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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid