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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 15:31 GMT
Nigeria to hand land to Cameroon
Nigeria will hand over as planned 33 border villages in the north-east of the country near Lake Chad to Cameroon.

Nigeria was ordered to give up areas along its border with Cameroon by the International Court of Justice in October last year.

But President Olusegun Obasanjo refused to comply with the judgement and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan brought the two countries together to find a way of resolving the dispute.

The court's ruling also gave areas of the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsular to Cameroon, and its status still has to be settled by the bilateral talks that are now under way in Abuja.

The Bakassi Peninsula is in itself a swampy strip of land with little value, but its ownership has implications for fishing and oil rights offshore.

Nigeria had already indicated that it intended to leave the villages near Lake Chad by the end of the year.

Commitment

Justice Minister Akin Olujinmi told the meeting that Nigeria did not wish to be dragged into a "meaningless and avoidable conflict with any of its neighbours".

Bakassi fishing village
The Bakassi issue has still to be settled
"I want to assure you, we shall continue to abide by our commitment to respect the judgement of the ICJ," he said.

The BBC's Haruna Bahago said that he was told by Nigerian officials that the whole exercise would last three weeks.

He said that Nigerians living in the villages are unlikely to be happy - but they will be given the option of leaving if they wish.


SEE ALSO:
Nigeria stalls on Bakassi
07 Aug 03  |  Africa
UN mediates in Bakassi dispute
15 Nov 02  |  Africa
Country profile: Cameroon
05 Mar 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Cameroon
04 Mar 03  |  Country profiles


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