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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Cameroon border decision: What do you think?
The International Court of Justice has awarded the disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon, rejecting Nigeria's claims.

The court based its decision on a colonial document.

The two countries have clashed several times over the peninsula and Cameroon referred the dispute to The Hague in 1994.

The ruling cannot be appealed and both sides have agreed to respect the court's judgement.

But Nigerian troops in the peninsula have been on alert.

What do you think of the decision? How should Nigeria and Cameroon react to the ruling?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I am Cameroonian. My Congratulation goes to both head of state who have proven immense maturity and responsibility. My Congratulation goes to Kofi Anan who has anticipated any escalation of the conflict by encouraging a commitment of both Mr Paul Biya and Mr Obasanjo before the decision of the ICJ. Let this be a precedent in a new way of resolving conflicts in Africa. There is no loser!
E. Elong, Germany

Even though the verdict leaves a bitter taste in the mouth for we Nigerians, I commend the courage of our government in accepting the verdict in the spirit of pan-africanism and good neighbourliness.
Dr.George Ameh, Nigeria

Nigeria should not respect the ruling of the court.

Akbani Gabriel, Germany
Nigeria should not respect the ruling of the court. The only peaceful option is for both country to conduct a referendum in Bakassi and allow the people living there to determine where they want to belong to. The ICJ cannot just decide for the people anyhow.
Akanbi Gabriel, Germany

I think both Nigeria and Cameroon should result to dialogue over the matter. I think there should be an agreement between the two countries on how to Explore the oil and share the revenue together, for the sake of peace in the region. War should be the last case scenario
Felix Agbebiyi, UK

The ICJ rule on Bakasi is almost impracticable for many reasons.
1. It means Nigeria now owes her exit route of the eastern naval command to Cameroon.
2.The people living on this strip of land are Nigerians, having representatives at the house of assembly. The Bakasians have been Nigerian for generations. The ICJ has only ruled on a matter it is naive about by relying on a colonial document .
Adekunle, Spain / Nigeria.

If the issue here is the oil, then shame on Nigeria and Cameroon. The issue should be about the people of Bakassi and their cultural affinity. We accepted to go to the ICJ anyway, so why should we not accept the judgement? Like every other national issue, the Obasanjo Government played the ethnic card by giving the headship of the legal team of the case to a Lagos lawyer, instead of a renown competent international lawyers in Nigeria. What should we expect? Magic?
Dere, Nigeria/Canada

The Treaty by a few colonialists in the 19th century should not be used to decided a people's fate

Ray M, Japan
Can the People in Bakassi be allowed to decided where they really want to be? The Treaty by a few colonialists in the 19th century should not be used to decided a people's fate. As we are in the 21st Century we need to approach things with a more open mind. I will advise Nigeria not to go to war but seek other possible means of making the Bakassi people stay in their ancestral land. Also is it not possible to conduct a referendum? Then the people of Bakassi can decide for themselves.
Ray M, Japan

Since the ICJ has decided and Nigeria and Cameroon have agreed to abide by the decision, I suggest that the two countries come together and agree to join hands for the sake of the Bakassi people and work together to govern the people and together share whatever wealth they have in the area.
Ike, USA

I hope Nigerians will learn bitterly from this kangaroo decision so that when next they elect a president, they choose a man of resourceful intellect who will understand the colonial thoughts and agenda of France, Britain and their cohorts when it comes to African affairs.
Steve Chyke, Nigeria, USA

I am not impressed by any superficial ruling that looks like the re-enforcement of the colonial lines. I am not sure how different I am to a Nigerian, a Ghanaian, a Kenyan or South African. Nigeria alone has enough resources to maintain the whole continent, it supplies 15% of US oil same as Saudi Arabia, Nigerian gas is being traded in Wall Street, the soil in Uganda is so fertile it can feed the whole of Africa to say the least and yet we are the poorest continent. I am glad that even the ICJ's documents cited the fact that Africa was partitioned meaning we were one. There is no way you can make me pick up a gun to go fight another African just to secure some crude for the people who are responsible for the African nightmare.
Arthur, Cameroon

Hopefully, Cameroon will see enough reason to share sovereignty with Nigeria, since the people of Bakassi are naturally Nigerians. Hopefully also, they would use the resources in Bakassi to the benefit of the people.
Jide Akinola, USA

My sole concern is the political implication for people who have always known themselves as Nigerians. As for the oil, who cares? The proceeds would have been looted and stashed away with little impact for the average Nigerian. What have we done with the proceeds of the oil we've been pumping? I hope the Cameroonians make better use of the oil proceeds and put Nigeria to shame like Ghana is doing despite having no oil. Since Nigeria refuses to utilise its vast resources to light the torch for Africa and carry the smaller countries along, maybe it's poetic justice that these smaller countries be given a chance to do what big brother has failed and keeps failing to do.
Mr B, UK

World court - who are the people at the world court? Most are the agents of the colonial masters. I think Nigeria should say thank you for your verdict and then open up a dialogue with the Cameroon government to work out a partnership that will result in sharing the wealth of the area. We have a lot to lose in that area if we start a war. Those who will gain are the colonial masters, waiting to supply us their machines of destruction.
Joe. Ajilo, USA

The ICJ ruling is only a moral victory and non-binding. Nigeria should never cede the Bakassi peninsula. The peninsula is worth fighting for and it doesn't matter what the international community thinks about it. There are 120 million of us and only 11 million of them. It will be a quick war, and Nigeria would prevail.
Walter Onyebuchi, USA

Justice has taken its right course

Blaise K. Hofmann, Cameroon
I think the will of God has just prevailed and justice has taken its right course. We are all happy for what belonged to us has just been restored and we now beg our Nigerian brothers to bear with this.
Blaise K. Hofmann, Cameroon

Cameroon and Nigeria in particular should be congratulated for accepting the verdict of the ICJ. Maybe both heads of state are now qualified to enter the Nobel Peace Prize race for 2003.
Mart, Cameroon/ USA

As a Nigerian this is a painful decision for me. However as someone whom has studied war, I would prefer peace over war any time. I am hopeful that this will make Nigeria a stronger nation through choosing arbitration over war.
Olu Holloway, USA

I am totally against it

Philip, Nigeria
The ICJ decision will lead to further instability between Nigeria and Cameroon. I am totally against it. It hurts me as a Nigerian and it ridicules us as Africans. The "historical facts" as the ICJ called it, are based on illegality. Nevertheless I think Nigeria should enter into dialogue with a view to securing a deal that will be acceptable to both parties.
Philip, Nigeria

There are basically two possible outcomes: peace or war. Let for once think carefully about what we wish before making inflammatory remarks. We Africans are very poor and war will not make us richer.
Dr Tchamengo, Cameroon

As an international law academic I think it is essential that Nigerians who feel it was wrong of the Court to base its decisions on colonial treaties should know African States have long accepted the principle that the boundaries of African States are those which were inherited from the former colonial powers. This principle of stability of boundaries, which was first accepted by the OAU in 1964, was felt to be necessary to prevent post colonial Africa descending into interminable conflicts on where the boundaries lie. Both Cameroon and Nigeria must be congratulated for settling this long running dispute in a peaceful way and in a manner which accords with international law.
Dapo Akande, Nigerian in the UK & US

I sympathize with Nigerians who have families in the Bakassi Peninsula

Ayo, Canada
Both presidents have committed themselves to respect the ICJ ruling when both met in Paris. So let it be. However, I sympathize with Nigerians who have families in the Bakassi Peninsula, because this means that families would be divided. This development therefore, brings back the old long argument of how the colonial masters arbitrarily drew borders in Africa without any iota of respect for people. Nigerian should reign in her military. A war between Nigeria and Cameroon will be a regional catastrophe (God forbid).
Ayo, Canada

