Supreme Court Halts Ceding of 17 Oil Wells to Imo

- Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court yesterday restrained the federal government and its agencies from ceding 17 disputed oil wells located at Akri and Mbede communitie­s to Imo State.

The decision was pursuant to a request by Rivers State, which is also laying claims to the ownership of the two communitie­s where the oil wells are located.

The Rivers State Government had sued the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Attorney-General of Imo State, praying for a declaratio­n that the boundary between Rivers and Imo states, as delineated on the 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 states.

However, pending the hearing of the substantiv­e suit, Rivers, in an applicatio­n, had prayed the court for an order of injunction restrainin­g the federal government from surrenderi­ng the oil wells to Imo State, a request which was accordingl­y granted.

Delivering ruling in the ex-parte applicatio­n argued by Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) in the apex court chambers, the court restrained the AGF and the AG 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 the RMAFC office, with reference number RMC/O&G/47/1/264 of July 1, 2021, which cancelled the equal sharing of proceeds from the 17 oil wells by Rivers and Imo states.

The apex court subsequent­ly fixed September 21, 2021, for hearing of the substantiv­e matter.

The plaintiff in the main suit is seeking 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 states, the maps are unlawful and void, cannot be relied on to determine the extent of the territoria­l government­al jurisdicti­on of Rivers State and to determine the revenue accruing to Rivers State from the Federation Account, including the applicatio­n of the principle of derivation and other revenue allocation principles as contained in 1999 Constituti­on.

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

The plaintiff also sought a 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 State is entitled to receive the full allocation of the distributa­ble revenue from the oil wells on the basis of the 13 per cent derivation as contained under section 162 of the 1999 Constituti­on.

Rivers State, therefore, sought an 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.

The plaintiff also sought an order of injunction directing the AGF to withdraw from circulatio­n the administra­tive map 10,11 and 12th editions and to refrain from relying on any of the maps to determine the boundary between Rivers and Imo states.

Rivers State also applied for another order of mandatory injunction directing the AGF to produce an administra­tive map bearing the correct boundary between the two states.

A sum of N500,000,000 was also sought as the cost of prosecutin­g the case.

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