September 26, 2012 / 7:11 PM / 5 years ago

Nigeria Senate urges appeal of Cameroon Bakassi award

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to appeal an international ruling which handed the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to its neighbour Cameroon a decade ago.

Nigeria relinquished control of Bakassi in 2008, six years after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled it belonged to Cameroon. The ruling followed years of political disputes, legal skirmishes and violence that killed dozens of people.

The senators argued that the judgement was “erroneously based on agreement between the British and Calabar Chiefs in 1884” and that “there has never been a precedent in history where any case of this nature was executed without a referendum as enshrined by the United Nations,” the resolution said.

They also said that an agreement between the neighbours that Nigerian nationals have their rights protected was not being respected by Cameroon, but gave no further details.

The ICJ gave Bakassi to Cameroon in 2002, based on a 1913 treaty between former colonial powers Britain and Germany.

The two African countries, which nearly went to war over Bakassi on several occasions, had agreed to work together to explore for oil in the region, which could help boost Cameroon’s declining production of around 90,000 barrels per day.

Around 90 percent of the population of the Bakassi peninsula, estimated at 200,000 to 300,000, are Nigerian fishermen and their families who do not want to be Cameroonians.

A movement called the Bakassi Self-Determination Front last month declared independence from Nigeria or Cameroon, hoisting a flag and setting up an FM radio station. It is not clear how big the movement is or whether it poses a security threat.

“It is the wish of this Senate that Bakassi Island should not be ceded to Cameroon and that Nigeria should appeal the judgment of the International Court of Justice,” Senate President David Mark said.

There was no immediate reaction from Cameroon.

Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Stephen Powell

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