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Bakassi is a peninsula on the Gulf of Guinea. It lies between the Cross River estuary, near the city of Calabar in the west of the Bight of Biafra, and the Rio del Ray estuary on the east. It is governed by Cameroon , following the transfer of sovereignty from neighbouring Nigeria as a result of a judgment by the International Court of Justice. The population of Bakassi is the subject of some dispute, but is generally put at between , and , people.
These two ocean currents interact, creating huge foamy breakers which constantly advance towards the shore, and building submarine shoals rich in fish, shrimps, and a wide variety of other marine life forms. This makes the Bakassi area a very fertile fishing ground, comparable only to Newfoundland in North America and Scandinavia in Western Europe. Most of the population make their living through fishing.
The peninsula is commonly described as "oil-rich", though in fact no commercially viable deposits of oil have been discovered. However, the area has aroused considerable interest from oil companies in the light of the discovery of rich reserves of high grade crude oil in Nigeria.
At least eight multinational oil companies have participated in the exploration of the peninsula and its offshore waters. This enabled the British Empire to exercise control over the entire territory around Calabar, including Bakassi.
The territory subsequently became de facto part of Nigeria , although the border was never permanently delineated. However, documents released by the Cameroonians, in parity with that of the British and Germans, clearly places Bakassi under Cameroonian Territory as a consequence of colonial era Anglo-German agreements.
Nigeria and Cameroon have disputed the possession of Bakassi for some years, leading to considerable tension between the two countries. In the two countries went to the brink of war over Bakassi and another area around Lake Chad , at the other end of the two countries' common border. More armed clashes broke out in the early s. The case was extremely complex, requiring the court to review diplomatic exchanges dating back over years.
Nigeria relied largely on Anglo-German correspondence dating from as well as treaties between the colonial powers and the indigenous rulers in the area, particularly the Treaty of Protection. Cameroon pointed to the Anglo-German treaty of , which defined sphere of control in the region, as well as two agreements signed in the s between Cameroon and Nigeria.
The line was drawn through the Cross River estuary to the west of the peninsula, thereby implying Cameroonian ownership over Bakassi. However, Nigeria never ratified the agreement, while Cameroon regarded it as being in force. The ICJ delivered its judgment on 10 October , finding based principally on the Anglo-German agreements that sovereignty over Bakassi did indeed rest with Cameroon.
It instructed Nigeria to transfer possession of the peninsula, but did not require the inhabitants to move or to change their nationality. Cameroon was thus given a substantial Nigerian population and was required to protect their rights, infrastructure and welfare.
The verdict caused consternation in Nigeria. It aroused vitriolic comments from Nigerian officials and the Nigerian media alike. The Nigerian newspaper The Guardian went further, declaring that the judgment was "a rape and unforeseen potential international conspiracy against Nigerian territorial integrity and sovereignty" and "part of a Western ploy to foment and perpetuate trouble in Africa". The outcome of the controversy was a de facto Nigerian refusal to withdraw its troops from Bakassi and transfer sovereignty.
The Nigerian government did not, however, openly reject the judgment but instead called for an agreement that would provide "peace with honour, with the interest and welfare of our people.
The ICJ judgement was backed up by the United Nations , whose charter potentially allowed sanctions or even the use of force to enforce the court's ruling. Secretary-General Kofi Annan stepped in as a mediator and chaired a tripartite summit with the two countries' presidents on 15 November , which established a commission to facilitate the peaceful implementation of the ICJ's judgement.
A further summit was held on 31 January This has made significant progress, but the process has been complicated by the opposition of Bakassi's inhabitants to being transferred to Cameroon. Bakassian leaders threatened to seek independence if Nigeria renounced sovereignty.
This secession was announced on 9 July , as the "Democratic Republic of Bakassi". The decision was reportedly made at a meeting on 2 July and The Vanguard newspaper of Nigeria reported the decision to secede. Prince Obuka and Ebuta Ogar Takon moved their National Presence to the region after series of warning to Nigeria Government over the plight of the internally displaced natives and the reported killing of remnants in the Peninsula by Cameroon Soldiers, this came amid clashes between Nigeria Troops and Bakassi Strike Force, a Militant Group that rose against the plight of the displaced people, BNYL Leaders were later apprehended in the Ikang-Cameroon Border Area on 9 November by Nigerian troops according to the Nigeria Nation Newspaper, reports linked the Biafra group to the Militant clashes, but that did not deter the group activities in Bakassi.
Obasanjo agreed to withdraw Nigerian troops within 60 days and to leave the territory completely in Cameroonian control within the next two years. Annan said, "With today's agreement on the Bakassi peninsula, a comprehensive resolution of the dispute is within our grasp. The momentum achieved must be sustained. Nigeria began to withdraw its forces, comprising some 3, troops, beginning 1 August , and a ceremony on 14 August marked the formal handover of the northern part of the peninsula.
The remainder stayed under Nigerian civil authority for two more years. On 22 November , the Nigerian Senate passed a resolution declaring that the withdrawal from the Bakassi Peninsula was illegal.
The government took no action, and handed the final parts of Bakassi over to Cameroon on 14 August as planned, but a Federal High Court had stated this should be delayed until all accommodations for resettled Bakassians had been settled; the government did not seem to plan to heed this court order,  and set the necessary mechanisms into motion to override it. Fishermen displaced from Bakassi were first settled in a landlocked area called New Bakassi, which they claimed was already inhabited and not suitable for fishermen like them but only for farmers.
Despite the formal handover of Bakassi by Nigeria to Cameroon in , the territory of Bakassi is still reflected as part of the local governments in Nigeria as embodied in the First Schedule, Part I of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Oude Elferink Rosenne's the World Court: What it is and how it Works. United Nations Publications. BBC News. Retrieved 5 November Archived from the original on 13 August Retrieved 18 January Retrieved 26 April Retrieved 31 March Nigerian Eye.
Archived from the original on 3 September Cross River State. Hidden categories: Webarchive template archiveis links Webarchive template wayback links Pages with citations lacking titles Pages with citations having bare URLs Use dmy dates from May Coordinates on Wikidata.
Settling border conflicts in Africa peacefully:
Quand une péninsule pétrolière change de mains