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UN-sponsored panel to draft new plan for Nigeria’s withdrawal from peninsula

UN-sponsored panel to draft new plan for Nigeria’s withdrawal from peninsula

The United Nations-sponsored Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission will establish a working group to draft a new programme for Nigeria’s withdrawal from the Bakassi Peninsula, which the World Court awarded to Cameroon in October 2002, and submit the plan to the heads of the two countries and the UN Secretary-General.

Wrapping up its 13th session on Friday, the Commission said in a communiqué that each side would nominate four members and the working group would report back to the Commission before the 14th session scheduled to be held in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, in mid-October.

The 1,600-kilometre land boundary extends from the Lake Chad to the Bakassi peninsula, and the maritime boundary into the Gulf of Guinea. Among the issues involved are rights over the oil-rich land and sea reserves and the fate of local populations, the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), which acts as the Commission’s secretariat, said.

The Commission had said in a communiqué after its October 2004 meeting that the withdrawal and transfer of authority from Nigeria to Cameroon on the Bakassi Peninsula, scheduled to have taken place between 15 June and 15 September last year, had been “blocked so far.”

On other areas affected by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, the Commission noted on Friday “the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the Lake Chad and Land Boundary areas one year after the withdrawals and transfers of authority that occurred there, as well as the good relations existing between the populations and the new authorities.”

Mixed Commission Chairman Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told the two sides that he had examined their proposals for implementing the ICJ judgement with regard to the maritime boundary and had directed a UN expert to propose a map.

“The Mixed Commission noted that progress had been made in implementing confidence-building measures and that both countries had participated in meetings on the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Abakaliki-Mamfe-Mutengene road and the Lake Chad Basin Commission,” the latest communiqué said.