The need to protect Nigerian citizens and Cameroonian refugees in border towns of Cross River State attracted the attention of the Senate on Wednesday.
The red chamber among other resolutions urged the Nigerian military authority to increase security presence and intensify border patrol within the area to prevent further acts of trespass by the Cameroon soldiers.
The sponsor of the motion, John Enoh, Cross River-APC, noted that the current agitation for the independence of Southern Cameroon has caused influx of refugees to some border communities in Cross River State with over six thousand of the refugees currently ‘squatting’ at Obanliku, Boki, Etung and Ikom Local Government Areas of the state.
He said, “The senate is worried about the precarious situation of women and children, which make up about 80 per cent of the approximately 10,000 registered refugees and of these persons are boys and girls who fled to Nigeria unaccompanied and separated children from their parents and are therefore vulnerable.
“The senate is informed that on January 25, 2018 more than 80 Cameroonian soldiers with various weapons crossed the international border of the Danare-Daddi / Danare-Bodom axis and abducted five natives.
“The senate observes that this is a calculated assault/offence from the Cameroonian military on Nigeria and an outright defiance of Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty, not minding the consequences of crossing the International boundary to carry out intimidation and harassment on the already alarmed citizens of Danare, with warnings of further assault;
“The senate is worried that the current situation being faced by both the refugees and host border communities if not tackled urgently may result in both an outbreak of epidemic and a serious humanitarian crisis and further escalate the already troubling security situation along these boarders.”
The lawmakers accordingly called on the Minister of Foreign affairs to urgently liaise with his Cameroonian counterpart to secure the release of ”these innocent Nigerians.”
It urged Nigeria and Cameroon to strengthen the capacity of Nigeria-Cameroon trans-border security committee aimed at addressing emerging trans-border security issues confronting the two countries.
The senators also urged all relevant agencies of government saddled with the responsibility of managing emergencies such as National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, to intensify their remedial efforts of providing relief materials to the refugees.