Cameroon expels Nigerians from Bakassi over tax wahala

Posted by News Express | 29 December 2014 | 3,405 times

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The Cameroonian military has begun cracking down on Nigerians in the Bakassi peninsula suspected of evading taxes.

Cameroon gained total control of the peninsula in August 2013, but most inhabitants in the oil-rich area are Nigerians

“We don’t understand Cameroon’s tax laws,” a provisions store owner, Stanley Obi, told the Hausa service of the Voice of America (VOA), adding that he has seen an array of people seeking payments.

“At times, you see the council come to collect theirs. After, the tax officers will come, police will come; we are just confused with the whole system,” Obi said.

Obi also said a curfew was imposed on the peninsula last week following disputes between businessmen and groups of tax collectors.

Fresh fish retailer, Na Eric, said that ever since Cameroon gained sovereignty over the peninsula, Nigerians in Bakassi have frequently been harassed by Cameroonian soldiers.

“It is a means of killing our businesses,” he said.

The governor of the southwest region in which Bokassi is located, Bernard Okalia Bilai, confirmed that his administration had imposed a night curfew in the area, saying the decision is to halt people coming from Nigeria’s Cross River State following a meeting held at which peninsula residents complained that others were disrespecting maritime borders, attacking the locals and refusing to pay taxes.

“Nigerians must understand that Bakassi is now a Cameroonian territory and whoever lives there must submit to all national rules and regulations, including paying taxes,” the governor said.

Immediately after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, tax collection in Bakassi was suspended, but as of mid-August 2013, residents had to start paying their share.

The governor accused Nigerians of disrespecting the ICJ ruling’s terms by refusing to pay taxes.

In 2002, the ICJ ruling had awarded control of the disputed Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, and Nigeria eventually decided not to appeal the ruling, sparking protests from many Bakassi residents and other Nigerians.

In 2008, the ICJ gave Nigeria five years to transition and cede control. As of August 2013, Nigerians – who constitute 90 percent of the peninsula’s population – had to obtain residence permits and be treated as foreign nationals.

Those who decided to become Cameroonians had to acquire national identity cards and respect Cameroon laws

The United Nations-backed Green Tree Agreement of 2006 set terms of the handover and one of the articles states that there shall be no indiscriminate collection of taxes within the Bakassi peninsula.

•Credit (except headline): LEADERSHIP.

Source: News Express

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