Nigeria set for Bakassi handover

Nigeria set for Bakassi handoverNigeria is due to complete the final handover of the potentially
oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon, ending a long-standing
territorial dispute.

The flag swapping ceremony in the main town on the peninsular, Abuna, has been scaled down due to security concerns.

The majority of the local population considers itself Nigerian, but an international court ruled in favour of Cameroon in 2002.

Over the past year about 50 people have been killed in clashes.

The International Court of Justice ruling was based on an early 19th Century colonial agreement between Britain and Germany.

Nigeria challenged the ruling, but finally agreed to relinquish the territory two years ago.

Part of the territory was handed over to Cameroon two years ago.

‘Model settlement’

A spokesman for Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua said the process was
"painful…. for everyone including the president", but added that
Nigeria had made "a commitment to the international community and we
have a responsibility to keep it".

Cameroon said the final handover would mark "the end of a crisis".

The transfer of Bakassi had been described by UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-Moon as "a model for negotiated settlements of border
disputes".

A group of Bakassi leaders have been seeking compensation from the Nigerian government.

About 90% of the population of the area is made up of Nigerian fishermen, estimated to number up to 300,000.

An area has been set aside by Nigeria for people moved out of Bakassi, but it has no access to the sea, campaigners say.

Bakassi has a rich fishing culture and people say the handover has destroyed their way of life.

The Bakassi peninsula juts out into the Gulf of Guinea close to the Niger Delta.

Its offshore waters are thought to contain substantial oil
fields – untapped because of the border dispute – which Nigeria and
Cameroon will now work together to explore.