The community lamented that despite paying an agreed tax of N27,500, four Nigerians, who had complied with the new rate, were arrested and detained by the Cameroon Divisional Office in the Idabatu axis of Southern Cameroon.
In a letter of appeal routed through the National Coordinator of Bakassi Returnees and Displaced Nigerian Citizens in Ikang, which was made available to The Punch, the community lamented that the detained Nigerians were being kept in the Idabato sub-division cell by the Cameroon Divisional Officer, Major Etunko.
The letter, which was sent to the Ministry of External Affairs in Abuja, was signed by two fishermen, Okon Etim and Augustine Edet, and a woman leader and former youth president of the community, Mrs Ikow Bassey and Imoh Ukpa respectively.
They lamented that despite being made to pay over N600, 000 as tax, four Nigerians namely Bassey Utong, Ndong Ekpenyong, Asukwo Atteh and Joseph Isang had yet to be released.
In the letter titled ‘Report of malicious arrest of four Nigerians in Bakassi peninsula, appeal for urgent intervention’, the community said it received information that the four detainees were on August 14 transferred to an unknown place.
It read in part, “We feel much humble to forward this report to your office on the above subject matter which occurred since August 2, 2017 where four Nigerians were arrested and detained in Idabato sub-division cell Bakassi by Cameroon Divisional Officer, Deputy Major Etunko on the grounds that they were the people that organised a peaceful protest as well as fed the Nigerian government with the news of N100,000 tax levy in July 2017.
“We want to state here that after the bilateral meeting, the Southern Divisional Officer in Buah visited Bakassi in July and reduced the tax levy to N27,500 as against N100,000, which they asked us to pay before. Since then, all forms of protests stopped and the Nigerians in Bakassi started paying the new tax levy including the four Nigerians now detained.
“We have adopted all manner of peaceful approach to get the four Nigerians released by the Cameroonian Divisional Officer in Idabatu, having fulfilled all the conditions stipulated by him but he refused to release them.”
When contacted, the Cameroon Consul in Nigeria, Foe Mitchell Atangana, said, “I am aware of the development because I was informed by the office of the United Nations on Friday. I have sent someone to investigate and I have an appointment over the matter on Monday. I will have detailed information on it after the meeting.”