AK Bakassi Returnees Stage Peaceful Protest
Bakassi returnees in Akwa
Ibom have staged a peace
ful protest over the abuse of human rights of Nigerians and particularly Akwa Ibom indigenes resident in the Bakassi Peninsula.
The aggrieved Bakassi returnees who took their protest to the Office of the National Human Rights Commission, Akwa Ibom State, recently, said their action was to call for urgent intervention by relevant bodies following a report dated August 14, 2017 from the peninsula.
The national coordinator of the Bakassi Returnees and Displaced Nigerian Citizens, Prince Aston Inyang, who led the protest, disclosed that the said report was overforceful taxation by the Cameroonian authority and other inhuman conducts as well as the detention of four Nigerian nationals labelled with false allegations by the Cameroonian authority who oversee the activities of Bakassi zone.
Inyang clearly noted that this irrational action is a conspiracy between the divisional officer (DO) and the deputy mayor, both in Idabatu Sub-division as renamed by Cameroon of the former Nigerian territory, popularly known as Atabong, stressing that the four Nigerians maliciously arrested and detained in an unknown cell by the Cameroon divisional officers are Bassey Utong, Ndung Ndung, Asukwo Atteh and Joseph Isang, who are Nigerian community leaders in the Bakassi zone.
The national coordinator confirmed that the major cause of the problem was traced to the forceful change of community leaders by the Cameroonian authority that Nigerians should be subjected to pay forceful taxes, that the leader previously reported the bad manner of hostile life of the Cameroon authority to the United Nations (UN) and the Nigerian government of the July eviction of Nigerians over taxation as well as forceful payment of taxes through their newly appointed leaders.
He maintained that in every community in the world, leaders are chosen by the people, especially when it concerns local entity and tradition, adding that it was against the fundamental human rights for forceful intervention that led to the detention and illegal retention of money forcefully from the Nigerian community.
Inyang further explained that the four Nigerians have been detained for more than one week, first in Diamond and later transferred to Jabanne (Abana) and Mudemba, the headquarters of Ndian Division respectively to be taken to court on a false allegation, describing their action as illegal kidnap on people of natural integrity and a misdirective of judicial action and justice oppression.
The national coordinator hinted that at the cost of their arrest, the D.O of Idabatu requested the four detainees to pay N27,000 each as part of payment of tax, leading to sale of property by their wives to ensure that they pay the said money, noting that 18 persons had paid the same N27,000 each, making a total of N594,000, even as they forcefully collected their fish and crayfish from the Nigerian community.
He appealed to the state coordinator and other human rights agencies to use their good offices to intervene as a matter of urgency for justice to prevail as their wives and children were crying for help.
Responding, Mr Tony Iji, the state coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Akwa Ibom State, commended the returnees for their peaceful conduct during the protest, promising to liaise with the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), the State Emergency Management Authority (SEMA) and the state government to ensure that internally- displaced persons (IDPs) are properly settled.
The state coordinator charged the IDPs who are currently in Cameroon Republic to obey the laws of Cameroon as a sovereign nation, and those in Nigeria should also conduct themselves peacefully while patiently waiting for government to look into their case.