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Nigeria to probe violence in Bakassi Peninsula - UN official

24 June 2005 The head of the United Nations Office in West Africa (UNOWA) today called for calm and praised Nigeria’s decision to conduct a full investigation into the first deadly incident in the disputed Bakassi Pennisula border area in nearly a decade in which one Cameroonian soldier was allegedly killed and another wounded.

“I trust that the Government of Nigeria will conduct its investigation in as serious, transparent and speedy manner the issue deserves,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said in a statement.

“Should the investigation confirm the reports of repeated incidents, I would expect the Nigerian Government to take immediate and appropriate action towards all involved,” the statement said, adding: “Their backers should not be spared.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Presidents Paul Biya [of Cameroon] and Olusegun Obasanjo [of Nigeria] for the wise and able fashion in which the have handled this incident so far,” it said.

According to the statement the reported incidents are taking place at a time when the two countries and the United Nations technical teams have successfully complete the first demarcation steps in the field. [They] also come in the wake of last month’s tripartite summit in Geneva, where the two presidents met with Mr. Annan and discussed peaceful and amicable implementation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Bakassi Peninsula and the Maritime Boundary as well.

The statement adds that Mr. Ould-Abdallah will visit the two capitals this weekend in order to gather more information on the matter.

Located at the border area, the Peninsula has been a subject of intense, sometimes violent, disputes between the two countries for dozens of years.

The ICJ ruling dates back to 1994, when Cameroon asked the Court to rule on a dispute relating to sovereignty over the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula, which it claimed was in part under military occupation by Nigeria, and to determine the maritime boundary between the countries. In October 2002 the Court awarded sovereignty rights over the area Cameroon.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah also chairs the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, set up by the UN to peacefully resolve the dispute.


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