Nigerian Army Amphibious Forces Suncraft landing craft exits Cameroon's Bakassi Peninsula, Aug.2008

Nigerian Army Amphibious Forces Suncraft landing craft exits Cameroon’s Bakassi Peninsula, Aug.2008

14 August, 2013
by Moki Edwin Kindzeka

Following a half-decade of preparations,
Cameroon is assuming full control of the
oil-rich peninsula of Bakassi, which has
long been at the center of a territorial
dispute with neighboring Nigeria.

In keeping with a 2002 International Court of Justice ruling that ceded the territory to Yaounde, some 300,000 Nigerians living on the peninsula — approximately 90 percent of its population — must now obtain residence permits and be treated as foreign nationals living in Cameroon if they choose to stay after Wednesday’s
deadline.Until now, all of the peninsula’s inhabitants were given the option to assume Cameroonian citizenship or treated as foreigners should they decide to stay.

However, some peninsula residents claim a right to dual citizenship and say they shouldn’t be forced to make such a
decision. “First of all I am born in Cameroon so I am an indigene of Cameroon,” explained 27-year-old Daniel Labawa.”My parents are Nigerian and my mother from Benue State.”

Although Bakassi has been experiencing
changes since the Nigerian military and
administration left in 2008, residents
such as 36-year-old Nigerian
businesswoman Janette Etta says
Cameroon has yet to make its presence felt, neglecting even to circulate currency. “We use Nigerian money,” she said. George Obi, 18, however, the change is palpable. “Since Cameroon took charge, hospitals have come here,” he said.”There were only mud houses here, but now we got a lot of fine houses. I love to be a Cameroonian.” ”

A lot has been done in Bakassi,” said
William Elangwe Etoe of Cameroon’s
Ministry of Labor, who works in Bakassi. He said Yaounde has invested substantially in buildings for training
centers. “The first thing was to create two centers, one in Akwa and one in
Isangele,” he said. While Cameroonian officials say they have worked hard to make people who want to live on the peninsula comfortable, some Nigerians still complain of harassment by Cameroonian soldiers, and two months ago a dispute between Nigerian businessmen and Cameroonian tax collectors forced local officials to impose a curfew throughout the region.

“We had recalcitrant taxpayers which led to a protest,” said Bernard Okalia Bilai,governor of Cameroon’s South West
Region where Bakassi is located.”Protesters went as far as attacking the
mayor who orders the collection of the
taxes,” he added, explaining that the
events led to arrests, and that soldiers
were attempting to maintain law and

But Cameroonian soldiers have clashed
with local resistance groups. In 2001, for
example, 11 Cameroonian soldiers were
declared missing and two dead in what
was reported as a pirate attack. A group
called the Bakassi Freedom fighters claimed responsibility — vowing that
Bakassi will find no peace under
Cameroon’s rule. The group said it was
protesting the 2002 International Court
of Justice decision and the United
Nations-supervised Green Tree agreement which gave Bakassi to

The legacy left by Nigeria in Bakassi is
still strong. Nigeria has trained health
workers and teachers who remain in the
territory. Portions of the area now officially under Cameroon’s control are still in need of potable water and electricity.

About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. peccavi says:

    I tire.
    When Nigerians want to be Nigerians we give them to other countries
    When Nigerians don’t want to be Nigerians we wage war on them
    Honestly once we have sorted out our internal issues I would put securiy priorities as follows
    Recover Bakassi
    Delineate the EEZ and guarantee its security
    An expeditionary force based on a Helicopter carrier
    Total radar coverage of the air and a permanent ECOWAS Battle Group based on a Nigerian Brigade with basing rights in all ECOWAS countries with pre positioned supplies
    Basing rights in Equatorial Guinea

  2. Gen Peccavi…On spot there Sir. If i ever become President of Nigeria my first task would be to recover Bakassi at all cost. Can u please explain the logic behind the Helicopter carrier expeditionary force?

