The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wednesday said there is no evidence that 97 Nigerians have been killed by Cameroonian Gendarmes.
Rather, the ministry said that the 97 figure being bandied “was also an accumulation of figure of all the Nigerians that have lost their lives in previous incidents in the Bakassi area since 2008.”
Speaking before the Hon. Nnena Elendu- Ukeje headed House committee on Foreign Affairs probing the matter yesterday the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Olusola Emikanolaye, who represented the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said though the Cameroonian authorities are yet to get back to Nigeria on the issue, independent investigation has shown that such killings did not happen.
However, he noted that the incident started following the deployment in July 2017 of a new Divisional Officer (DO) to Idabato sub- division of Cameroon to administer the Bakassi General Area.
“On assumption of office the new DO commenced the imposition of of new taxes on the residents after a meeting with all the Chiefs.
“Accordingly, all men engaged in fishing and other business activities in the area were to pay N55, 000, women. 30,000 and churches N50, 000 per annum.”
“Furthermore, taxes in packets of fish were raised from N200 to N1, 000 whole other were to pay N1,000 per head for goats slaughtered by them.
“The sanctions placed on the residents for violation of the tax rules include seizure of their boats and enforcement to pay double the amount of the initial tax. This accounts for the N100, 000 which was hitherto heralded in the news and initial reports as the amount of the tax to be paid by Nigerians.”
On the development fund, a member of the committee , Daniel Reineiju said the fund should be drawn from major revenue generating agencies and channeled to provision of critical infrastructure and resettlement of the affected people in Bakassi.
But other members of the committee while buying into the idea were concerned about how to ensure accountability for the resources provided within the 10-year period.
Chairperson of the committee Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, stressed the need to ascertain the authenticity of the N35 billion said to have been released to the Cross River State government for the development of Bakassi.
According to her, the state government should account for the huge funds as captured in the reports presented to the Committee.
While stressing the need for accountability of the resources within the proposed agency, Elendu-Ukeje said the Nigerian government should be more responsive to the needs of the Bakassi people.