By Deng Eric
Cameroon Journal, Yaoundé – Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Communication Minister, cum gov’t Spokesperson has refuted claims that 97 Nigerian nationals, mostly fishermen were recently killed by Cameroon soldiers in the oil rich Bakassi area in Ndian, South West region.
In a press release issued Wednesday July 19, the gov’t Spokesperson said an operation launched last July 3 by the Idabato council to collect taxes and duties due in the area encountered blatant hostility perpetrated by Nigerian nationals on grounds that they are in Nigerian territory. “They also brutalized members of the tax collection committee deployed on the field and threatened to destroy various public and private buildings by way of protest. At the same time some of them with the support of Nigerian media have launched a campaign to accuse the Cameroon government of atrocities against them,” Tchiroma said.
According to the media, 97 Nigerians are reported to have lost their lives as a result of acts of brutality and hundreds of them expelled. Tchiroma said, however, that the Cameroonian government firmly refutes such ungrounded and unfounded allegations. “No coercive measures were taken against the Nigerians living in Idabato despite their violent reactions and their refusal to comply with public officials. No deaths or expulsions have been recorded.”
To the Communication Minister, this is a form of diversion by the media aimed at distorting the reality of facts and more generally, a deliberate and malicious attempt to misinform. About the tax collection and Nigerian
nationals resident in Bakassi, the minister said the tax exemption scheme they benefitted as part of the Green Tree Agreement expired on August 14, 2013. The government of Cameroon in a spirit of fraternity had nevertheless decided to extend this deadline by two years, the Minister said.
“As this period of grace is now over, Nigerian nationals who decided to stay in Bakassi are henceforth liable to pay duties and taxes as provided for by the laws in force. The government reaffirms that Cameroon is a land of peace, tolerance and hospitality and foreigners living therein peacefully shall always be welcomed.” The Minister also stated in his release that foreigners living in Cameroon are reminded that they ought to strictly comply by the regulations governing their stay or their economic activities in the national territory as nobody can be discharged from this imperative requirement.