17 Oil wellS Ownership Tussle:Supreme Court fixes Nov.1 To Hear Suit on Rivers, Imo

The Supreme Court in Abuja has shifted the legal battle by Rivers and Imo states on ownership of 17 rich oil wells in their territories to November 1, 2021 for definite hearing.

Justice Kudirat Kekere – Ekun set the stage for determination of the suit instituted by Rivers State against its Imo state counterpart shortly after identifying some of the processes filed for and against the legal action.

The apex court had on Wednesday July 14 granted an order of injunction stoping the federal government and it’s agencies from ceeding the 17 disputed oil wells located at Akri and Mbede to Imo state.

In a chamber ruling by the Supreme Court in an ex-parte application argued by Emmanuel Ukala, the apex court had restrained the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and the Attorney General of Imo state from taking any further action on the ownership of the disputed 17 oil wells till the ownership disputes surrounding them are resolved.

The apex court also barred the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and the Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation from approving, implementing, or giving effect in any manner to a letter from RMAFC office, which canceled the equal sharing of proceeds from the 17 oil wells by Rivers and Imo states.

However , when the case came up onTuesday Imo state through its lawyer, Olusola Oke informed the court that he had filed a motion on notice challenging the jurisdiction of the apex court to hear the suit as a court of first instance.

counsel for the AGF, Remi Olatubura said he had filed a counter affidavit against the writ of summons from Rivers State.

Justice Kekere Ekun who led a panel of 7 Justices of the court in a ruling ordered parties in the suit to file and exchange their respective processes between now and November 1 when the suit would be heard.

Rivers state through its Attorney General had dragged the AGF and the Attorney General of Imo state before the Supreme Court asking for declaration that the boundary between Rivers state and Imo state, as delineated on Nigeria administrative map , 10, 11 and 12 editions and other maps bearing similar delineations are inaccurate, incorrect and do not represent the legitimate and lawful boundaries between Rivers and Imo State.

The Plaintiff also sought a declaration that as far as Nigeria’s administrative map 10,11 and 12 editions and other maps bearing similar delineations, relate to the boundaries between Rivers and Imo, the said maps are unlawful and void, and cannot be relied on to determine the extent of the territorial governmental jurisdiction of Rivers state and to determine the the revenue accuring to Rivers state from the federation account, including the application of the principle of derivation and other revenue allocation principles as contained in the 1999 Constitution.

It further applied that the Supreme Court declare that the correct instrument maps and documents, to be relied on determining the boundary between Rivers and Imo state, are those used by the plaintiff in delineating the boundary line between Rivers and Imo state.

Plaintiff also sought declaration that all the oil wells within Akri and Mbede communities are wrongly attributed to Imo state and that they are all oil wells within the territory of Rivers state and form part of Rivers state and that it is only rivers that is entitled to receive the full allocation of the distributable revenue from the oil wells on the basis of the 1390 derivation as contained under section 162 of the 1999 constitution.

Rivers therefore sought order of mandatory injunction directing the AGF to calculate, to its satisfaction, and refund to it all revenue that have been wrongly attributed to or paid to Imo state on account of the limit or extent of their territories, including earnings due to it from revenue derived from Akri and Mbede oil wells