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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid