Nigeria, Cameroun demarcate boundary
A statement from the National Boundary Commission (NBC) in Nigeria reported the leader of the Nigerian delegation at the joint commission, Bola Ajibola, who was represented by the Director General of NBC, Saddiq Marafa Diggi, to have said that the pillar implantation signified that both countries had established a legal boundary by which immigration services would clearly see and know the limits of their administrative or operational jurisdiction.
Signed by the Assistant Director in charge of Information, Charles Dafe, the statement quoted Diggi to have said that it was difficult to state the exact time the pillar emplacement would wind up. “We shall be fixing main pillars along the international boundary after every five kilometre distance with an intermediate beacon to be implanted every half kilometre to make the marking easily noticeable,” he was quoted to have said.
While he promised that the team would do its best to complete the task in good time, Diggi noted that as for the settlements straddled along the boundary, their ownership would be negotiated.
On the fear that the pillars might be removed, relocated or destroyed by dwellers of some settlements along the boundary, he said: “These new pillars shall not be removed, for till date, there are still 100 years noticeable beacons implanted by our colonial masters along our international boundaries.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on States and Local Governments, Senator Sahabi Yau’ Alhaji, who was on the occasion, was reported to have said that the exercise had permanently averted wars over boundary dispute and that it was an indication that Africa had come of age in areas of conflict resolution through dialogue.
According to Surveyor General of the Federation, Austin Njepuome, the exercise has perfected the Nigeria/Cameroun international boundary. He added that the World Court, like the colonial masters, only described the boundary on paper, but that the pillar implantation had eventually perfected the boundary demarcation.
Njepuome was also reported to have exonerated Nigeria’s cartographers from the blame of giving Cameroun an advantage to claim Bakassi because that portion did not appear on the Nigerian map until 1992. “The verdict of the World Court did not hinge on that. I’m blaming the loss on our colonial masters who left behind several documents, which gave Cameroun the advantage of getting Bakassi. It was not the fault of our cartographers at all,” he said.
Cameroun’s Vice President and Minister of Justice with keeper of the seal, Alhaji Amadou Ali, on the occasion, was said to have advised the border dwellers that the pillar emplacement did not in any way separate them but should be seen as a bridge that unites them.
He hinted that the demarcation would move some Camerounian settlements into Nigeria and advised Camerounians who may be affected to either choose to remain where they are living now and respect the laws of Nigeria or to relocate and return to Camerounian territory.
Representative of the United Nations and leader of Nigeria/Cameroun Mixed Commission, Ambassador Said Djinnit, appealed to the international communities to further assist his commission with more funds to successfully accomplish the demarcation along the boundary. He thanked earlier donors such as European Union, Britain and France for their assistance.