Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has received a commendation from the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) over the way he handled the recent conflict in the Bakassi Peninsula, which affected Nigerian fishermen.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the special representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and Head of UNOWAS, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, gave the assessment while speaking in New York.
focusonabuja.info learnt however that Chambas is not happy that the crisis led to the killing of 97 Nigerians resident in the area. The Nigerians, mostly fishermen, were reportedly killed by Cameroonian Gendarmes over failure to pay a N100,000 boat levy.
The report quoted Chambas as saying: “But let me commend the initiative of the acting president of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who has already directed that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) should find out what numbers have come across the border to Nigeria.
“He also asked the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) at the Cross River level to look into what numbers are being displaced from Nigeria as a result of this.
“Do they need help? If they do, that authority should also ascertain the numbers involved and provide the necessary support these newly displaced persons may need.
“So I think adequate response has been undertaken by the Nigerian side to cater for any Nigerians who might have come back into the country from Bakassi.
“We commend that effort on the part of the Nigerian authorities.”
Chambas, who noted that the conflict is of extreme interest to UNOWAS, especially with its involvement of the Joint Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC), added: “As I speak to you now, a team from my office has left Abuja where they have been consulting with officials particularly, the ministry of justice, Attorney-General’s office.
“They have continued to Cameroon, they were in Yaoundé last week, so we would look into this and other concerns.
“For now, the information we have is that the issue had to do with an imposition of a new fishing tax in communities. “And this may have generated some friction between the different fishermen, including Nigerian fishermen and tax officials.
“So just to say that this really was not related directly to the border demarcation issues but have more to do with a new tax that has been imposed by the Cameroonian authority.”
Concerning the relationship between Nigeria and Cameroon, Chambas said: “The relations between the two countries remain very good and we commend that and also we encourage their continuing collaboration on a bigger-ticket item – the fighting Boko Haram.
“We urge them to maintain this solidarity that they have with each other and to scale up the fight against Boko Haram, which is wounded but not dead yet,” he said.
It was learnt that reports on the recent conflict stated that the attackers sacked mainly Nigerians from Akwa Ibom and Cross River and Ondo states, and that this is believed to be a violation of the 2005 Green Tree Agreement (GTA) by CNMC.
NAIJ.com recently quoted Acting President Yemi Osinbajo as saying recently that ceding Bakassi to Cameroon is a big loss for Nigeria but that President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to helping Nigerians in the place.
Osinbajo said the federal government would do more for the people of Bakassi and will not leave them to suffer.