No Concrete Evidence to Show Killing of 97 Nigerians by Cameroonians – Minister

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama, yesterday denied the killing of 97 Nigerians by Cameroonian gendarmes.

During a meeting between officials led by his representative and ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Olusola Emikanolaye and members of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, he stated that there was no concrete evidence to back the claim.

Onyeama said the statistics 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.”

Admitting that the Cameroonian authorities were yet to get back to Nigeria on the issue, he, however, disclosed that an independent investigation had shown that the killings never took place.

The minister recalled that the incident began with the deployment this month of a new Divisional Officer (DO) to Idabato sub-division of Cameroun to administer the Bakassi General Area.

“On assumption of office, the new DO commenced the imposition 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 yearly,” he said.

Onyeama continued:” Furthermore, taxes on packets of fish were raised from N200 to N1,000 while others were to pay N1,000 per head for goats slaughtered. “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.”

The Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje-led panel had expressed displeasure over the development, saying the parliament would initiate a legislative framework for a 10-year development plan for the development of the area.

A member of the committee, Daniel Reineiju, suggested that the fund should be drawn from major revenue-generating agencies and channeled to the provision of critical infrastructure and resettlement of the affected people on the Bakassi.

Elendu-Ukeje, however, 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 the area.




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