Nigeria’ll not appeal Bakassi judgment – AGF

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN)

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN)

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, has said Nigeria will not apply for the review of the judgment of the International Court of Justice, ceding the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon.

Adoke, in a statement on Monday, explained that the argument canvassed by the proponents of the review “is virtually bound to fail” as “a failed application will be diplomatically damaging to Nigeria”.

The window to ask for a review of the judgment delivered on October 10, 2012 ends today. By the court’s statute, a party can call for a review of its verdict within 10 years if there are fresh facts.

The government decison is certain to disappoint a section of Nigerians who had campaigned for a review of the ICJ judgment.

It was learnt that the Bakassi issue would be addressed by President Goodluck Jonathan during a nationwide broadcast at 7am today.

Feelers late last night indicated that the President would use the broadcast to assuage the feelings of Nigerians on the Bakassi issue.

The AGF said the committee, set up by President Goodluck Jonathan had weighed the implications of a failed review, having noted the stringent condition attached to such review, and had advised Nigeria against appealing the judgment.

He said, “The committee proceeded to examine the case for revision against the requirements of Article 61 of the ICJ Statute and was constrained to observe from the oral presentations made to it by the proponents of the revision that the strict requirements of Article 61 could not be satisfied.

“This is because their presentation was unable to show that Nigeria had discovered a decisive fact that was unknown to her before the ICJ judgment, which is capable of swaying the Court to decide in its favour. This is more so as most of the issues canvassed in support of the case for a revision of the ICJ judgment had been canvassed and pronounced upon by the ICJ in its 2002 judgment.

“The Federal Government also retained a firm of international legal practitioners to advise on the merits and demerits of the case for revision. The firm, after considering all the materials that were placed at its disposal against the requirements of Article 61 of the ICJ Statute came to the reasoned conclusion that ‘an application for a review is virtually bound to fail’ and that ‘a failed application will be diplomatically damaging to Nigeria’.

“In view of the foregoing, the Federal Government has therefore decided that it will not be in the national interest to apply for revision of the 2002 ICJ Judgment in respect of the Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria.”

Adoke however expressed the concern of the FG on “the plight of Nigerians living in the Bakassi Peninsula and the allegations of human rights abuses being perpetrated against Nigerians in the Peninsula”.

He said, “The FG is determined to engage Cameroon within the framework of the existing implementation mechanisms agreed to by Nigeria and Cameroon in order to protect the rights and livelihoods of Nigerians living in the Peninsula.”

So it seems, going by indication that the Federal Government had yet to call for a review of the International Court of Justice judgment ceding the peninsula to neighbouring Cameroon.

Meanwhile, an Abuja Federal High Court will today deliver ruling in a suit in which Bakassi indigenes are seeking an order compelling Jonathan and the Federal Government to void the Green Tree Agreement signed with Cameroon in 2006.

In a motion ex-parte moved by their counsel, Mr. Festus A. Ogwuche, before Justice Gabriel Kolawole, the Bakassi indigenes asked for an order of mandamus that would compel the President to, “by any means available to it, repossess, occupy and take full legal and administrative control of the Bakassi Peninsula.”

The motion was filed pursuant to section 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Enforcement and Ratification Act Cap 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, as well as Order 34 Rules 1(a), 3(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2007.

The Federal Government, Jonathan and the AGF were joined as the respondents in the suit.

The Bakassi indigenes sought leave for an order of mandamus, compelling the respondents to “unilaterally resile from, withdraw, rescind, repudiate and/or revoke Nigeria’s obligations under the Green Tree Agreement” entered into between Nigeria and Cameroon in Green Tree, New York, USA on June 12, 2006, for being invalid and in breach of Articles 1, 2, 20, 21, 22 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 1 (2) of the UN Charter, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of indigenous peoples, and also being inconsistent with sections 1-3, 2(1) and (6), 13, 14(1) and (2)(b), 17(1), (2)(b), (c) and (d), sections 19(a) and 9d0, 21(a) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

They maintained that the ICJ gave its judgment based “on archaic and anachronistic colonial declarations, and communications between colonial officers.”

After listening to the submissions of the counsel for the Bakassi indigenes when the ex parte motion was heard on Friday, Kolawole adjourned the ruling till today, saying he needed time to carefully study the court processes “in view of weighty national issues raised therein.”


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