By Eval Asikong
Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade has described the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula by the Federal Government to the Republic of Cameroon as the most unconstitutional and most ungodly act in recent times.
Ayade, who expressed this when he received the Chief of Naval Staff, Real Admiral Ibok Ette Ibas, on a courtesy visit to Government House, Calabar, recalled that “…we have a very big challenge. The ceding of Bakassi was the most unconstitutional and most ungodly act. Given the way and manner it was done the state is still hurt.”
Describing it as a social injustice “that has left us with a scar”, he said “the people of Bakassi are living with an emotional and psychological scar as a result of the loss of their ancestral home. The ceding was done without a plebiscite, without a referendum which the people feel was a moral injustice. It has created security tension, it has also created a crisis situation which rests on your shoulders to ensure that you put them under control in keeping with the presidential mandate of sanitizing the waterways. “I urge you to explore possible social and military actions that need to be taken in order to restore peace in the Akpabuyo, Bakassi and Odukpani axis of the maritime domain.”
On the issue of the disputed 76 oil wells that were transferred to Akwa Ibom State, Governor Ayade said “…it is very sad news to report to you that the principle of the doctrine of changing circumstance which is a maritime principle in delineation of maritime boundary was grossly abused in the way and manner that the boundary between Cross River, Cameroun and Akwa Ibom was done. It was done in such a way that the maritime boundary is on a moving structure which is on top of water. Within the International Maritime Law, it is totally unacceptable.
He added that “given the way and manner that the map is constructed, it puts us as a landlocked state. Unfortunately, in jurisprudence, there is no way you can claim that the state is landlocked when the inhabitants can go from Creek Town in Odukpani in their boat and end up in the high sea, where the oil activities within the wells that have been excluded from the state have accumulated impact by oil migration to these areas affecting the aquaculture, farming life of our people. Therefore, within the bounds of morality and law, it is totally inexcusable to establish that Cross River State is landlocked and not a littoral state.”
Querying the decision further, he said: “How can it (Cross River) not be a littoral state if I could sit in the office of the Governor and I can see a large waterfront in front of me? Given the nexus of connectivity between my personal residence and the high sea, it is grave injustice, it is such abuse of law, it is such abuse of logic and I believe in the words of Oputa JSC, who said the Supreme Court is final not because they are infalliable but they are infalliable because they are final.” He said it would not be out of place should the Supreme Court reverse itself on the matter.
Earlier, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette Ibas, said he was on inspection of units and departments under his command following directives from President Muhammedu Buhari that maritime security and sanity be returned within the eastern waterways of the country, explaining that the presence of a new naval ship, NNS Centenary in Calabar and another in Port Harcourt were to take on that responsibility.
Ibas disclosed that Calabar is the second largest host of the navy after Lagos, noting that it has adequate infrastructure and personnel to deliver on the President’s mandate.
The Naval Chief said the Cross River State Government has always supported the Navy since its inception, disclosing that they intend to commission a five-star naval hospital in Calabar, revive the 10-year- old Nigerian Youth Soccer Academy with the cooperation of the state as well as settle a dispute over the ownership of a guest house.
The governor had earlier in the day played host to the Brigade Commander, 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Sanni Mohammed and the State Commandant, Nigerian Security Civil Defence Corps, Clement Adesuyi Dayo, where he restated the need to reinforce security in the state following the influx of miscreants from other states as their activities within the Odukpani, Akpabuyo, Bakassi have negative impact on the peaceful nature of the state.
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