Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is over the moon following the Supreme Court’s verdict on the subsisted boundary conflict between Rivers and Imo states.
However in Imo, it is heartache. The apex court, yesterday, gave the ownership rights of the oil wells in Ndoni and Egbema communities to Rivers, ending the political arrangement on the sharing of revenue from the facilities.
Hailing the judgment in Port Harcourt, Wike discussed that the state was in court with neighbouring Imo, not to claim triumph, but to safeguard its ownership rights of oil wells in Akri and Mbede neighborhoods.
The guv said: “It bears repeating that the mission to defend our ownership rights through the courts over the Akiri and Mbede oil wells was not planned to declare triumph over Imo or any other state.
” We also deplore the collusive actions of the National Limit Commission (NBC), which, regrettably, has worked more in triggering confusion than resolving border disagreements.”
According to Wike, while the conflict lingered, NBC not did anything in demarcating the limits to develop the appropriate place and title to the challenged oil wells.
He included that, rather of ensuring that NBC did its work, previous Guv Emeka Ihedioha of Imo rejected the 50: 50 sharing formula and claimed exclusive ownership of the oil wells.
” To actualise the spurious claims, he (Ihedioha) stealthily composed a letter dated August 9, 2019 to President Muhammadu Buhari and requested the refund of N15 billion from Rivers to Imo as backlog of proceeds from the 13 percent derivation profits of the oil wells.
” Acting on Ihedioha’s letter, the President required a letter to be composed to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allowance and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) through the late Chief of State, Mr. Abba Kyari, to alter the status quo in favour of Imo without referral to the subsisting disagreement and contract between the 2 states.”
Wike stated Rivers was surprised by that action, due to the fact that since 1999, Peter Odili and Achike Udenwa, previous guvs of Rivers and Imo respectively, had consented to 50: 50 sharing of derivative proceeds from those wells.
His words: “Appropriately, we first applied to the Federal High Court, Abuja, and, among other reliefs, successfully challenged the powers and authority of the President to direct the RMAFC and or interfere in any way whatsoever with the circulation of public profits from the distributable pool account, consisting of the Federation Account.
” In approaching the Supreme Court in this matter, we believed that the disagreement in between the two state and the controversial issues are such that the court can judicially, justly and expeditiously determine with the available realities and supporting proof, consisting of legitimate administrative maps, subsisting judgment and other relevant files.”
The Rivers governor revealed delight in the apex court’s verdict, hoping that Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo would accept the outcome in good faith, while checking out ways to accommodate any possible compromise from Rivers.
” This, we might readily oblige, regardless of Ihedioha’s action, who, in spite of the extensive assistance and goodwill he got from the federal government and people of Rivers to become guv, led the attack and developed a wedge between 2 brotherly states.”
Wike thanked the attorneys, who prosecuted the case and revealed the conferment of Distinguished Service Stars of Rivers State on each of them.
Speaking likewise, the Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Banigo, said, “Rivers individuals more than happy for yet another triumph Wike has protected for the state” by legally safeguarding its oil assets.
Rivers Assembly Speaker, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, kept in mind that an excellent leader like Wike makes history from which useful lessons can be discovered like safeguarding Rivers’ interests and extending hands of fellowship to Imo.
On his part, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Celebration (PDP) Elders’ Forum, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, described Wike as a beneficial instrument God has actually used to take Rivers to greater height of success.
The Supreme Court, yesterday, in Abuja dealt with the ownership dispute of 17 oil abundant wells in favour of Rivers. In the judgment prepared by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju but delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court dismissed the counter-claim ownership put forward by Imo government.
The oil wells located in the areas of Rivers and Imo had been a subject of lawsuits at the apex court, which worked as a court of first instance with seven Justices in the panel.
According to Agim, the Court approved Reliefs 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 sought by Rivers, but declined refused to grant Reliefs 2, 7 and10 Among the reliefs given by the court in favour of Rivers are that the limit in between Rivers and Imo as marked in the 10 th 11 th, 12 th editions of the Administrative Map of Nigeria and other maps bearing similar delineation are incorrect, inaccurate and do not represent the genuine borders between Rivers and Imo.
The court agreed with Rivers that the right instruments, map and files to be relied upon in identifying the boundary between Rivers and Imo were those used by Rivers in delineating the boundary line in between the two states, including Decree 14 of 1967, Decree 12 of 1976, the White Papers/Conclusion of the Federal Military federal government on the Irikefe and the Nasir Boundary Commission/Boundary Change Commission, the Eastern Nigeria Map, the Map of Owerri, Warri Province, Onitsha and Rivers provinces, as well as the Ahoada District Map and Aboh Division Map.
Justice Ogunwumiju, nevertheless, declined to grant the N500 million expense requested by Rivers, among other reliefs.
The Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Chief Goodluck Opiah, could not be reached as at press time. The National Planner of Save Imo, Ebubeagu Ekenulo, revealed misgivings after receiving the info.
His words: “Bad news for Imo State! Supreme Court ceded our oil wells to Rivers in her judgment. I am personally hurt. To lose 17 oil wells is not a tea party. Imo lost huge time!”
Governor Hope Uzodimma was in Ebonyi State on Thursday to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari, who was on a state check out.