Is it proper that a French judge should head the panel of Judges that handled this case? Is it not possible that Gilbert Guillaume of France was biased in favour of Cameroon? Can this judgement be seen as having been delivered beyond every bit of reasonable doubt? ODU, Ifeanyichukwu Titus, Nigeria

I believe in upholding the rule of Law. Nigeria agreed to respect the decision of the ICJ. The decision has gone against us, and we should accept it with good grace. Let us hope that from now on we can enjoy better and more peaceful relations with our neighbours Cameroon. In any event, what have we done with all the revenue from the vast oil reserves within our borders? Not much anyway. Win some, lose some!!
Yagazie Nwaigwe, United Kingdon

This move ensures continuous supply of oil to the West

Sam Ojokawu, Nauru
It's not surprising that the ICJ has given the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon. After all this move ensures continuous supply of oil to the West by spreading oil ownership i.e. if anything should happen to Nigeria there will still be some oil from Cameroon, meaning the oil market would not be as hard hit as it would if everything was in hands of Nigeria. The true winners of this ruling are the neo-colonialists as represented by U.S. and its numerous oil companies.
Sam Ojokawu, Nauru

First point: it was a good decision to refer this dispute to ICJ and agree to be bound by its verdict. Second point: Will this decision bring peace between both countries? I don't think so. Bakassi is a small island and from history, disputes over small islands haven't been easily resolved. It time to overcome that with a joint ownership over Bakassi. That is if we all want peace.
Robert U, UK

I don't think it will be easy for Nigeria to give up Bakassi peninsula. The main source of the country's in-come. And Cameroon will never give it up again for the simple fact that the International Court of Justice has awarded them this disputed oil-rich area. So, in conclusion, this might led to a war between these two brother countries.

This is an insult to Africans.

John Nweke, Nigeria
It is very disturbing that after these years we as Africans are still subjected to humiliation and indignation of colonization and slavery. Why would the Court with all its wisdom base such important decision on what we consider unjust and illegal? This is an insult to Africans.
John Nweke, Nigeria

I am Cameroonian but it is no reason to rejoice because the common Cameroonian will in no way benefit from the new found wealth.
Joe Abey, Cameroonian in USA

Though German by nationality, I am Cameroonian by birth. There is great potential for trade and cooperation between Cameroon and Nigeria. If relations between the two countries are cordial, then each is going to benefit one way or the other from the prosperity of its neighbour. The eyes of the world and all black Africa, in particular, are watching Cameroon and Nigeria. These two countries have the unique opportunity of doing black Africa a great favour by doing what both presidents agreed upon during their meeting in Paris with the UN Secretary General.
Michael Epah, Germany

The dispute ruined a wonderful relationship

Eric Chu, USA
It was Cameroon's and it has been given back to her. The skirmishes could have been avoided if Nigeria respected international boundaries. What a waste of lives, energy and resources, which could have been used in constructive endeavours. The dispute ruined a wonderful relationship, which existed before the Bakassi affair. I hope they can stay in peace with this decision and talk to each other without suspicion.
Eric Chu, USA

I have been reading a lot about the treaty agreements and I am very surprised with the ruling. Cameroon did not have a case here. A treaty was signed in the 1800s, which gave the peninsula to Nigeria. So that treaty is the first and supersedes any other.
Jaz, USA

Since the decision of the court was based manly on colonial treaties, it does not hold. Land titles existed prior to this time. Obasanjo must not cede an inch of Nigerian land to legal victories based on colonial documents. If he does, he becomes a national traitor!
Femi Oyesanya , Nigeria

I hope other areas under dispute in that great continent learn a clue or two from this landmark decision.