    • peccavi says:

      Oga Optimusprime: i believe in order to project force a country with a coast needs a Navy, however a Naval force is vulnerable to air attack and submarines. The best way to defend against air attack at sea is stay away from the coast and have aircraft of your own, i.e. an aircraft carrier, we are not yet at the stage of aircraft carrier so an assault carrier to start up with and train a generation of officers in naval air warfare. The helicopter is also the best defence against submarines.
      However a Helicopter Naval Group to me fulfils the following functions
      1) Projects force: Nigeria could drop an amphibious battle group with armour and artillery, supported by attack helicopters and supplied by support helicopters from the carrier.
      2) Protect our coast and EEZ. Helicopters and aircraft operating off land protect our near coastline while a carrier deployed in international waters extends our maritime coverage, giving us the ability to interdict far at sea, protect the EEZ and more importantly blockade or at least threaten to blockade other countries ports
      3) Conduct relief operations rather than waiting for the Western or Eastern powers to send aid we can ship it to the affected country and fly it in. Imagine Nigeria’s prestige if we had sent a frigate with a Lynx on it to Haiti? Much less a carrier
      4) As I said above trains up an entire generation of officers and men in naval operations

      A pipe dream I know but one can dream

      • freeegulf says:

        gen peccavi, its really not a pipe dream. all it take is bold leadership and insight on the part of our political masters. marshal beegs have been screaming for LPDs for years now. even if they decide to open credit facilities for these acquisition, they would by now have completed finance payments.

        no one is asking for NN to have an installation in the pacific ocean. but it does not take a moon landing to to patrol and dominate the gulf of guinea. we should be able to project power from equatorial guinea and cape verde in the west, down to Angola in central africa.

        our leaders like goodies but without the responsibilities that go with them. we are clamoring for perm seat at the UNSC. how serious is that when we cant even protect our EEZ. how can we say we re serious about perm seat when we don’t have a viable green water (not even blue) navy. when 20m boats are celebrated like flagship frigates and destroyers. ASW for the navy has been non a existent for decades now. did they try to revive this critical arm of the navy? there are decent german submarines out there, what is the navy doing about procurement of subs and anti ship guided missiles.

        when the air force cannot even boast of a 4th gen fighter or even modern SAMs (if we want to do air defence on the cheap). Airlift is still suspect, NA dream of aviation command is still just that…a dream.

        ethiopia swooped the SU-30s in one go. and we still cant decide if we need multi-role jets or continue to grease the old alpha jet trainers as combat platforms. 14 years after military rule! with billions of external reserve. the Nigerian leadership is so myopic to the point of ridiculousness

        the worn out excuses where that we re surrounded by weak nations. no imminent threat. Nigeria does not face any external threat. no need to spend hard earned dollars on expensive toys.
        well, all these excuses have now been eroded and have all fallen face flat as fallacies. we now have pirates making our coasts look like Somalia. boko haram are operating from several countries. bakasi peninsula we where unable to defend. french frigate on our EEZ (who knows how many submarines have done reconnaissance on our coast while our navy brass where busy flying the 109s, VIPs style) and where upstaged in Mali.

        so when are we going to get serious? when the country is completely disemboweled. well, we are not going to be the first in this stupidity scale. during the last days of desire joseph ala mobutu, his henchmen spent more time carting away their precious wealth than combating the rebels. most of them had mansions in SA and relocated their wealth and families forthwith. our useless leaders are capable of worse. thank God we still have a cohesive military. the armed forces is the only institution holding Nigeria together.

        just don’t want to get started on this ludicrous state of affair of the nation. however, we deserve better. the public, and the military deserves better.

      • jimmy says:

        Oga peccavi it is not a pipe dream this should be our reality . Please go to the issue raised on the MOU b/w the U.K AND Nigeria when you have the time. I would like to read your thoughts.It is not a dream I repeat the problem is not the dream the problem is our level of expectation for ourselves. This is not a religious blog and i try to respect all faiths here but…… I can do ALL THINGS THROUGH Christ who strengthens me. To my Muslim brethren please do not take offense I am sure their is an appropriate verse that talks about the high level of expectation of the individual in the Koran.
        One day we will have leadership that will reflect the views on this blog. Then watch out.

