THEY began with a cry for help from their country. They wanted the Federal Government to take them back to their homeland in Bakassi. It is now about a decade since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the oil-rich Bakassi did not belong to Nigeria but Cameroun.
But for almost a decade, their hope has remained forlorn. So yesterday, the indigenes of Bakassi finally took their destiny in their own hands. They declared themselves independent of Nigeria. They went further. They hoisted their official flag and launched a radio station.
The Bakassi Self-Determination Front (BSDF) is the rallying point for all this. It hoisted a blue, white and red flag with 11 stars on the blue colour.
This development is coming a week after the Ogoni declared their independence on August 2, 2012.
The Bakassi’s radio station started transmission on August 6 at noon and operates on 4.2MHz and 5.2MHz band. The station, otherwise known as “Dayspring”, is part of efforts by the group to ensure the liberation of Bakassi people as well as disseminate information on developments.
Already, the Camerounian soldiers have piled up arms in the peninsula ready for any action as the Bakassi group had issued a two-week ultimatum to its people still living within the ceded territory to vacate or be crushed in a cross-fire.
In his maiden broadcast, the Commander-General of the BSDF, Ekpe Ekpenyong Oku, said: “Please for the umpteenth time, we plead with our people to leave Abana now. The fight is going to be thickest and fiercest now that our brothers from the northern and eastern flanks have fully arrived. Bakassi we hail thee.”
Oku revealed that arrangements had been concluded with some international liberation groups to assist the Bakassi natives in the battle ahead.
The Bakassi militant leader did not disclose details of the international liberation group but noted: “Ours will be a classical story of the elephant and the ant. The elephant will soon be driven frantic with ants all over its enormous bulk. The elephant will be so harassed and will find no respite and will dash itself against a tree trunk.
“Throughout history, injured people have had to resort to arms in their self-defence where peaceful negotiations fail. Bakassi people are no exception. Our right to self-determination is imminent; some will die, but some will live to reap from our labour.”
The BSDF warned all travellers on the sea to stay away as “August 11 and 12, 2012 this week will be bloody and is not good to travel on the sea.
“No sea movement so that you don’t have cause to regret. There shall be no movement of boats from Ikang or Marina beach to Cameroun on these two days. Be warned.
“We call on men of goodwill, individuals, human rights organisations and the indigenous people of Bakassi to join hands in resisting and fighting the present international conspiracy.”
In the wake of the Green Tree Agreement, (GTA) in 2006, a group under the name ‘Bakassi Freedom Fighters’ had threatened to seek independence if Nigeria renounced sovereignty.
The group even went ahead to hoist the then Bakassi flag of the rising sun in Abana, the headquarters of Bakassi now in Cameroun.
But a few days to handing over Bakassi to Cameroun at the Government House in Calabar, Cross River State, the leader of the militant group, Tony Ene, died in a mysterious road accident along Calabar-Itu highway.
The federal and state governments were strongly fingered in the death of Ene.
Now, tension is high in the peninsula as some Nigerians have started fleeing the area for safety as it is alleged that the village head of Ekoi, near Abana, Chief Okon Effiong Esu, is missing and there is the fear that he might have been killed by Camerounian soldiers.