Hundreds of Nigerians residing in Atabong, Bakassi Peninsula are fleeing their homes as Cameroon is said to have deployed warplanes and warships to sack Biafra Separatist groups operating in the area.
Between October 30 and November 3, there have been clashes between the separatist groups and the Cameroonian Forces in the peninsula causing serious security issues in the Gulf of Guinea as some foreign vessels and oil companies cannot operate freely.
Sources close to the separatist groups told Pillar Today that the Cameroonian Forces carried out aerial bombardment in the early hours of November 2 in Akpankanya village aimed at flushing out Biafra rebel group, the Dragon Fighter Marine and the Black Marine that have been terrorising the area for quite sometime now insisting that it (Bakassi Peninsula) belongs to Biafra.
The sources said, “Cameroons Elite Military Unit, the Rapid d’intervention Battalions (BIR) on Friday November 3, have reinforced in Atabong East high sea with warships to sack the pro Biafra separatists from Atabong. Already there has been exchange of fire between the BIR and the Biafran separatists”
Atabong is an international route in the Atlantic ocean for business activities and the pro Biafra separatists seemed to have held the town after the Biafra Nations League (BnL) banned international trade and movement of oil vessels in Bakassi Peninsula few months ago.
Residents of Atabong are said to be fleeing to the Nigerian side of Ikang and Akpabuyo following reinforcement of troops and deployment of warships by Cameroon.
However Pillar Today gathered that the Dragon Fighter Marine and the Black Marine are still jointly operating in Atabong despite the attack by Cameroon but “might likely experience heavy push back in few hours to come”.
Unconfirmed sources further said that the residents fleeing from Atabong have been blocked by Nigerian troops of Operations Still Water as the fleeing Nigerians may have been stopped temporary from entering Ikang probably as measures to fish out the Biafra Separatists or their supporters.
One of the residents of Atabong who simply gave his name as Effiong in a chat with Pillar Today said, “I think the Biafra leadership should issue a statement on what is going on now in Bakassi Peninsula. Since morning, we were not allowed to cross to Ikang and Akpankanya by the Operation Still Waters.
“As I am talking to you now, many people are stranded. They are chasing people that fled from Atabong because of the air strike yesterday and this morning we woke up and saw Cameroon warships everywhere. Honestly we do not know the next plan of the Cameroonian Forces”.
Commenting on this latest development, the Leader of the BnL, Princewill Chimezie Richards said, “my statement is that the reinforcement (by Cameroon) will only worsen the situation, they have to know that our people are not afraid to die”.
Pillar Today gathered that between September 11and November 3, 2023 not less than 10 attacks or clashes have been reported in the Bakassi Peninsula controlled by the Cameroon and about 30 persons mostly of the Cameroonian Forces have been killed.
Recall that in mind October, the 13 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Calabar had launched ‘Exercise Still Waters 3′ at Ikang in Bakassi Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River state in South South Nigeria apparently to checkmate criminal activities.
Flagging-off the ceremony, the Commander, 13 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Brigadier Gen. E.I. Okoro said that the exercise was part of Nigerian Army’s schedule of activities for the nation in the year 2023 as the exercise would help the Army bring down the incidence of kidnapping, sea piracy, and other forms of criminality taking place along the state’s maritime.