"We use Nigerian money," she said.
 
George Obi, 18, however, the change is palpable.
 
"Since Cameroon took charge, hospitals have come here," he said. "There were only mud houses here, but now we got a lot of fine houses. I love to be a Cameroonian."
 
"A lot has been done in Bakassi," said William Elangwe Etoe of Cameroon's Ministry of Labor, who works in Bakassi.
 
He said Yaounde has invested substantially in buildings for training centers.
 
"The first thing was to create two centers, one in Akwa and one in Isangele," he said.
 
While Cameroonian officials say they have worked hard to make people who want to live on the peninsula comfortable, some Nigerians still complain of harassment by Cameroonian soldiers, and two months ago a dispute between Nigerian businessmen and Cameroonian tax collectors forced local officials to impose a curfew throughout the region.
 
"We had recalcitrant taxpayers which led to a protest," said Bernard Okalia Bilai, governor of Cameroon's South West Region where Bakassi is located.
 
"Protesters went as far as attacking the mayor who orders the collection of the taxes," he added, explaining that the events led to arrests, and that soldiers were attempting to maintain law and order.
 
But Cameroonian soldiers have clashed with local resistance groups. In 2001, for example, 11 Cameroonian soldiers were declared missing and two dead in what was reported as a pirate attack. A group called the Bakassi Freedom fighters claimed responsibility — vowing that Bakassi will find no peace under Cameroon's rule. The group said it was protesting the 2002 International Court of Justice decision and the United Nations-supervised Green Tree agreement which gave Bakassi to Cameroon.
 
The legacy left by Nigeria in Bakassi is still strong. Nigeria has trained health workers and teachers who remain in the territory.
 
Portions of the area now officially under Cameroon's control are still in need of potable water and electricity.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid