Wednesday 31 October 2012
300,000bpd oil controversy: Rivers, Bayelsa govs at war •Leave our oil wells - Rivers •Stop blackmailing the president - Bayelsa •30 traditional rulers protest •Cross River may get reprieve on loss of oil well •Jonathan wades into Anambra, Kogi, Enugu oil
THE festering controversy between the Bayelsa and Rivers state governments over the ownership of some oil bearing communities which produces 300,000 barrels of crude oil daily in Kalabari deepened on Wednesday as the governors of the warring states, Mr Seriake Dickson and Rotimi Amaechi respectively laid claims to the oil wells.
The development came against the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court verdict, which affirmed that the disputed oil wells, which had been in existence, even before the creation of Bayelsa State out of the old Rivers State, actually belong to Bayelsa.
Apparently resting his submission on the pronouncement of the apex court, the Bayelsa State governor, Dickson said there was no need for his Rivers State counterpart to dissipate energy on a matter that had been laid to rest by the Supreme Court judgment, confirming that the Kalabari oil wells belong to Bayelsa State.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Markson-Iworiso in a press statement on Wednesday, the Bayelsa State governor said: “We have made our stand sufficiently clear on this matter. And our stand is duly backed by law. The law, as we know it, deals with facts and concrete evidence.
“On the issue of ownership and the claim by the Rivers State government to Soku Oil wells, I believe it is no longer news that the Rivers State government took Bayelsa State to the Federal High Court on this same issue and lost. Instead of appealing the matter in the Appeal Court, the Rivers State government invoked the constitutional provision and filed a suit in the Supreme Court in 2011 and this year, the Supreme Court upheld Bayelsa State’s position,” Dickson contended.
He emphasised that: “I do not think we should dissipate energy over what has already been established as incontrovertible fact. Besides, we live in a country governed by laws and there are recognised institutions where people can go to seek redress, when they are in doubt. We should not belabour the issue any further, submitting that, “as far as this issue is concerned, I believe the fact speaks for itself.”
But, Amaechi, the governor of Rivers State, insisted that he would not spare any effort to fight the battle, with a view to retaining the ownership of the controversial Soku oil wells, urging the people of the state to stand by him in winning the seeming war looming between Bayelsa and Rivers states.
The governor, who spoke while receiving protesting Kalabari chiefs, women and youths, who stormed the Government House in Port Harcourt to register their grievances over the matter, stated that, “We will not allow the attempt by the Bayelsa State government to collect our oil wells. I have read what the Bayelsa State governor said that the 11th edition of the (administrative) map of Nigeria gave them the oil wells. When? They didn’t talk about the first edition to the 10th edition, they chose to avoid that and went to the 11th edition.”
According to Amaechi, “It won’t work, it will certainly not work, no matter how they try to intimidate the agencies of the Federal Government, we will continue to go to court and let our people know that the agencies of the government are being intimidated, that is what we are saying.
“All we want is for Rivers people to stand by us; Soku community has been in Rivers State long before the creation of Bayelsa. Elem-Sangana is not a ward in Bayelsa, but they said they want a territory, they want derivation, how can that work? Does oil come from the air? We must struggle to get our oil wells back,” the governor contended.
“We condemn the deliberate and mischevious attempt to link the president with what is clearly an exercise of Bayelsa State government’s right. The government of Rivers State itself has made several such claims of wrongful payments of derivation monies and has severally received refund in deserving cases.”
“We take serious exception to the antics of the Rivers State government in its attempt to always blackmail President Jonathan in a bid to gain unnecessary advantage.
“The facts remain that all the relevant maps of Nigeria produced in 1992 (10th edition) and the 11th edition produced in 2000 were clearly produced long before Jonathan became the vice-president and later president,” Governor Dickson said.
While Amaechi was accusing the presidency of complicity in the raging controversy, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), on Wednesday, said the allegation that the commission moved five oil communities from Rivers to Bayelsa was misleading.
Clarifying the position of RMAFC on the matter, in Abuja, during a press conference, the chairman of the commission, Mr Elias Mbam, said “it is worth mentioning that the commission does not act in isolation without reference to other relevant agencies at all level of governments.”
He added that the commission relied on data from relevant government agencies, including the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the National Boundary Commission and the office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation.
Jonathan wades into Anambra, Kogi, Enugu oil well dispute
President Jonathan has waded into the growing hostilities between Anambra, Kogi and Enugu states over the actual location of oil wells which, at the moments, fall within the territory of Anambra.
Concerned by the development, the president, on Wednesday, summoned Governors Peter Obi (Anambra);Idris Wada (Kogi) and Sullivan Chime (Enugu), to the Villa, just as he charged the National Boundary Commission to expedite action aimed at finding amicable solution to the controversy.
When asked by State House correspondents, Governor Wada said “the intervention is to get the boundary commission to do its work, so that our people in those areas do not get too agitated and take laws into their hands.”
Meanwhile, following the judgment which led to the loss of 76 oil wells by Cross River State recently, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, on Wednesday, presided over a meeting with Cross River State governor, Mr Liyel Imoke; his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Godswill Akpabio; RMAFC and the National Boundary Commission, where the judgment and matters arising from it were examined.
The RMAFC boss told the meeting that the commission had been meeting to find ways to advise government on the need to provide succour to Cross River State, due to the financial discomfort it suffered by the judgment.