A lawmaker in the Cross River House of Assembly, Dr Ekpo Ekpo-Bassey, has called on the Federal Government to establish the Bakassi Rehabilitation Commission in a bid properly alleviate the plight of the Bakassi returnees.

Ekpo-Bassey, who represents Bakassi State Constituency, told reporters in Calabar on Sunday that the commission should be set up to provide the needed infrastructure, employment and development of the area since the ceding of the oil rich area to Cameroon in 2002.

Ekpo-Bassey, a former Council Chairman of Bakassi, said due to the loss of the territory, the federal government ought to have provided social amenities in the area to cushion the effect of the loss of the oil rich area.

He said that the ceding of the oil rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon came as a result of the judgment that was entered against Nigeria over the sovereignty of the peninsula by the International Court of Justice sitting at the Hague in 2002.

The lawmaker explained that it was as a result of the natural resources in the Bakassi area, which included oil, gas and other mineral resources that earned Cross River as one of the oil producing states in Nigeria.

He lamented that Cross River had lost her right of oil producing state as a result of the ceding of the area to Cameroon, adding that the Federal Government ought not to have de-listed Cross River from oil producing states.

“The federal government need to set up the Bakassi Rehabilitation Commission at the national level to take care of the challenges of the people of Bakassi as a result of the loss of that oil rich territory.

“Apart from that, they must be compensation as a result of the loss of oil revenue to the state in lieu of the oil wells. When this is not done, then the issue of Bakassi cannot be said to have been properly addressed.

“They must be something tangible which the state government or Bakassi local government area can use to impact positively on the economic lives of the people.

“We need to practically address this issue by ensuring that something tangible and financially is provided for the state and the local government to meet up the economic challenges the people are facing as a result of having ceded the territory which was not of their own making.

“Aside the oil that was ceded, the people in that area also lost their occupational right like farming and fishing. These people have been deprived of their livelihood and I think that the government is supposed to create employment for them,’’ he said.

The lawmaker further called on the Federal Government to provide empowerment programmes and skills acquisitions training for the Bakassi returnees to give them a sense of belonging and equipping them with employable skills.

He said though Federal and State governments had built some housing units for the returnees to cater for their shelter, more still needed to be done in the area of social amenities, employment and empowerment.

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