  3. camouflage1984 says:

    I dont like reading anything about Bakassi…i come down with depression. Excuse me please

  4. Tunde Olayinka says:

    Sirs i have a query. I recall that a defence and security issue argument was canvassed back then against the transfer of Bakassi to Cameroun by Nigeria.

    Specifically it was with regard to the issue of the navigable waters or approach channel leading up to the Calabar port where the naval base was located.

    I believe then the argument was that since the ICJ judgment decided that most of the approach channel lies within the territory decided to be part of Cameroun, the vessels would have had problems approaching the Naval base because they would then have had to enter the base through Cameroun waters effectively.

    I would like to know if anyone is aware that such a situation truly existed in the first place and how the Navy has addressed the issue since the ICJ decision.

    • Obix says:

      Oga Beag, Tunde asked a good question. I remember the NN raised those concerns after the ICJ judgment. In effect, any ship sailing in or out of the calabar port needs permision from Cameroon. There were different solutions brought up then. Does anyone know how that issue was solved?

  5. freeegulf says:


  6. freeegulf says:

    its always depressing when ever i read about the peninsula in the hands of a weaker neighbor. our leaders deserved to be shot!
    it churns my stomach just reading about the bakassi peninsula.
    @gen peccavi, well done, u couldn’t have put it better. seconded.
    @oga camo, it is still shocking to see a big nation generously ‘dashing’ territory to a smaller and weaker neighbor. really depressing.

  7. beegeagle says:

    Generalissimo Freeegulf, check your email.

  8. Henry says:


  9. beegeagle says:

    Yes, it is a very valid question. Of all the people I have talked DEFSEC with since 2009, Oga Freeegulf understands the salient details the most. I am sure he will fill us in on the details.

    But I want to believe that all of that was resolved during the talks which preceded the Green Tea Agreement. There is a port at Calabar still and the NNS Thunder just sailed to Australia from Calabar. I am not aware and I doubt that they had to pass through Cameroonian waters before accessing international waters.

    As a matter of fact, a Cameroonian merchant ship was arrested a while ago in that axis for an infraction related to territorial integrity.

    I doubt that we would have conceded something that integral to trade and security and the American, French and British sponsors of the GTA would easily have got an amenable Cameroon to concede full ‘access to sea’ rights, even if the sealane was theirs by implication – just so that peace reigns.

  10. jimmy says:

    As the reality on the ground and based on what I have seen Nigeria does not have / nor need permission for Cameroon to pass through the inlet waters off CALABAR or even BAKASSI .OGA camouflage1984 come out of your depression Nigeria based on the gta agreement infers will control the naval areas till to date Not a single naval vessel from Nigeria has ever been been approached by the virtually non existent Cameroon navy .Cameroon with a non existent brown Navy cannot really offer up anything. More importantly to Nigeria than Bakassi is the Nigeria Navy being A FULL BLOODED blue Navy.

  11. freeegulf says:

    yes. like marshal beeg said, we have sea rights and access to the port of calabar. the navy has total access to installations in that maritime corridor. my only fear is that, in case of war, what contingency plan has the navy prepared to protect and defend this corridor. mind you, this is going to be a pocket that we have to carry out amphibious maneuvers in, so the vulnerability of calabar seaport should never be underestimated or negated.

    cameroun is not my problem. if we put our act together, we will recover bakassi in quick time. our lens should be focused more on france and the united states. france will play colonial power with cameroun (of course, total elf fina has billions of investment in nigeria) and would work a fine line. but the USA is a whole different animal. the middle east is becoming too unstable and america is has been steadily re-focusing her gaze. one of these new ‘views’ is the gulf of guinea. this zone will become steadily militarize. it is only appropriate that we maintain SUPREMACY in this zone, without foreign navies (or armies for that matter) zooming in.

    let us show some seriousness and convince the Americans that we can protect the gulf and guarantee the uninterrupted supply of crude oil without the need for AFRICOM base or western navies taking advantage of a dodgy situation.

    we can only do this by equipping the navy and air force to carry out joint maritime patrol. our present situation is beyond rational. we cant even strike at targets from maiduguri, sokoto, lagos without the need for external FOBs. how can we show seriousness when we lack decent fighter jets and ocean going fighting vessels. our defence acquisitions need to be more dynamic

  12. Obix says:

    My Ogas, I just checked out the maritime border between Nigeria and cameroon as shown by the United Nations Cartographic Section (UNCS) Nigeria has sea rights and access to the Calabar port and beyond . Just like Oga freegulf mentioned, the only fear in case of war, what contingency plan has the navy prepared to protect and defend this corridor?. Early last month myself, Oga freegulf and other ogas here disected this topic and the next day NAF announced the setting up af a new airbase at Bebbi (Obudu mountain). I think it’s Cameroon that has to worry. Without outside help, they don’t have anything to offer!

