FG may probe N9bn Bakassi resettlement fund

There are indications that the Federal Government may soon probe an alleged release of N9bn for the resettlement of displaced indigenes of Bakassi in Cross River State between 2006 and 2015.

A Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, had in a statement last Thursday alleged that over N9bn was released by the Federal Government to successive administrations of ex-governors Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke for the resettlement of the displaced people.

This was sequel to the ceding of the oil rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun following the October 10, 2002 judgement of the International Court of Justice in Hague, Netherlands.

A former Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, had during a Channels Television programme tagged, “Sunrise,” decried the living condition of internally displaced persons and called for a permanent solution to the plight of the displaced persons.

Following the outcry by Ita-Giwa, it was learnt on Friday that the Federal Government would probe the recurring complaints of the displaced people to find out how the huge funds said to have been released for their resettlement were spent.

Already, a top player in Bakassi, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had been invited for questioning over the matter by the Presidency.

He said, “I have been invited to explain what I know about the matter which directly affects me as a key player. Our people are yet to get resettled despite the huge funds released over the years. I will honour the invitation.”

Although specific amounts released to successive state governments in Cross River State were not made public, it was alleged that monies were released in tranches to the administrations of former governors, Mr. Donald Duke and Senator Liyel Imoke respectively between 2006 and 2014 for the resettlement of the displaced persons.

The Presidency had also during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 constituted a committee on Displaced People of Bakassi that was headed by ex-deputy governor of Cross River State, Mr. Effiok Cobham.

But Ita-Giwa, who was a member of the committee, said the recommendations of the committee had yet to be implemented.

Speaking on the intended probe, Ita-Giwa said she was not aware if such money was released for the resettlement of the displaced persons.

“I do not know where the said N9bn was spent but I do not mind if they probe the money,” she said in telephone conversation.

However, Obono-Obla said he had documents to prove that funds were released to the state government for the resettlement of the displaced persons. .

He said, “Money was given in 2006 during the twilight of Duke’s administration and we would want to know how it was spent. A resettlement committee was again set up and money was released to build homes for the people, yet nothing was done.”