Nigeria and Cameroon discuss handover of Bakassi Peninsula

30 August 2004

Nigerian and Cameroonian delegates to a United Nations commission have met to discuss the peaceful implementation of a October 2002 World Court ruling ceding the formerly disputed, mineral-rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon by 15 September, the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) said.

Senior Minister Amadou Ali of Cameroon and Prince Bola Ajibola of Nigeria met on Sunday with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative and UNOWA chief Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah to ensure the peaceful handover of the peninsula in accordance with the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) ruling.

Observers from the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission have been monitoring the situation, but "peace and security prevail," and the Nigerian delegate re-affirmed Cameroon's sovereignty over the area, according to UNOWA.

Cross-border projects, confidence-building measures and environmental and economic issues were scheduled to be discussed at a later date, before the deadline.

In November 2002, Mr. Annan set up the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission at the request of the two nations' presidents. Troops were withdrawn and authority was transferred in the Lake Chad area at the northeastern end of the border in December 2003, the first step in the handover.

Historically, Britain handed the peninsula to Germany during the 19th century despite a treaty of protection between Britain and the local rulers.

The ICJ found that Cameroon, a former German colony, held the pre-existing title recognized by international law as a result of a border delimitation described in the Anglo-German Agreement of 11 March 1913. Germany's West African colonies were ruled under British and French mandates after World War I and independent Nigeria earlier recognized Cameroon's sovereignty over Bakassi, it said.

On the other hand, the September 1884 Treaty of Protection between Britain and the Kings and Chiefs of Old Calabar failed to specify "the territory to which the British Crown was to extend 'gracious favour and protection'" and did not indicate "the territories over which each of the Kings and Chiefs signatory to the Treaty exercised his powers."


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