. Verdict forecloses political settlement
Supreme Court, on Friday, ruled in favour of
Rivers State in the dispute between it and Imo State over 17 oil wells.
The court apex court’s verdict also foreclosed the political arrangement between both states on the sharing of revenue from the disputed oil wells.
In its judgement, the court ruled that Rivers State is the rightful owner of the oil wells located in Ndoni and Egbema communities.
Recall that in February this year after listening to the counsels to the two states,the Supreme Court had fixed May 6 for judgment in the dispute between Rivers and Imo states over the ownership of 17 oil wells.
Leading a panel of the Supreme Court justices, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, had fixed May 6 for ruling after the adoption of the final written addresses by the counsels to the two states.
Counsel to the plaintiff, the Rivers State Government, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN), had during the adoption of his final address, urged the apex court to rule in favour of Rivers State, arguing that historical evidence dating back to 1927 had continued to clearly prove that the 17 oil wells belong to his client.
Daudu, who is a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), referred the Supreme Court justices to the boundary adjustment paper of 1976, which confirmed that Ndoni and Egbema belong to Rivers State.
The Rivers State counsel opposed the Attorney-General of the Federation’s claim that adjudication in the suit ought not to have originated from the Supreme Court but a Federal High Court to allow for oral evidence to be taken from the people of the area.
He argued that the apex court had original jurisdiction and was in a position to conveniently use all available sufficient historical documents right from the colonial era to ascertain which of the two states truly owns the 17 oil wells.
But counsel to the Imo State Government, Mr Olusola Oke (SAN), in his own arguments, urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the suit because it didn’t originate from the Federal High Court.
According to Oke, due to the the nature of the matter, oral evidence ought to be taken from the indigenes of the two communities to confirm which of the two states they actually belong to.
He argued that Rivers State shouldn’t have instituted the suit from the Supreme Court, urging the justices to dismiss the matter.
Arguing along the same line with Oke, counsel to the AGF, Dr Remi Olatubora (SAN), stated that Rivers State didn’t adopt proper procedure for such a suit.
Olatubora argued that for the apex court to make appreciable and acceptable findings on the matter, witnesses, including officials of the National Boundary Commission, the Surveyor-General of the Federation and indigenes of the disputed areas ought to be heard.