Supreme Court strikes out Bayelsa’s suit on Soku oilfield

THE GUARDIAN Newspaper- Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt Julius Osahon, Yenagoa

The Supreme Court has struck out Bayelsa State Government’s suit challenging the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, which ordered refund of the 13 per cent derivation the state had received from the disputed Soku oilfield.

A seven-man panel led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta said the Bayelsa government, by seeking the nullification of the FHC ruling in favour of Rivers State, when the Court of Appeal had not ruled on the matter, was abuse of court process and forum shopping.

Oil-rich Bayelsa had, through its Attorney General, sued the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Attorney General of Rivers State, after the FHC had ordered it to refund the 13 per cent derivation it received over the years from Soku oilfield to Rivers.

Hearing the suit yesterday, Ngwuta wondered why Bayelsa decided to file the suit at the apex court, whereas steps were being taken to challenge the judgment of the high court at the appellate court.

Observing that Bayelsa was jumping the gun, he asserted that there was no way the apex court could make pronouncement on a judgment that was given by a high court when the appellate court had not done so.

The Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction on a matter relating to a High Court, he explained. To this end, he directed Bayelsa to take its grievances to the Court of Appeal.

Based on this, counsel to Bayelsa government, Kemsauode Wodu, applied for a formal withdrawal of the suit, and the Supreme Court struck it out.

MEANWHILE, Movement for the Survival of the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) has called on the Federal Government to release the seized marginal oil field, which gave Bayelsa the right of an Oil Prospecting License (OPL) between 2003 and 2007, leading to the establishment of the Bayelsa Oil Company Limited.

MOSIEND made the call yesterday in Yenagoa during the inauguration of additional members of its National Executive Council (NEC) and its clan leadership.

The Ijaw group comprises persons of Ijaw extraction living in the Niger Delta states.

MOSIEND President, Kenneth Tonjo-West, berated the Federal Government for revoking the licence formerly given to the oil-rich homogeneous Ijaw state for no verifiable reason.

The group warned of terrible consequences should the Federal government, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries in charge of awarding OPLs, fail to return the field to the state within 30 days.


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