  13. freeegulf says:

    comrade col gen obix, thanks for the formal fact finding. like i mentioned earlier, cameroun is not our headache. a battle group made up of two NA brigades will overrun cameroun in days. in fact, invading cameroun from the old gongola axis, and the borno axis with motorized units will finish off the republic of cameroun even before the french deploy completely from Gabon. meaning, we don’t even need to deploy gunboats from the akwa ibom and cross river states fronts before striking at the jugular.
    our heartburn comes from french interest, and even more dangerously at present, american interest. do we have enough deterrence (other than economic assets, which themselves are vulnerable) to keep the french out? we don’t have to fight them. that is not the goal. our objective is to be strong enough to make sure the french don’t even contemplate a show of force. it will be in the interest of paris to sit both sides down and negotiate than deploying the foreign legion. that is what military might brings to the table!

    as for the Americans, we should make sure they do not establish any military bases in the gulf of guinea. their oil interests supersedes any so called friendship that Nigerians fondly like alluding to.

    we made two mistakes in the past. the first is that we did not annex fernado po in the mid 70s when we had the political will.
    the second is that we did not put boots on ground as far as the rio del rey. the contention would have been impractical with our troops in the rio del rey estuary.

  14. jimmy says:

    UNA DEY KILL ME O ! OYA FREEGULF when they commot me from work i go be your houseboy wash oga motor, everyday take oga Shildren emphasis on the” s” go school ,
    On a MORE SERIOUS NOTE OGA OBIX nice research. OGA FREEGULF well done I hear you loud and clear.

  15. freeegulf says:

    oga jimmy abeg work plenty o. we need the dollars lol. especially as we need to send correspondent to cover PSOs of nigerian army. sha, this bakassi issue they always boil my blood. as big as russia, dem no gree dash japan kuril islands. the decay in our society is mind boggling. never, it just doesn’t happen. whether the camerounian claim is right or not (listen oga yagz) you don’t willingly give out territorial rights how much more generously give an entire landmass! it is the height of irresponsibility.

    the eyes of the ball has always been on Rio Del Rey. so when did we start cutting back in claims and boundaries? my respect for OBJ went south after this affair. i can understand shifting grounds and compromise in domestic roforofo politics. but when the territorial integrity of Nigeria is at stake, it is non- negotiable. why do we have FGN if they cant even guarantee and protect our borders and citizens.

    is a failure of the Nigerian leadership that resulted in the french intervention in Mali early this year. Nigeria, with a well oil system should be the cornerstone of regional stabilization.
    pax Nigeriana ensures asserting bold leadership in west and central africa. coup plotters and non state forces in any part of these regions should calculate the Nigerian effect and reaction to whatever stunts they are about to pull. that is Nigeria’s rightful position and not metropolitan France. unfortunately, our thieving leaders are too greedy to see pass their nose and primordial thinking.

