Bakassi IDPs  Plead With FG, UN To Save Them From Soldiers’ Harrasment

By our reporter 

Internally Displaced Persons in Bakassi IDPs are crying  for help, accusing the Nigerian soldiers drafted to Ikang Community for ‘Operation Still Water’ of harassing, and intimidating them.

The  IDPs  who are predominantly fishermen, protested the ill treatment meted on them by the Nigerian soldiers

through a peaceful protest which started  from  Ikot Effiom Obutong re-settlement camp and ended at Ikang Bakassi fishing port.

The protesters came out in their numbers and  expressed  their  frustration and grievances  over what they described as intimidation and harrassment by the soldiers.

Allegations levelled against the  soldiers   in Bakassi includes, flogging of fishermen for being in possession of Petroleum Product which the IDPs claimed it is  used to power thier fishing boats.

 Narrating thier ordeal, the General Secretary,  internally displaced persons IDPs  Bakassi  re-settlement camp, Mr. Linus Asuquo Essien who spoke on behalf of the protesters stated that the returnees are going through economic hardship  as a result of not being allowed by soldiers to buy petrol for thier fishing boats.

“Our  children can no longer go to school. On daily basis our community residents who are  predominantly  fishermen have at regular intervals been arrested and locked up in the Cameroon republic prisons.

“Unfortunately non of our leaders in the house of parliament or in high  place of authority had bothered to wade into the matter.

“We now go through  hunger and starvation in  the IDP camp  due to our constant stay at home. Our major occupation is fishing, unfortunately,we have been barred by the soldiers from going to fish.

“We have over hundred fishermen who had been  arrested by the cameroon gendarmes and locked up in  their  prisons  just because they were engaged in fishing.

“This is why we  are calling on the  federal government, United Nations  to come to our aide before we perish here. Cameroonians said we are strangers, In Nigeria our soldiers accused us of engaging in bunkering. Where do we go from here. He queried.

Also Speaking, Secretary General, Ikang Clan Council, Chief Essien Eyo, wondered why a Community which has 12 out of the 14 villages making up the community reside basically in the riverine area would be barred from carrying on  thier fishing activities.

He maintained that things are so bad that several fishing boats belonging to the fishermen had been burnt down to ashes.

Other allegations levelled against the military personnel in Ikang includes extortion, uneccesary intimidation and harrassment  of internally displaced persons who were predominantly fishermen.

The IDPs  who came out in hundreds  with placards, with different inscriptions boldly written, “enough is enough” we are now slaves in our own land, soldiers have inflicted us with poverty.

The IDPs called on the federal government, international Communities, to look into the inhuman treatment meted on  them before things go out of hands.

“In the last 10 months we haven’t seen electricity. Yet we pay taxes. In the Cameroon,we are not allowed to fish. In our own country where our oil wells were ceded to the neighboring Cameroon we are like slaves.

“We have no food to eat,our kids have dropped out from school. Our boats are parked because we lacked Petrol to power our boats for fishing.

“They accused us of engaging in oil bunkering, even when there are no pipelines in Bakassi. The NNPC water fuel station that used to sell Petroleum Product to us now lies fallow because we are not allowed to buy petrol for fishing.” He alledged.

When contacted,  the army public relations Officer PRO Capt. Dorcas Aluko stated that she was attending a course outside the state and can not comment on the issue at the moment.

However military sources in Calabar denied the allegations saying that fishermen were using thier fishing boats to smuggle petroleum product to neighboring Cameroon republic.

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