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By Nicholas Kalu, Calabar
Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has called for the return of the 76 oil wells the state lost to Akwa Ibom State courtesy of Supreme Court judgement.
Ayade said the loss of Bakassi, the ceding of the oil wells and the non-reimbursement of what the state had spent on federal roads, were instances of unfair treatment of the state.
Some youths took to the streets of Calabar, the state capital, to protest the loss of the oil wells as a result of the ceding of Bakassi Peninsular to Cameroon
Speaking during the visit of the Commander of the Joint Military Taskforce, Operation Delta Safe (ODS), Rear Admiral Akinjide Akinrinade, the governor said the ceding of the oil-rich peninsula was illegal and therefore, the loss of oil wells was an act of gross injustice.
He said: “Even the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement that emphasized clearly that Cross River must continue to enjoy stabilisation support in perpetuity for the loss of oil well has since been stopped. We are tired and so we want our oil wells back,” he said.
The governor also complained that the Federal Government had refused to admit members of a militant group, the Bakassi Strike Force into its amnesty programme after the state government prevailed on them to surrender their arms to the military.
Prof Ayade said: “It was even at the instance of your own (military) request that we came to the ultimate conclusion that we needed to grant amnesty. Sadly, shortly after the disarmament and demobilisation exercise, the burden therefrom rests wholly on the shoulders of Cross River State.
“Now as you are moving into the rehabilitation and reintegration phase, here we are being called upon yet again to provide the financial support for it to be achieved.
“Let me send you a message to the National Security Adviser and indeed to Mr. President, to tell him that the people of Cross River State are watching with keen interest how other people who were granted amnesty in other states are responsibilities of Federal Government and how our own people have been allowed to gradually regress to where to left to embrace peace.
“Not even one person from the entire list has been taken by the Federal Government for any form of amnesty programme nor has a dime been paid to any of them. What has Cross River done wrong in this country?
“Please send this message to Mr. President that we want to know what Cross River has done wrong, particularly now that you have noticed that some camps are coming back to live again after the disarmament and demobilisation.
“Ordinary amnesty, Cross Riverians cannot benefit from it. Have oils well become everything? If it is oil wells, we have also issued a report showing oil deposits in Cross River both inland and offshore. How can a state that has a very extensive maritime boundary be told that it is not a littoral state?
“How can you grant amnesty to other states and give them international opportunities and exposures, bring them back, engage them and pay them monthly yet you exclude Cross Riverians? What have we really done wrong?
“You take our oil wells, take our land, we are not even in NDDC and ordinary amnesty you cannot provide for Cross River? We have been on our knees begging that we have found oil, can you give us discretional license to partner with a third party to do exploration and pay loyalties to government. Until now we have not gotten any response.”
The governor also expressed unhappiness that the state is yet to be reimbursed for interventions on federal roads even when other states have been reimbursed.
Ayade said: “Cross River has come under so much abuse recently. Must they kill us because we are peaceful? If there is anything Cross River has done to the Federal Government, let the Federal Government forgive Cross River because these things have been there even before I assumed duty as governor.”
Source; The Nation Newspaper