  16. G8T Nigeria says:

    U see my friends when u reduce yourself to a level where u exchange vituperative speeches with an agbero then u have a problem. If Nigeria had expressed dissatisfaction and went further to deploy troops and warships in Bakassi, probably we could have achieved better attention on the Bakassi saga. The French needed a colony in Africa where their interest on resources could play more. They sold the idea to CAM and have them push on over the years with underground work to ensure Nigeria supports the idea of resolving the case through ICJ. Are we the only signatory to ICJ? did the Russians forget their position in UN when they invaded Georgia or where the Chinese so forgetful of their roles as a permanent UNSC member when they deployed forces in disputed islands? Why was the verdict given at a time a French judge was in charge? we cannot ignore all the whys but certainly we are becoming too weak to allow Cam embarrass our people, kill them anyhow under our very eyes in the name of ICJ verdict. That is a violation of the green tree agreement and the recent attack on Nigerians was enough to take ruthless decisions. The French monopoly was at work again trying to undermine Nigeria’s effort in Mali operation with UN keeping AFISMA on hold till the French arrive. They did all to blackmail us to the extent of rubbishing our contributions by stamping a Rwandan general on us. I think we are fast degrading our selves. If I were to be in charge, I would capitalize on any attempt to attack Nigerians living in the Bakassi peninsula, get that place back and sue them for breach of the Green Tree Agreement. Tell me if I wont be elected again if our leaders really knw how to score political points. In the long run, there is no way out, the way forward is to make cautious effort to bring Nigerians home rather leaving them to make choices. I could build better schools and hospitals to the amazements of CAM leaving along the line. U DARE NOT CROSS.

  17. freeegulf says:

    its beyond rationale. our leaders are too lazy to concern themselves with geopolitics and assertive foreign policy.
    for our leaders, scoring political points means playing the ethnic and religious card. the idea of even given out territory is sickening.

  18. Yagazie says:

    Gentlement, much as I agree with your nationalistic sentiments on this issue, the fact is that the Bakassi Peninsula IS NOT Nigerian territory. It has always been Camerounian territory – albeit occupied my people of nigerian extraction. In April 3013 on this blog I had posted comments to this effect. I again respectfully refer you to an excellent treatise on this matter titled “The Bakassi Story” which can be found at : http// Having said that, I however firmly believed that as possession is 9/10ths of the law (and we had boots on the ground-so to speak), and considering it’s strategic millitary/economic/geographic/socio-cultural and historic importance to our country, we should never have given it up – and should have millitarised the whole zone if need be. ICJ and the UN be damned.

  19. anas says:

    Our govt can take a cue frm pakistan and start sponsoring these freedom fighters , some of them can come to nigeria for extensive trainin and afterwards they will be sent bak to bakassi to wreck havoc on d camerounians and their collaborators

  20. Yagazie says:

    Anas, with all due respect – I don’t think that thats a good idea. What goes around comes around. Firstly we voluntarily gave up Bakassi- we could have ignored the ICJ and UN and held unto the territory but we chose not to do so. Secondly will it really be in our strategic national interest to adopt such a course of action? What then stops the Camerounians from sponsoring and training niger delta militants to attack our oil installations in the creeks or worse still allowing BH to set up training camps to conduct cross border raids into Northern Nigeria? Its in everyones interest (and our strategic national interiest) to have peace and stability in the Gulf of Guinea region .

    • peccavi says:

      What stops Cameroun from sponsoring Niger Delta militants is the development of the Niger Delta so there is no cause for militancy.

      Bakassi and what was the Northern Camerouns were Nigerian, they were separated from Nigeria by a falsified plebiscite . The British did it to neuter the power of certain of the NCNC. I dispute the fact that they are Camerounian or even particularly want to be Camerounian. Self determination trumps territorial integrity in international law so if an indigent population wishes to be a certain nationality that trumps all else.

      Like everything in Nigeria we ignore the wahala of tomorrow for todays quick solution

  21. beegeagle says:

    It is not a pipe dream, Peccavi. The acquisition of LPDs (plural) is detailed in the ongoing 10-Year Strategic Acquisition Plan of the Nigerian Navy.

    Is it attainable? Absolutely. A Nigeria which splashed out US$150+ million to acquire to stealth OPVs in 2012 cannot spend US$100 million on a pair of qualitative Daewoo Makassar-class LPDs?

    Yes, we can. We only need to focus more intensely on the targets which we set for ourselves.

    However, I am more interested in using them for maritime security pursuits in our EEZ and the Gulf of Guinea. We have Oil Joint Development Zones with Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome with production sharing formulae of 60:40 in favour of Nigeria and with the maritime security commitments falling heavily on Nigeria.

    For sentimental reasons, Sao Tome have very warm relations with Nigeria and unlike France, Portugal are not so obtrusive. We can very easily get basing rights in Sao Tome, who are our nextdoor maritime neighbours, as are Equato-Guinea.

