Senate summons Defence Minister over arrest of Nigerians in Cameroon

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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Minister of Defence, Brigadier–General Mansur Dan–Ali (rtd)

The Nigerian Senate has summoned the Minister of Defence, Brigadier–General Mansur Dan–Ali (rtd) to brief it on why the Cameroonian soldiers were able to enter Nigeria and arrest some nationals.

It also urged the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema to urgently liaise with his Cameroonian counterpart to secure the release of innocent Nigerians, urging them to increase military presence in the Nigeria-Cameroon border and also intensify patrol within the area to prevent further acts of trespass by the Cameroon soldiers into Nigeria.

The resolutions followed a motion on the, “Influx of refugees from the Republic of Cameroon to some border communities in Cross River State and its attendant security fallout” sponsored by Senator John Owan Enoh and two other Senators also from Cross River state.

According to the resolutions, the Senate also called on Nigeria and Cameroon to strengthen the capacity of Nigeria-Cameroon trans-border security committee aimed at addressing emerging trans-border security issues confronting the two countries and the need for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), to intensify ongoing efforts aimed at protecting the Cameroonian refugees and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement.

Senator Enoh, while leading debate on the motion, alleged that over 80 Cameroonian soldiers with various weapons crossed the international border of the Danare-Daddi/Danre-Bodom axis and abducted five natives.

He lamented that “this is a calculated assault/offence from the Cameroonian military on Nigeria and on outright defiance of Nigeria territorial sovereignty, not minding the consequences of crossing the international boundary to carry out intimidations and harassment on the already alarmed citizens of Danare, with warnings of further assault”.

The lawmaker also expressed worry that “the current situation being faced by both the refugees and host border communities if not tackled urgently may result in both an outbreak of epidemic and a serious humanitarian crisis and further escalate the already troubling security situation along these borders”.

Senator Enoh recalled that the UNHCR had on December 17, 2017 biometrically registered 10, 000 arrivals in remote areas of Nigeria’s Cross River State noting that thousands more are awaiting registration.

In his contribution, Senator Shehu Sani noted that invasion by Cameroonian gendarmes to Nigeria was caused by the tension, violence and conflict in the Southern Cameroon.

He, however, stressed the need for the federal government to act fast with a view to protecting the lives and property of Nigerians within the border towns, saying “Nigeria cannot pretend that there is no problem within our borders”.

Senator Sani, who expressed surprise at the audacity of the Cameroonian soldiers in trespassing to the Nigerian territory, called on the African Union, ECOWAS, and other relevant continental bodies to wade into the crisis in Southern Cameroon before it gets worse.

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