The Bakassi natives have demanded the immediate return of the 76 oil wells ceded to Akwa Ibom State.
The oil wells were ceded to their neighbouring state on November 22, 2007, following what they described as a political solution to the lingering tussles between the two states.
This led to Cross River losing hundreds of millions of naira that normally accrue to them from the federation account based on the 76 oil wells.
The lost again has created a no-love-lost relationship between the two brotherly states just as Cross River government has accused Federal government of meting out injustice to the people of Bakassi.
However, barely 12 years after the ceding, the Bakassi natives have staged a protest at the state House of Assembly Complex, Calabar, demanding the return of the 76 oil wells, saying that Nigeria would never know peace until justice is done to Bakassi natives.
Speaking on why they need it now, the leader of the Bakassi youths, Mr. Kingsley Asuquo, said they have been suffering following the ceding of the oil wells and have been rendered homeless in the country.
Asuquo, from Akpankaya ward said: “We are protesting because we Bakassi the people have been neglected over the years. What belongs to us has been taken away from us, talking about the 76 oil wells.
“We have been rendered refugees in our country and the economic benefits of the youths have not been given to us and our rights. So we want the government to revisit the 76 oil wells and the marine boundary of Cross River state and Akwa Ibom.”
Explaining that since the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon and the loss of 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom, he said nothing has been done to the people of Bakassi, particularly the youths and the women.
Asuquo added that the people have been moved from Abana where the headquarters of Bakassi and to Akpabuyo and now to Ikang.
“They moved us to Ikang South which they now call Bakassi and whenever it is election time, that is when we know that we don’t belong to this place; we don’t just understand; they will move us to where they call Day Spring and vote and they now say the votes in Ikang is for Akpabuyo,” he lamented.
He decried the building of the resettlement camp and housing units for the people without economic benefits.
Addressing the natives at Assembly complex, the Speaker, Hon William Eteng, represented by Hon. Peter Odey, said the ceding of the oil wells remains a mystery to the people of the state just as the loss of the wells did not just affect the people of Bakassi alone but all local government areas of the state.
On the issue of proper delineation of the Bakassi state constituency, Odey advised the youths to do a memo to INEC because they have the power of delineation of constituencies and it is beyond the power of the Cross River State House of Assembly.
“So the youths should, in a peaceful manner like they have come here today, they should use that peaceful manner to appeal to INEC and if possible take legal action against INEC,” he said.