October 4, 2012 / 1:08 PM / 5 years ago

Nigeria president to revisit Cameroon Bakassi dispute

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday ordered a review of an international ruling that handed the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to its neighbor Cameroon a decade ago.

His decision came a week after Nigeria’s Senate called on him to appeal the 2002 ruling made by the International Court of Justice that Bakassi belonged to Cameroon. The appeal period expires in a few days, the statement from the presidency said.

Nigeria finally gave up Bakassi in 2008, after years of political disputes, legal skirmishes and violence that killed dozens of people.

“The president has set up a committee to look at the option of reviewing the ruling,” the statement said, adding that this had been concluded after talks with Vice President Namidi Sambo and Senate President David Mark.

Nigeria has dozens of committees, which often to do not lead to significant action.

Senators had argued that the judgment was unfairly based on an agreement between the British and local chiefs in 1881, and it should therefore be subjected to a referendum monitored by the United Nations.

The two African countries, which nearly went to war over Bakassi on several occasions, seemed to have put the issue behind them of late, and had even agreed to work together to explore for oil in the region.

Around 90 percent of the population of the peninsula, estimated at 200,000 to 300,000, regard themselves as Nigerian fishermen and their families who do not want to be Cameroonians.

A movement called the Bakassi Self-Determination Front in August declared independence from Cameroon, hoisting a flag and setting up an FM radio station. It is not clear how big the movement is or what it is capable of.

Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alison Williams

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