Silla, Gambia / USA
Not only is this ruling right but it has also ended one of Africa's longest and protracted border arguments. Who wins is immaterial. Certainly, most wars in Africa have their roots in border and mineral rights. President Obasanjo and his government deserves commendation for their humility in respecting the verdict of the International Court of Justice. I hope other areas under dispute in that great continent learn a clue or two from this landmark decision.
OB Silla, Gambian in USA

I am impressed almost to the point of speechlessness. A border dispute settled by UN arbitration... and accepted by the side who has to give up the land?!?!? This is a triumph of diplomacy and statesmanship over bullying and politics.
Dan, Toronto, Canada

The decision is totally unfair - especially being based on some colonial document from time immemorial. I cannot but smell politics involved in this decision, which has come at a time when the western world is increasingly looking at west African oil as an alternative source of energy. Considering that Nigerian soldiers have died defending the peninsula, it is particularly insulting and all Nigerians should demand some form of major compensation from our Cameroonian brothers.
Obi-1, Nigeria/U.S

Cameroon and Nigeria should only ever battle on the football field.

Alex Davies, Australia
It is wonderful to a border dispute come to a resolution peacefully. Oil reserves should be shared. A peaceful Region is a profitable one for all those involved. Cameroon and Nigeria should only ever battle on the football field.
Alex Davies, Australia

The international court of Justice is an independent body with no interest in the dispute. Their ruling therefore must be accepted by both parties. If for nothing else but to save the lives of innocent people if they resort to the other option. In any case I hope Cameroon will succeed where Nigeria failed. That is to use the vast resources of that area for the benefit of their people.
Cillaty Daboh, USA/Sierra Leone.

Being a Nigerian, I feel downcast about the verdict. But I do take solace in the peaceful process, and the quick acceptance of the results. Let it be a precedence for conflict resolution in the troubled continent.
Ademola Oshodi, Canada

The two African nations acted maturely, thereby avoiding conflicts.

Chidi, Nigeria
The issue is not only about the ownership of the land, but that the two African nations acted maturely, thereby avoiding conflicts. The 2 nations should be hailed for taking the path they took. I equally hope that the ICJ and the United Nations will take time to delineate the borders between the 2 nations, not only based on that agreed by France and Britain, but through scientific means. To Cameroon, I say congratulations!
Chidi, Nigeria

I'm happy Nigeria has accepted the judgement in good faith. We don't want wars and conflicts in Africa anymore. What African needs most is good leaders, good governance and human development. Things like land, farm, oil, and mineral rights are not the critical factors for Africa's development.
Kelchi A. Uka, Nigeria

This verdict has shed some light on this issue but the main problem remains unsolved - and this is to take care of the people who stay in Bakassi. The Yaounde authorities would never have shown any interest if there was no oil in Bakassi. Bakassi like the rest of the Anglophone Cameroon has been neglected completely by the government in Yaounde. African rulers have this tendency to exploit the resources, put the monies in their pocket and let the mass starve, be it in Angola, Sudan, Nigeria, Congo etc. Until our rulers change their way of thinking, we will always have such conflicts and the international court of justice cannot help us, we have to help ourselves. .
Asaba Nkengfoa Mo'Forbeni, Germany

Basing the decision on a relic document from a colonial past was irrational.

Olu Pase, UK
Basing the decision on a relic document from a colonial past was irrational. The colonial powers divided Africa up amongst themselves with no attention to tribal or ethnic borders. This has caused bigger conflicts than the Bakassi issue within Africa as a whole. Nevertheless as a Nigerian I welcome the end of this particular conflict.
Olu Pase, United Kingdom

I suspected Cameroon was going to win the case simply because they were bold enough to refer it to a court to whose ruling there's no appeal. I believe my country will withdraw the troop and explore other oil-rich regions in the country.... we have enough anyway.
Olukunle, Nigeria

To say I am gutted with this decision is to say the least. I cannot imagine that the ICJ has effectively given credibility to colonialism and its legacy. When did the Brits and Germans become Africans? If Nigeria 'gives' away the Channel Islands to France today, will the ICJ recognise such 'accord' in 90 years time? When will Africa be finally decolonised? How come the ICJ didn't think of joint sovereignty as is being suggested regarding Gibraltar and even the Golan Heights? Where has common-sense gone? The answer is blowing in the wind..
Laolu L, UK

Key stories

Cameroon / Nigeria border ruling: Was it the right decision?



11050 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

10 Oct 02 | Africa
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