A Nigerian solder lowers the flag after the disputed peninsula was handed over to Cameroon
No less than 21 Camerounian soldiers were attacked and killed Monday by suspected pirates on the high sea off the Bakassi peninsula.
While news agencies quoted a source in the Camerounian military as identifying the gunmen as a “suspected militant group from Nigeria,” minister of foreign affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, yesterday absolved Nigerian soldiers from the incident.
A military source in Yaoundé has confirmed that 21 Camerounian soldiers were killed and that the attackers seized weapons, leaving other soldiers wounded.
Maduekwe, who spoke in Abuja, said, “Preliminary investigations showed that Nigerian soldiers have nothing to do with the said attack.”
He said, “It is too hasty to blame Nigeria for the attack. We are investigating and we would be happy for any information the Camerounian authority can give.”
Maduekwe said Nigeria was determined to maintain a close and cordial relation with Cameroun and would continue to respect agreements that led to the withdrawal of its troops from Bakassi in 2006 after a World Court judgment ceded the oil-rich peninsula to Cameroun.
Director of public relations in the Nigerian Army, Colonel Giwa Amu, who also reacted, said Nigerian troops had not stepped into the Bakassi region ever since they withdrew on August 24, 2006.
“We are investigating the incident and we will assist in arresting the perpetrators to bring them to justice.”
Gunmen who remain unidentified had on the same day attacked the Qua Iboe terminal jetty of Mobil Producing Nigeria, at Ibeno in Akwa Ibom State, which led to the death of a pregnant woman, Mrs Effiong Willie. She was apparently caught by a stray bullet.
Fishermen who witnessed the attack at Ibeno said the militants arrived the area in seven speed boats carrying about 50 pirates, attacked the security post at the jetty and engaged military security men in a gun battle.
The security men were said to have been overpowered and disposed of their boat and two machine guns.
Meanwhile, the displaced people of Bakassi are said to be living in fear since the clash occurred.
Shops and markets in the area have remained closed.