By Jude Okwe.THIS DAY.03,JAN 2013
The displaced people of the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula are planning to sponsor a motion at the House of Representatives on the need for a referendum in the territory to guide them on their bid for self-determination.
A member of the House, representing Bakassi/Akpabuyo/Calabar South Federal Constituency, Hon. Essien Ayi, said Wednesday in Calabar that the motion would be presented once the National Assembly reconvenes after the yuletide break.
Ayi, who spoke with reporters after visiting orphanages and homes for the aged to felicitate with them during the yuletide season, added that the motion would be a prelude to the sponsorship of a bill on the matter.
According to him, the motion, among other things, will be seeking the conduct of a referendum to enable the people to decide whether they want to belong to the Republic of Cameroun, Nigeria or become an independent state in line with the United Nations charter on self-determination.
It will also compel the Federal Government and the UN to provide for the resettlement of the displaced people at a location that is acceptable and convenient to them as provided under the Green Tree Agreement (GTA) which Nigeria, Cameroun and the UN signed in June 2008 following the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment that ceded Bakassi to Cameroun.
Another key provision of the motion, according to Ayi, is compensation for Cross River State in perpetuity for the loss of Bakassi Peninsula since the contention for the oil-rich island was a national issue but its loss devastating to the state and its economy.
He said once the motion is adopted, it would be up to the people of Bakassi and the Federal Government to implement it as he is only doing their bidding as their representative.
He explained that the call for a referendum in the motion was essential because no referendum was conducted for the people to decide where to belong before the final handover of August 14, 2008, nor did the National Assembly ratify the decision to cede a part of Nigeria to another country.
Ayi lampooned the Federal Government for dropping its plan to seek a review of the ICJ judgment, saying it was wrong for President Goodluck Jonathan to have heeded the advice of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, not to review the verdict when there were overwhelming fresh facts that would have favoured the review.
Reacting to claims that the Federal Government will this year compensate Cross River for the loss of Bakassi, he said there was no provision in the 2013 budget for the resettlement of Bakassi people let alone monetary compensation for the loss of Bakassi.
He expressed surprise at such speculations when government has deliberately refused to consider the plight of the displaced people.
On insecurity and terrorism in the country, Ayi canvassed for death sentences for those who bomb worshippers in churches and their sponsors to serve as a deterrent to others.
Ayi, who is the House Committee Chairman on Labour, accused multi-national corporations operating in the country of abusing the expatriate quota as they have been working contrary to the labour law, which provides that an expatriate should be understudied by Nigerians assigned to work with him for at least two years