Over 1000 Bakassi indigenes have been allegedly evicted from Cameroon to Nigeria following a new tax regime reportedly introduced by the Cameroonian authorities. The victims, who reside in Abana, headquarters of the former Bakassi Local Government Area that was ceded to Cameroon, are said to have started arriving Ikang in Cross River State and Mbo in Akwa Ibom State.
They are alleging that the authorities introduced a new tax regime of an equivalent of N55, 000 per annum for every adult. One of the returnees, Mr. Ben Ita, who spoke with newsmen shortly on arrival at Ikang in Bakassi LGA of Cross River State, said the bulk of the returnees could not afford to pay the tax.
“They imposed a new levy in form of tax, an equivalent of N55, 000 per every adult. They had started implementing this new tax regime for some time now, but they gave a deadline of today (July 6) that those who cannot comply should leave the country. “We have no option than to start leaving. There are well over 1, 000 Bakassi indigenes that are resident in Abana. They said that those who are not ready to comply should leave.
“This move has affected 98 per cent of Nigerians there because we do not have that kind of money to pay”, he lamented. The son of the Clan Head of Effiat in Mbo LGA Akwa Ibom State, Capt. Confidence Ukpoh, a merchant navy, said hundreds of his kinsmen were on their way back to Nigeria via the waterways.
He said, “My relations are on their way back because they said that the tax imposed on them was too high and they have decided to come back since they gave them deadline. “The majority of those who are leaving are from Mbo area. We are expecting them back because they have started their movement back to Nigeria. I am seriously unhappy with this development.
“Our people there are mainly into fishing and it is sad the way they have been treated. This was not the agreement Nigeria had with Cameroon over the ceding of that area. Our people have been manhandled.” Paramount ruler of Bakassi, Etim Okon-Edet, lamented that the Nigerian government had long abandoned the indigenes of Bakassi who have become refugees in their various villages in Cameroon.
“Nigeria has completely failed to protect her people. They are not even looking at the green tree agreement anymore. “If they were really implementing the green tree agreement, this will not happen. The way the Bakassi matter is going, it is only God that will direct us,” he said. When contacted, the Vice-Consul of Cameroon Consulate in Nigeria, Mr. Godlove Tala, said no directive was given by any Cameroonian authority over the eviction of Bakassi indigenes on tax grounds.
Tala said, “We got in touch with the authorities in that area and they said that they never asked anyone to leave. This is preliminary information. Even this tax regime thing, it does not apply to Bakassi indigenes alone, it applies to all residents of Cameroon. “I do not think there is a peculiar regime that applies to Abana residents. We have over seven million traders from south-eastern Nigeria who are doing business in Cameroon and nobody has driven them away. If the paramount ruler has confirmed this to you, we will see what is going on”, he stated.
Culled from Daily Post