How I once engaged Bola Ajibola on Bakassi – Segun Showunmi

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A governorship aspirant in Ogun State, Segun Showunmi, has recalled how he once engaged the late Judge of the International Court of Justice, Bola Ajibola, on why he supported the cession of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon.

Bakassi is a peninsula on the Gulf of Guinea, lying between the city of Calabar in Cross River State and the Rio del Ray estuary in Cameron.

Nigeria and Cameroon had for years engaged in a legal battle over the rightful owner of Bakassi.

At the world court, the Peninsula was transferred to Cameroon on October 2002.

Bola Ajibola was one of the 17 judges who presided over the matter at the World Court, and he also led the delegation of Nigeria to the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission set up by the United Nations to look into the matter.

On August 14, 2008, the territory was completely ceded to Cameroon after President Olusegun Obasanjo signed the Green Tree Agreement produced by the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission.

While paying tributes to Ajibola, Showunmi said he drilled him on why he consented that the territory be handed over to Cameroon.

Aside from this, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain said he also queried the late jurist on why Egbaland of Ogun lost Bakatari to Ibadan in Oyo State.

“I remember having him in The Lion’s Den, a no holds barred interview session I had with him, he was honest and straight talking. I asked him about Bakassi and why we should lose our land; I challenged him that he did not go far enough, especially as I thought he failed to bring up the exchange between Germany and France that gave room for that part of the partitioning. I asked him why our Egbaland should lose Bakatari to Ibadan,” Showunmi recalled.

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According to him, the octogenarian told him that everything done was based on fairness, the rule of law and the need to establish peaceful coexistence among Nigerians and their neighbours.

Showunmi described the interview as “a mutually respecting encounter,” saying he and Ajibola kept the respect till age prevented him from more engaging conversations.

In his condolence message, Showunmi noted that the late Nigerian leader had been out of public view as a result of the infirmity of old age, saying it was not surprising that Ajibola’s earthly sojourn finally ended on Sunday.

While ruminating on whether to mourn his loss or be thankful to God for an impactful life of service with numerous achievements, he said both should be done for a man he called “a world-class jurist, a devoted and knowledgeable Moslem man of faith, a promoter of education cum morals with his Islamic-influenced university, a man of deep tradition of Owu royalty, an administrator and respected international arbiter.”

Showunmi stated further that Nigeria and the world had lost an affable elder.

He said: “One of our iroko has fallen, Omo Oba, Omo Olowu, Omo Amolese bi alari, Omo Asukun Gbade, Omo Afi Isu fo Igba Epo. Sun re o. Fair thee well Bola Ajibola.”

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