News and Views
Cameroonian Soldiers Chase Nigerians Out Of Bakassi
The Cameroonian military has begun cracking down on Nigerians in the Bakassi peninsula suspected of evading taxes.
Cameroon gained total control of the peninsula in August 2013, but most inhabitants in the oil-rich area are Nigerians
“We don’t understand Cameroon’s tax laws,” a provisions store owner, Stanley Obi, told the Hausa service of the Voice of America (VOA), adding that he has seen an array of people seeking payments.
“At times, you see the council come to collect theirs. After, the tax officers will come, police will come; we are just confused with the whole system,” Obi said.
Obi also said a curfew was imposed on the peninsula last week following disputes between businessmen and groups of tax collectors.
Fresh fish retailer, Na Eric, said that ever since Cameroon gained sovereignty over the peninsula, Nigerians in Bakassi have frequently been harassed by Cameroonian soldiers.
“It is a means of killing our businesses,” he said.
The governor of the southwest region in which Bokassi is located, Bernard Okalia Bilai, confirmed that his administration had imposed a night curfew in the area, saying the decision is to halt people coming from Nigeria’s Cross River State following a meeting held at which peninsula residents complained that others were disrespecting maritime borders, attacking the locals and refusing to pay taxes.
“Nigerians must understand that Bakassi is now a Cameroonian territory and whoever lives there must submit to all national rules and regulations, including paying taxes,” the governor said.
Immediately after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, tax collection in Bakassi was suspended, but as of mid-August 2013, residents had to start paying their share.
The governor accused Nigerians of disrespecting the ICJ ruling’s terms by refusing to pay taxes.
In 2002, the ICJ ruling had awarded control of the disputed Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, and Nigeria eventually decided not to appeal the ruling, sparking protests from many Bakassi residents. And other Nigerians.
In 2008, the ICJ gave Nigeria five years to transition and cede control. As of August 2013, Nigerians – who constitute 90 percent of the peninsula’s population – had to obtain residence permits and be treated as foreign nationals.
Those who decided to become Cameroonians had to acquire national identity cards and respect Cameroon laws
The United Nations-backed Green Tree Agreement of 2006 set terms of the handover and one of the articles states that there shall be no indiscriminate collection of taxes within the Bakassi peninsula.
Cameroonian embassy keeps mum
Meanwhile, efforts by LEADERSHIP to get the Cameroon Embassy in Abuja to comment on the issue were fruitless as officials of the Commission failed to reply to the e-mail sent to the Commission’s official e-mail address, email@example.com.
Boko Haram slaughters 30 in Cameroon village
Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have reportedly killed over 30 Cameroonian villagers, a security official disclosed yesterday.
A regional governor, Mijiyawa Bakary, told the local by phone that the estimated 30 people killed were civilians.
“We do not yet have all the facts, but our divisional officers and security officials are filling us in,” Bakary said.
The attack took place at Mbaljuel village in northern Cameroon, just a few kilometres from Cameroon’s border with Nigeria, L’Oeil du Sahel newspaper said.
The insurgents also carried out a similar attack along the Waza-Mora highway on Friday, killing one Cameroonian soldier.
A soldier serving near the border who did not want to be named said the dead soldier was a corporal, adding that three soldiers also were wounded in the attack.
The attackers also confiscated a vehicle belonging to the Cameroon military.
Meanwhile, the Cameroon military says it killed 53 Boko Haram militants at Soueram about 17 kilometres from Fotokol, another border village in northern Cameroon.
The militants died when Cameroon’s air force battalion bombarded a Boko Haram camp at that location. The report could not be independently verified.
Soldiers also launched rockets across the border at the Boko Haram stronghold of Banki in Nigeria on Friday.
The violence comes about a week after the Cameroonian army destroyed an Islamic school believed to have served as a training ground for Boko Haram.
An army officer had disclosed that Boko Haram was recruiting children aged between 5 and 12 years and teaching them radical Islam at the school.
Cameroon has positioned soldiers and special military units to the far North this year to stop Boko Haram from infiltrating into Cameroon from Nigeria.