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Nigeria Hands Over Disputed Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon

Nigeria has officially handed over sovereignty of the disputed and oil-rich Baskassi peninsula to Cameroon.

Officials from the two countries conducted a handover ceremony Monday, in the Bakassi town of Archibong.

Under a United Nations-brokered agreement, Cameroon takes immediate control of northern Bakassi, while Nigeria will administer the southern portion for the next two years.

Residents have that time to decide whether they want to return to Nigeria, take Cameroonian citizenship or remain Nigerian citizens living in Cameroon.

Many of the peninsula's residents have expressed unhappiness at the agreement, with some vowing to resist Cameroonian control.

Nigeria and Cameroon reached the agreement in June after decades of bitter dispute over who owns the Gulf of Guinea peninsula. The dispute nearly sparked a war in 1981.

Four years ago, a U.N. ruling awarded the peninsula to Cameroon.

Nigeria began to withdraw troops from Bakassi on August first, and sped up the pullout in the past few days to meet a Monday deadline.

The 1,000-kilometer patch of Atlantic coastal swampland provides access to coveted fishing grounds and offshore oil deposits.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP .