Farming Becoming Money Earner For Bakassi IDPs

farming-nigeria-bakassi-idpsThe Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bakassi, who had lived their lives as fishermen, are embracing farming, as a new occupation.

They say it is helping them pick up the pieces of their lives after they were displaced from their ancestral home to Cameroon.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Imani Odey, visited a farm at Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem, in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State and reports that, the IDPs are fully into farming of Watermelon, Garden Egg, Vegetables, Pineapple, Plantain as well as Piggery.

Their major challenge, however, is how they will control weed and pests affecting the production rate of the produce and they are calling for assistance from governments at all levels.

A 30-hectare land donated freely by their host community is presently used for farming. The community has asked them to develop the land and turn it to a new home for them.

The history of the displaced Bakassi People can be likened to one referred to as, refugees in their own father’s land.

As a people abandoned and neglected by circumstances beyond their control, they have lived in inhumane conditions at Saint Mark’s Nursery and Primary School Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem, Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State since 2013 and are awaiting the full implementation of the Green Tree Agreement which is yet to be fulfilled.

A leader of one of the camps where the IDPs see as their homes took Channels Television around their farms.

bakassi-idps-farming-water-melon
Imani Odey relish watermelon with some of the IDPs

First of the farms visited was a land acquired beside the camp where the elderly ones in their midst farm.

Then the journey of over one hour on bike begins to the 30 hectares volunteered by their host community to them free of charge for developing and then settlement.

“We donated 30 hectares of land to the IDPs in our land because of what happened to them. It is for free. They are not to pay. This land remains for the IDPs to build houses, hospitals and whatsoever they want and the governor says he will do it for them.

“The community doesn’t want anything in return because we gave them for free and all the community joined hands to give them,” a leader of the community said.

Garden of Eden

The road network to the farm from the camp, however, is a challenge facing them which they want the government to help them address even though the community have tried to open a temporary bush track.

While they await government’s input, each IDPs household made monetary contribution and hired a tractor to clear portions of the area which will form part of the farmland pending when the State government sets in to develop the land for them, as promised by Governor Ben Ayade during one of his trips to the camp to have a feel of what they have been passing through.

Few kilometers from the farmland was another farmland for the Bakassi IDPs where pineapple, Watermelon, Garden Eggs and other crops are planted.

One of the farmers said: ”We call this, the Garden of Eden. So, now the particular area is Garden of Eden where it is the beginning of Bakassi farming. Formally, we enjoy our seafood – fish, periwinkle, crayfish, but one reason or the other made us to change our occupation. It is a painful situation when we recall our ancestral home because we are blessed with mineral resources, crude oil, fish and all”.

The farming business, the camp leader added, was at the moment not profitable, as buyers come directly to the farm to purchase the crops at a giveaway rate of 200 Naira for one watermelon following the bad nature of the road.

“The challenge that we are facing here is that we don’t know how to weed and remove these grasses because when the UN taught us how to farm, they used sprayer to show us how to kill some grasses but we don’t have money even to eat. It is difficult for us to eat and to get chemicals and control weed in the ground that is why you’re seeing that (weed).

“Our garden eggs and watermelon are suppose to be doing very well, but we don’t know how to control weed. It is a first experience in our lives, since we discover all these minor challenges,” he said.

Another Bakassi Returnee, Essien Okon, however pointed out that as much as he liked farming, fishing was something he loved to do.

“Since we don’t have boats and other things that we can use for fishing, we prefer farming because now in Nigeria we don’t have food so we have to go into farming so that, we can have something to eat,” he told Imani.

Following this venture by the people of the Displaced Bakassi Peninsular, it behooves on the government to encourage these ones with the necessary farming tools in-order to serve as an encouragement to them.

They are however thankful to the UNHCR for their assistance so far.

Buhari Makes Statement On Bakasi Peninsula

Muhammadu Buhari on Bakasi Peninsula President Muhammadu Buhari, says Nigeria will obey the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the Bakassi peninsula.

The Nigerian leader made the statement on Wednesday in Cameroon while in an interactive session with Nigerians living in the nation.

“Since Nigeria allowed the case to go to court (ICJ), and we lost, we have to abide by it,” the President said in response to a question from a Nigerian on the issue.

He told them that his administration would implement the Green Tree Agreement, which regulates the ceding of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon.

President Buhari also vowed to expedite the safe return and rehabilitation of over 40,000 Nigerians in Cameroon, who fled their homes as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency in the oil-rich nation’s north-east.

In a statement released by a spokesman for the President, Femi Adesina, President Buhari stated that his administration would soon produce a more articulated foreign policy that would further strengthen Nigeria’s relations with other countries.

Patience And Vigilance

On the issue of security, the President said: “The defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria and protection of lives and properties of Nigerians and all those who live in the country are top priorities”.

President Buhari assured Nigerians that the current security challenges were not insurmountable.

He said Nigeria was working with all neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, to fight and stand firm against all forms of terror and
trans-border crimes.

He appealed for patience and vigilance from Nigerians to ensure that youths were not lured into joining “misguided groups”.

“We are determined to end this callousness against our innocent citizens. We shall explore all reasonable options to enable us to bring this rebellion to an end,” he vowed.

‘The Future Is Bright’

Responding to a question on the voting rights for Nigerians in the Diaspora, the President promised that his administration would revisit the issue, which would require legislation from the National Assembly.

The President further pledged to do everything possible toward bringing positive change to Nigeria.

“Despite the numerous challenges confronting us, the future of our country is bright.

“You all know very well that your fellow Nigerians are resilient, hardworking and patriotic.

“These qualities have always seen us through our most difficult national challenges and they will do so now,” President Buhari stated.

The President is expected to return to Nigeria tomorrow, after addressing a joint press conference with his counterpart, President Paul Biya in Yaounde.

He is in Cameroon for a two-day official visit aimed at strengthening collaboration between both nations in counter-terrorism operation and border patrol.

Read full press statement below.

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE NIGERIA WILL ABIDE BY ICJ RULING ON BAKASSI – PRESIDENT BUHARI
Nigeria will abide by the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Bakassi Peninsula, President Muhammadu Buhari said on
Wednesday in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.

Speaking at an interactive session with Nigerians living in Cameroon during his two-day working and friendly visit to the country,
President Buhari said his administration would ensure the faithful implementation of the Green Tree Agreement, which regulates the ceding
of Bakassi to Cameroon.

“Since Nigeria allowed the case to go to court (ICJ), and we lost, we have to abide by it,” the President said in response to a question
from a Nigerian on the issue.

President Buhari, who is on his maiden visit to the country after his inauguration on May 29, said his administration had yet to articulate
a foreign policy for Nigeria beyond what was captured in the All Progressives Congress (APC) party’s manifesto.

“However we will make our embassies more efficient and improve our relations with other countries,’’ he said.

The President urged Nigerians in Diaspora to be law abiding in their host countries and told representatives of the over 4 million
Nigerians living in Cameroon to continue to live in peace and harmony with Cameroonians.

On the plight of some 40,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, who were forced to flee their homes because of Boko Haram terrorists, the
President said the Federal government would ensure their safe return and rehabilitation in the shortest possible time.

“We also have about 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria and we have a programme of rehabilitation and reintegration
into the society for them, which involves providing shelter and schools to the displaced persons.’’

Responding to a question on the voting rights for Nigerians in Diaspora, the President promised that his administration would revisit the issue, which would require legislation from the National Assembly.

Later in a prepared text read to the Nigerian community, the President pledged to do everything possible toward bringing positive change to
Nigeria.

“Despite the numerous challenges confronting us, the future of our country is bright.

“You all know very well that your fellow Nigerians are resilient, hardworking and patriotic.

“These qualities have always seen us through our most difficult national challenges and they will do so now.’’

On the fight against Boko Haram, the President assured Nigerians that the current security challenges are not insurmountable.
He said Nigeria was working with all her neighbours, including Cameroon, to fight and stand firmly against all forms of terror and
trans-border crimes.

He appealed for patience and vigilance from Nigerians to ensure that youths are not lured into joining “misguided groups.’’

“We are determined to end this callousness against our innocent citizens.

“The defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria and the protection of lives and properties of Nigerians and all those who live
in the country are out top priorities.

“We shall explore all reasonable options to enable us to bring this rebellion to an end,” he vowed.

President Buhari will depart Cameroon for Abuja on Thursday after addressing a joint press conference in Yaounde with his host,
President Paul Biya.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
July 29, 2015

More protest in Calabar over loss of Bakassi

The Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, has stated that all hope is not lost in the fight for reclaiming the Bakassi Peninsular, saying that the state government will explore other means of addressing the injustice done to the returnees.

The governor was speaking when some aggrieved indigenes of Bakassi Local Government Area marched on a peaceful protest to his office, carrying placards to register their grievances on the failure of the federal governments to appeal the International Court of Justice, ruling which ceded the oil rich peninsular to Cameroun, despite a 10-year grace to appeal the ruling.

Addressing the crowd who earlier gathered at the Millenniums Park in Calabar, the Cross-River state capital, to pray and reflect on the last ten years, the governor however described the development as a right one in the right direction.

He maintained that, dialogue should remain the last resort to addressing this new development, urging the protesters to remain law abiding citizens and have hope in themselves.

Some aggrieved persons who spoke to Channels Television, also expressed some optimism that the international Community will stand by them and fight for their justice.

 

 

Jonathan sets up committee to review judgment on Bakassi Peninuslar

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday set up a committee to review the appealing judgment on Bakassi Peninsular to the neighbouring country Cameroun and how to take care of the people there.

The president’s decision which is coming a few days to the expiration of the appeal period on the case is following a long drawn out meeting, in which the president held with the leadership of the National Assembly over the matter in the presidential villa.

The meeting which lasted for about three and half hours had in attendance the vice president Namadi Sambo, the senate president David Mark, Speaker of the house of representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and other key principal officers of the National Assembly, the Attorney General of the federation, the governors of Cross- River, Akwa Ibom, Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as some select groups from Bakassi state.

Other technocrats like prince Bola Ajibola who spoke to Channels Television after the meeting said that by the meeting the federal government has shown a candid concern for its people in Bakassi .

That according to him is the most important thing now. He commended the move to follow the rule of law, dialogue, and diplomacy in ensuring that the people are not wrongly dealt with.

Mr Ajibola expressed optimism that the committee set up will handle it in a record time.

Also speaking the Cross- River state governor, Liyel Imoke said that the president has shown great leadership quality by convening the meeting and standing firm on some of the decisions taken.

On his part, the senate president David Mark said that the executive and the law makers are on the same frequency on the Bakassi issue and will work in the same direction to achieve results.

Reps demand review of Bakassi judgement

The federal government has been asked to seek a review of the International Court of Justice ruling which ceded Bakassi peninsular to the republic of Cameroun.

The joint committee of the House of Representatives on Foreign affairs, Justice and Special duties brought together experts at an interactive session in a bid to help guide the position to be taken by the lawmakers on the matter.

There has been a growing call for government to revisit the International Court of Justice judgment ceding Bakassi peninsular to Cameroon.

The indigenes of the peninsular who were also at the event, told the forum that they are not impressed with the way government handled the land dispute.

They also gave accounts of their experiences in the hands of Cameroonian security forces.