The Supreme Court yesterday resolved the issue of the state entitled to the revenues from 17 oil wells in Akri and Mbede communities in favour of Rivers State.
Both Rivers and Imo states have been engaged in legal battles over the ownership of the 17 oil wells located in boundary communities between the two states.
The National Boundary Commission had in the Nigeria Administrative Map, 10th, 11th, 12th, and other maps delineated the two communities in which the 17 oil wells are located in Imo State.
But, Rivers State, citing decree No. 14 of 1967, Decree No. 12 of 1976, the White papers/conclusion of the Federal Military Government on the Irikefe and the Nasir Boundary Commission/Boundary Adjustment Commission, amongst others, claimed ownership of the disputed communities and urged the court to declare same.
Delivering judgment in the suit that had the Attorney General of the Federation and Imo State as 1st and 2nd defendants respectively, the apex court held that from the evidence before it, the affected oil wells fell in the area belonging to Rivers.
In the summary judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, which was prepared by Justice Helen Ogunwunmiju, the Supreme Court held that “the plaintiff’s case succeed in part” and went ahead to declare that “it is only Rivers State that is entitled to receive the full allocation of the distributable revenue derived from the oil wells on the basis of the 13% derivation principle as provided for under Section 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, among others.”
The court based its decision on the fact that the boundary between Rivers and Imo states, as delineated in Nigeria Administrative Map 10th, 11th, 12th, editions and other maps bearing similar delineation was inaccurate, incorrect, and did not represent the legitimate and lawful boundaries between Rivers and Imo states.
The apex court had earlier declared that the correct instruments, map and documents to be relied upon in determining the boundary between Rivers and Imo states were those used by Rivers State in delineating the boundary line between the two states, including Decree No. 14 of 1967, Decree No. 12 of 1976, the White papers/conclusion of the Federal Military Government on the Irikefe and the Nasir Boundary Commission/Boundary Adjustment Commission, the Eastern Nigeria Map, the Provincial Map of Owerri Province, Warri Province, Onitsha Province, Rivers Province, the Ahoada District Map and Aboh Division Map.
The apex Court also declared that based on the correct instruments, maps and documents for determining the boundary between Rivers and Imo states, the following Rivers State communities wrongly attributed to Imo State, among other communities, are communities within the territorial boundaries of Rivers State and therefore communities in respect of which Rivers State was entitled to exercise governmental and administrative powers, including entitlement to benefits derivable from mineral or other resources within the communities.
Other reliefs sought by Rivers State, which were granted by the unanimous judgment include: “A declaration that all the oil wells within Akri and Mbede communities, usually identified with the names Akri and Mbede, including the oil wells identified on Rivers State Map showing the location of oil wells wrongly attributed to Imo State, including Akri 012, Akri 009, Akri 010, Akri 004, Akri West 002, Akri 001, Akri West 001, Akri 003, Akri 002, and Akri South 001, Mbede 017, Mbede 010, Mbede 019, Mbede 018, Mbede 002, Mbede 009, and Mbede 005 are all oil wells within the territory of Rivers State and form part of Rivers State and that it is only Rivers State that is entitled to receive the full allocation of the distributable revenue derived from the oil wells on the basis of the 13% derivation principle as provided for under Section 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, among others.
“A declaration that the Plaintiffs’ Map No. 2020/0303 — LD of 22/12/2020 showing the boundary line between the Plaintiff and the 2nd Defendant represents the correct boundary between the Plaintiff and the 2nd Defendant.
“An Order of Injunction directing the 1st Defendant to withdraw from circulation its Administrative Map 10th Edition, 11th Edition and 12th Edition and to refrain from relying on any of the said Maps for the purpose of determining the boundary between the Plaintiff and the 2nd defendant.”
The apex court, however, refused to make an order of Mandatory Injunction directing the AGF “to calculate, to the satisfaction of the Plaintiff, and refund to the Plaintiff all revenue that have been wrongly denied the Plaintiff and wrongly attributed to or paid to Imo State on account of the limit or extent of their territories, including earnings due to the Plaintiff from distributable, revenue derived from the Akri and Mbede oil wells.”
The court also refused to order the defendant to pay the Plaintiff the sum of N500 million as costs for the prosecution of the Plaintiff’s suit.
Culled from THISDAY