    • peccavi says:

      I definitely agree with having basing rights in Sao Tome, my reasons for those bases are to dominate the southern sea lanes/ approaches but more importantly to give EG and Angola something to worry about

  22. Obix says:

    The rightful ownership of Bakassi will remain a tough aguiment. But the fact that the previous governments mishandled the case. After the occupied the penninsular there wasn’t a game plan by the Abacha regime. A millitary occupations was only on their minds. The government should have organized a referendum in Bakassi. With the results showing that the citizens of Bakassi want to be under Nigerian rule, we could have kept away from the ICJ and gone further into full time occupation with development programmes for the territory. Britain did that recently in the Falkland islands, hitting a psychological blow to aggitations by the Argentine government.

  23. beegeagle says:


    Oga Nnamdi, Nigeria have Joint Development Zones for oil with Equato-Guinea and Sao Tome. Both arrangements detail a 60:40 sharing formula in favour of Nigeria and also encapsulate joint security protocols on the defence of the resource-rich areas within which context your suggestion is plausible given the fact that much of the tasks attendant to that fall to Nigeria.

    Beyond that, we have very good relations with Sao Tome who are our nextdoor maritime neighbours in Central Africa.

    During the mid-2000s, their President was toppled whilst he was visiting Nigeria. After several days during which the mutineers held out, President Obasanjo told them to stand down or have their coup reversed by direct military action. The putschists blinked but President Obasanjo did not stop at that. Alongside CDS General Ogomudia and the Guards Brigade Commander, he shepherded the President back to his country and he continued to serve as his country’s leader.

    Expectedly, that has engendered very warm relations between Sao Tome and Nigeria ever since.

  24. doziex says:

    Oga yagazie, this was a territorial dispute that dates back to world war 1.

    A border demarcation error between the Kaiser and the Queen Elizabeth 1.

    After Germany’s defeat in ww1, the French and the English victors took over and propagated this error.

    We all know about NCNC and the fact that Anglophone cameroun wanted to, and nearly joined Nigeria.

    So far bakassi had been a mistake of other peoples making.

    That is until General Gowon rewarded the camerounians for participating in the blockade and strangling of Biafra.

    He did this by ceding the bakassi territory. The civilians reversed this, but the dye had already been cast.

    Anyway, I said sometime ago, that one of the reasons Nigeria needed a robust navy to include submarines, was the long term design, outsiders had on the wealth in the gulf of guinea.

    Overlapping EEZs, increase the legitimate claimants to the resources therein.

    Not only france, but UK and the US fully supported cameroun case WHY ????

    Well, the more complicated the ownership of the wealth in the gulf of guinea is, the more avenues for mischief there is for foreign powers with designs on this wealth.

    Why does Washington have or need basing rights in sao tome ??? They said al Qaeda (LOL).
    How ridiculous. You see the deal was concluded even before piracy became an issue in west Africa.

    When a Nigerian leader is finally able to assert our natural dominance over the gulf of guinea, we would run into western interests that have been preparing for this eventuality for years.

    And they will deal with us Iraq style. Ask saddam what the west does to people that seize oil they already have designs on ?

    But don’t worry guys it will never get to this. Our leaders are so self defeating, the need to spank us into shape may never arise.

  25. freeegulf says:

    oga doziex, well done. our leaders do not understand, or even care about geopolitics, and like you said, we have self defeating leaders. the iraq case is a big lesson for students of strategic studies. of course, ours go to ibadan and bag Msc in strategic studies to no effect.
    western interest in the gulf of guinea has been growing steadily, we still have a narrow window of opportunity to assert our dominance. but this window is fast closing and we might just end up sinking with the ship.

    @oga obix, well done. i really don’t know why tom ikhime kept the case with the ICJ. after the occupation, cameroun took the case to the Hague. that was our shortfall. in fact, he should have thrown out the case why still foreign minister. but hey, its the past now. Nigeria will get bakassi back. however we have to do so before the gulf of guinea becomes an openly hot potato with alliance, clientele and neo colonialism firmly entrenched.

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