Nigeria takes pre-emptive measure against Cameroon

Jul 28, 2002 02:00 AM

Even as the World Court at The Hague is yet to conclude the case on the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over Bakassi Peninsula, the Federal Government is not taking chances over the possibility that the Cameroonian authorities might attempt to take the oil rich territory by force. The fear that the Cameroonian authorities may have something up their sleeves was fuelled by recent deployment of infantry gendarmes, armoured vehicles and mobilisation of the air force around the country's border areas close to the Peninsula.
Presidency sources claimed that Nigeria's military were being reinforced partly in response to the presumed Cameroonian threat. The military has halted, temporarily, soldiers deployment for peace-keeping operations in several African countries to enable the nation have as many men as possible on ground in case of any surprise act of aggression by Cameroon.

For instance, deployment of peace keeping contingents to Congo, Sierra Leone and a few Central African trouble spotsare reportedly being put on hold. The decision to this effect was said to have been taken at a recent security meeting convened by the Commander-in-Chief, President Olusegun Obasanjo to appraise the Bakassi problem and attended by the service chiefs, the chief of defence staff and representatives of other security agencies.
"This is a purely pre-emptive measure. It was thought that we cannot afford to concentrate our resources on putting other people's houses in order while our own rooftop is on fire", a source said.

The source also linked the recent ban by government of civil aircraft from the Nigerian Air force Base, Port Harcourt with government's concern for aircraft and passengers safety in the event of crisis, the type any aggression by Cameroon on the Bakassi issue is capable of precipitating.
He said: "The airline operators argument is that they have been paying necessary monies to the aviation authorities and that there has never been any mishap since they started using the base. But they have forgotten that that base is a security base, that the Air force doesn't need their money to operate the base and that it was only a temporary arrangement in the first place".

Military analysts believe government action was in the right direction especially when it is considered that the Cameroonian Minister of Defence recently boasted that Cameroon had all it takes to deal with Nigeria and retake the Bakassi peninsula.
The Minister noted that there was nothing special about the Nigerian military and that Cameroonian gendarmes were equally trained in the most modern art of combat and warfare. "Moreover, we will be more motivated knowing full well that the peninsula belongs to us and we were being deprived of our territorial land mass", he said.

Only a few weeks ago, the Nigerian Army which has been in the doldrums owing to its misadventure into politics resulting in the grounding of most of its equipment, staged a come back as evidenced by its command display of some of its reactivated weaponry at the Army Day celebrations in Enugu.
The confident display of the Artillery, the Infantry and the Armoured Corps of the Army through a reactivated and reinvigorated weaponry, sent a clear message to Nigeria's adversaries that the Army was ready to bite if need be. Additionally, the airpower display of the Nigeria Air force whose capability in modern warfare has been proven also reassured teeming Nigerians that the joint operations doctrine would be carried out by the Nigerian military against its neighbours to the letter if need be.

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