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A’Ibom asks S’Court to validate oil wells’ ownership

By  Ise-Oluwa Ige
The Government of Akwa Ibom State Wednesday invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for its clear-cut pronouncement on the littoral status of Cross River State to finally resolve who between them (A/Ibom and C/River) legitimately owns the 75 oil wells, now a subject of litigation before two courts of record.

Akwa Ibom is, specifically, inviting the apex court to hold that the disputed oil wells belonged to it in view of the Supreme Court’s findings entered in 2005 in a constitutional suit with registration number SC 124/199 filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation against 36 states of the Federation including Cross River  and Akwa Ibom states on the one hand and the 2002  judgment of the International Court of Justice ceding the whole of Bakassi Peninsula from Nigeria to Cameroun on the other.

Akwa Ibom state approached the court vide an originating summons filed by the Chambers of Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN).
In the originating summons before the court, Akwa Ibom formulated seven constitutional questions for the Supreme Court to determine in order to resolve once and for all whether Cross River, can, by any stretch of imagination lay claim to any of the 75 oil wells in dispute.

The constitutional questions include:

*Whether the 1st Defendant is qualified to be regarded and treated as a littoral State within the Federal Republic of Nigeria in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Suit No. SC 124/1999 – ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CROSS ‘RIVER STATE V. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION & 1 OR and the jUdgment of the International Court of Justice on the Nigeria/Cameroon International Boundary dispute by which the whole of Bakassi Peninsula (inclusive of Western Bakassi) was ceded to the Republic of Cameroon.

*Whether the Plaintiff and 1st Defendant currently have any maritime boundary in view of the judgment of the International Court of Justice which has been implemented by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and by which the whole Bakassi Peninsula was ceded to the Republic of Cameroon consequent to which the hitherto maritime boundary of the two States was obliterated.

*Whether the 1 st Defendant is entitled, by any stretch of imagination to benefit from the derivation fund due from oil wells off the shore of the Plaintiff’s coast line particularly the 75 offshore oil wells being claimed by the 1st Defendant.

*Whether the Plaintiff is entitled to refund from the 1st Defendant of the total sum of N31,366,848,814.67 (thirty one billion three hundred and sixty six million, eight hundred and forty eight thousand, eight hundred and fourteen Naira, sixty seven Kobo) wrongly/illegally/erroneously paid to theist Defendant instead of the Plaintiff by the 3rd Defendant from 2004 to 2009.

*Whether any set of people within the Federal Republic of Nigeria and their land can by boundary adjustment/delimitation be transferred/ceded from one State to another without their views first sought and their consent, through a larger majority of them obtained via a referendum/plebiscite before such transfer/ceding.

*If the answer to question 4 above is in the negative, whether the ceding of the Oku/Mbiabo/Ayadehe villages (24 in number) of Itu Local (3overnment Area of the Plaintiff to the 1st Defendant’s Odukpani Local Government Area and affirmed in the judgment of this Honourable Court above referred, when no such referendum was either called for or conducted was not in error and ought to be reversed by this Honourable Court as the apex Court of Nigeria.

*Whether or not the 2nd Defendant should revise the delimitation of the boundaries of the Plaintiff with the 1st Defendant so as to reflect the fact that the 1 ~t Defendant has no contiguity with the sea and, also reflect the Oku/Mbiabo/Ayadehe villages (24 in number) of Itu Local Government of the old Cross Rivers State and now Akwa Ibom State, but erroneously placed within Odukpani Local Government Area of the 1st Defendant.

Should the questions be determined in favour of Akwa Ibom, it is praying the apex court not only to validate its ownership of the 75 oil wells but to issue separate six declaratory and three injunctive reliefs in its favour.

The said reliefs include:

*A Declaration that the 1st Defendant ceased to be a littoral State with the. ceding of the whole Bakassi Peninsula by Nigeria to the Republic of Cameroon in accordance with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment on the Peninsula in the International Boundary Dispute between the Republic of Cameroon and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

*A Declaration that the Plaintiff and the 1st Defendant do not share any maritime boundary as the 1st Defendant no longer has any contiguity with the sea.

*A Declaration that the 1st Defendant is not entitled to benefit from derivation fund due from oil wells off the shore of the Plaintiff’s coastline particularly the 75 off shore oil wells being claimed by the 1st Defendant.

*An order compelling the 1st Defendant to refund the sum of N31, 366,848,814.67 wrongfully/erroneously/illegally paid to and received by him as derivation fund which sum was actually due to the Plaintiff.

*A Declaration that no set of people and their land within the Federal Republic of Nigeria can by boundary adjustment/delimitation be transferred/ceded from one State to another without their views first sought and their consent through a larger majority of them obtained via a referendum/plebiscite before such transfer/ceding.

*A Declaration that the transfer/ceding of Oku/Mbiabo/Ayadehe villages (24 in number) of Itu Local Government Area of the Plaintiff to Odukpani Local Government Area of the 15t Defendant and affirmed in the judgment of this Honourable Court in Suit No. SC 124/1999 – ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CROSS RIVER STATE V. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION & 1 OR was in error and ought to be reversed in that particular.

*A Declaration that the Oku/Mbiabo/Ayadehe villages (24 in number) are part and parcel of Itu Local Government Area of the Plaintiff.

*A mandatory order of injunction compelling the 2nd and 3rd Defendants to revise the delimitation of the Plaintiff and 1st Defendant’s shared boundary such as to place the Oku/Mbiabo/Ayadehe villages (which are 24 in number) in Itu Local Government Area of the Plaintiff.

*A mandatory order of injunction compelling the 2nd and 3rd Defendants to revise the delimitation of the boundaries of the Plaintiff and the 1 st Defendant so as to reflect the fact that the 15t Defendant has no contiguity with the sea.

In a supporting affidavit to the suit deposed to by Theophilus Okwute, the plaintiff claimed that “the Supreme Court had in its judgment delivered on 24/6/2005 in suit no. SC 124/199 held that the 1st defendant (Cross River state) no longer had a seaward boundary; and that there is no longer any estuarine boundary between the plaintiff (Akwa Ibom) and the 1st defendant”.

“That the 1st defendant (cross River) has no basis whatsoever to claim the 75 offshore oil wells and they cannot be attributed to the 1st defendant by the 2nd and 3rd defendants for any purpose because the oil well has always been attributed to the plaintiff prior to the distortion brought about by the revised delineation after the enactment of the Offshore/Onshore Dichotomy Abrogation Act 2004.

“That the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua only recently exhibited respect for and adherence to the Rule of Law by reverting to the right position as it was pre-2004 whereby the 75 oil wells referred to were attributed to the plaintiff and particularly for the purpose of derivation fund/revenue accruing to him from the Federation Account”.

Reliefs being sought by the plaintiff included;

No date has been fixed for hearing in the matter.


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