Supreme Court awards 86 oil wells to Rivers State

THE PUNCH Newspaper-Friday Olokor

ABUJA - After two yeas of legal tango, the Supreme Court yesterday ordered the Akwa Ibom State Government to transfer to Rivers State 86 disputed oil wells with accruing revenues beginning from April, 2009.

In unanimous judgement in Abuja, seven justices of the apex court with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Katsina-Alu presiding, held that Akwa Ibom was bound by an agreement it signed with the Rivers State Government.

Consequently, Akwa Ibom will refund about N350 billion to Rivers State.
The apex court held that in a bid to settle a rift between the two states, the Obasanjo administration convinced ex-Governors of the states, Obong Victor Attah and Peter Odili, to sign an agreement which it said conferred ownership of the disputed oil wells on Rivers State.

The deal went awry when Attah’s successor-in-office, Governor Godswill Akpabio, vehemently kicked against the political arrangement in 2007, insisting that the National Boundary Commission must return the ceded oil wells to Akwa Ibom state, because they are within its region.

Following Akpabio’s contention, Governor Rotimi Amechi approached the Federal High Court to challenge the move, but lost. He later proceeded to the apex court where his efforts finally yielded fruits yesterday.

Justice Aloysius Katisna-Alu, maintained that Akwa Ibom was bound by the Obasanjo arrangement since its former governor was a signatory to the 31st October, 2006 agreement, where the 86 oil wells were yielded to Rivers state.

The CJN said: “It is not in dispute that this agreement was reduced into writing and dated 31st October 2006. It is exhibit AMBI. It is indeed embodied in the letter written by the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

“It can be seen clearly from this letter that the parties have voluntarily jettisoned Technical and Historical Solutions. This is so because these Solutions were considered at the meeting before opting for the Political Solution.

The parties faithfully implemented the terms of the agreement till the tail end of 2007 when Akwa Ibom unilaterally sought to rescind the agreement and commended its agitation for the application of the Historical Solution.

He further held that “The plaintiff, Rivers, is the owner of the 86 oil wells by virtue of the Political Solution agreement between the plaintiff and the 1st defendant, Akwa Ibom, the terms of which are contained in exhibit AMBI and therefore entitled to be paid revenue derivable therefrom under the provisions of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution from April, 2009 till date and subsequently.

“The defendants are hereby directed by themselves and/or their appropriate agencies to forthwith compute and calculate all such sums of money accruing from 86 oil wells belonging to the plaintiff by virtue of the subsisting and biding political solution agreement which sums has since been unlawfully paid to the 1st defendant, Akwa Ibom, with effect from April, 2009 till date of this judgment and payment of all such sums to the plaintiff by the 1st defendant forthwith.

Amaechi hails judgement
In a swift reaction, Governor Amaechi Of Rivers State said: “I want to thank God, and please join me to praise God. For nearly two years,

I’ve been fasting and fasting, praying God to disgrace Akwa Ibom State. And today, God disgraced Akwa Ibom State. I told the Governor Of Akwa Ibom State (Godswill Akpabio), ‘do not take the oil wells that belong to Rivers State And Rivers people.’ I told him I will kneel down and call on the God that made me Governor of Rivers State to give me and Rivers people back the oil wells. But he went ahead and took the oil wells that belong to Rivers State and Rivers people.

And I went back to God, the same God I went to when I wanted to be Governor. And I said ‘God, if you are God, show that you are the God of justice, that you are a fair and a just God.’ And today, God has vindicated me; the Supreme Court handed over all the oil wells taken from us by Akwa Ibom State. I thank God for everything; it is good to worship God. I give God all the glory.”

He spoke at the Daily Independent ‘man of the year’ Award ceremony invested on him in Lagos.
Attah sold out Akwa Ibom oil wells

In its reaction Akwa Ibom State has blamed the administration of former Governor Victor Attah for signing off the fortune of the people of the state when he had the opportunity to fight for their right.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after the Supreme Court judgment, the state commissioner for Information and Re-orientation, Mr Aniekan Umanah, said “the political solution which the Supreme Court hinged its judgment was entered into by the government of Obong Attah and that was because he wanted to be in the good books of the government at that time.. It was a decision that sold the future and fortune of the people of the state to its neighboring states because of the ambition of one man. Now the people of the state are the ones suffering because of the selfish desire of one man.

We have it on good authority that former Governor Attah accepted the political solution offer because he wanted to please the power that be, and as proof that he was not supporting the presidential ambition of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who was angling to succeed former President Olusegun Obsanjo in 2007.

It was a selfish way of finding solution to the an issue that would have a direct effect on the lives and development of the people of the state, without any consideration.”

“It was because of Attah’s alleged sponsorship of the presidential bid of Alhaji Atiku that the power that be then, decided to move against him by allocating most of the oil wells that belonged to AkwaIbom State To Rivers as a way of cutting down his revenue, which he allegedly used in
sponsoring Atiku’s presidential ambition,” he said.

According to him” the current administration will not be a party to any move by anybody to deny the people of AkwaIbom State their rights and entitlements. we are currently studying the judgment and at the appropriate time, the position of government would be made public. ... Read more at Nigeria Independent

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