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Wednesday 4 May 2016

Bakassi Peninsula is your gift: Put your mind at rest, Buhari tells Cameroon

*As Biya denies harbouring terrorists
*Boko Haram suspects to face trial in home country Levinus Nwabughiogu

Against the backdrop of allegations that Nigeria was still accessing hydrocarbon from oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula, despite the judgement of the International Court of Justice, ICJ, that ceded the territory to the Republic of Cameroon, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, told his Cameroonian counterpart, Mr. Paul Biya, and his people to put their minds at rest.

The two countries also agreed to transfer arrested members of Boko Haram back to their countries of origin to face trial, in line with international best practices. Answering questions at a joint press briefing which followed the signing of a bilateral agreement on security, among others, between Nigeria and Cameroon, the President stated that a committee had been set up with members from both countries to deliberate on the matter. He said while the report of the committee was being awaited, the country needed not to worry as Nigeria would not go contrary to the decision of the ICJ. He said: “On this issue, I will like the government and people of Cameroon to keep their minds at peace. We are an internationally respectful and law abiding nation. “Somehow, there was crisis between the two nations on Bakassi Peninsula over the hydrocarbon exploitation.

This issue is being dealt with by the International Court of Justice. “The technical part of the extent of international interest forms the second part of your question. On maritime resources, there is a committee of experts, comprising Cameroon and Nigeria sides. “I cannot fully answer that question until after the results of this committee report gets to us and when they submit the report, I expect that with a few of us that are still around, we shall sit together and see what is the best way for the two countries. So, feel secured and be at peace.” Biya denies harbouring terrorists Also reacting to a question on why Cameroon allegedly harboured suspected terrorists who ran to the country for safety, visiting President Pual Biya said the allegation was unfounded, maintaining that Cameroon was committed to ending insurgency in Lake Chad basin. He said: “Yes I have heard of this information.

I heard it in New York during conferences that Cameroon serves as base for Boko Haram but what can Cameroon benefit from that? “Is it the ideologies? Are we going to benefit from finances? No. It was just bad press. Cameroon remains focused and committed to the fight against Boko Haram.”  Buhari lauds  Cameroon over IDPs Meanwhile, President Buhari at a dinner and cultural night organized in honour of the visiting President of Cameroon and his wife, Chantal, at the Presidential Villa, Tuesday night, appreciated the Cameroonian government for giving protection to over 56,000 Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, from Nigeria since July 2014. The President, at the dinner that attracted the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Chief Justice of the Federation, Mahmud Muktar, and top private sector and government functionaries from Cameroon, also thanked the United Nations and other international donor agencies for the various forms of assistance to IDPs across the country. He also condoled the families of Boko Haram victims along the Nigeria/Cameroon border.

He said: “Our special condolences go to families of our fallen heroes who had sacrificed their lives to safeguard our territorial integrity and provide security of lives and property of our people “Permit me to use this occasion of your excellency’s visit to Nigeria to once again extend my personal gratitude and that of the Federal Government for your country’s hosting of over 65,000 Nigerian refugees since July 2014. “We also appreciate the assistance of United Nations System, international donors, local and international non-governmental organisations and the ordinary Cameroonian families who share their meagre provisions with the refugees in the spirit of African brotherhood.

We thank them all.” Buhari, Biya commend Joint Task Force Meanwhile, both leaders who met behind closed doors, Tuesday, also commended the efforts of the Multinational Joint TaskForce, MNJTF which has been battling to root out Boko Haram insurgents from lake Chad region, having reached an agreement to transfer Boko Haram suspects to their home countries to stand trial. Reading the communique before signing the document on behalf of the Nigerian government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama alongside his Cameroonian counter-part, Mbela Mbela, said both countries also agreed that the tripartite meeting of the two countries and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, should be convened by July 2016.


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