Saturday, 29 October 2016

Bakassi IDPs allege extortion by Cameroon gendarmes

Some Bakassi internally displaced persons in Cross River State have alleged massive arrests and extortions of their kinsmen by Cameroonian gendarmes.

They alleged that at least 40 persons were arrested in one week by the gendarmes along the Nigerian waterways and taken to a camp in Abana, which had been ceded to Cameroon, from where they were compelled to pay a minimum of N25, 000 (about FCFA 47000) to secure their release.
National Coordinator of Bakassi Returnees, Mr. Aston Inyang, who disclosed this to Saturday PUNCH on Friday, said those caught were arrested while fishing along the waterways.

He alleged that two unidentified fishermen were brutalised, murdered and thrown into the water by the gendarmes for trying to resist arrest.

Inyang said, “We are being haunted by the Cameroonian gendarmes. They are stopping us from fishing along our own waterways. They are taking our fishermen to their detention camp in Abana. They arrest an average of 10 persons every day. This arrest started a month ago.

“When they get to the camp, they brutalise them and extort money from them. Each person is asked to pay a minimum of N25, 000 before he is released. They normally ask them to get in touch with their relations to bring the money. They recently brutalised and killed two fishermen who resisted arrest. This is becoming a serious worry for us.”

When contacted, Army Public Relations Officer in charge of 13 Brigade, Calabar, Capt. Kayode Owolabi, said he was not aware of the development.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Bakassi returnees have remained unsettled since 2009 in different unhygienic camps around Bakassi and Akpabuyo local government areas of Cross River State.

Inyang alleged that the Cross River State Government was playing politics with the proper resettlement of the displaced persons.

He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to personally look into the plight of the displaced persons and come up with workable resettlement plan.

“We are appealing to the Federal Government to intervene and handle the situation of the displaced Bakassi returnees. They should not leave it with the state government as over the years, we have noticed that the state had been playing politics with the resettlement plan and that is frustrating,” Inyang alleged.

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