By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa— Bayelsa State Government, yesterday, described as misleading, claims that it was planning to annex five oil rich communities in Kalabari Kingdom in Rivers State and called on the latter to tender an unreserved apology to her and President Goodluck Jonathan over the unguarded, and mischievous statements, aimed at disparaging the Presidency and inciting violence between the sister states.
This came as the Presidency, also last night, dissociated President Goodluck Jonathan from the border dispute between both states.
Kalabari National Forum had, Monday, protested alleged surreptitious moves by some federal government officials to excise 5 oil producing Kalabari communities of Rivers States and give them to Bayelsa State for political reasons.
Bayelsa dismisses claims
But the Bayelsa State Government, in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, dismissed the alleged move to forcefully annex any territory or people into Bayelsa, saying that Ijaw strategic interest demanded that Ijaws wherever they were, should be supported and strengthened and not forced into Bayelsa State.
It described the purported claim as an attempt by detractors of the Ijaw nation to create unnecessary strife and hostility within the Ijaw ethnic family to Ijaw nation’s collective disadvantage.
The statement which was issued last night in Yenagoa, read: “The attention of Bayelsa State Government has been drawn to media reports credited to chiefs and elders of some Ijaw clans of Kalabari extraction in Rivers State, alleging attempts by some persons to forcefully annex communities and ancestral lands as well as oil facilities and installations in Kalabariland to Bayelsa State for the purpose of claiming derivation entitlements.
No such move
”The government of Bayelsa State wishes to react as follows: Firstly, we assure our Ijaw kith and kin in the Kalabari clan of Rivers State that there is no such move to forcefully annex any territory or people into Bayelsa State. We further wish to state that the Ijaw strategic interest demands that Ijaws wherever they are should be supported and strengthened and not to be forced into Bayelsa State.
“That the purported claim is an attempt by detractors of the Ijaw nation to create unnecessary strife and hostility within the Ijaw ethnic family to our collective disadvantage.
Presidency dissociates Jonathan from imbroglio
Meanwhile, the Presidency has dissociated President Goodluck Jonathan from the imbroglio, saying attempt to involve him smacked of irresponsibility.
The Presidency said in a statement: “Our attention has been drawn to a publication in some newspapers today about a protest staged by the Kalabari National Forum and some monarchs in Abuja, in which the so-called protesters accused President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of interfering in a boundary dispute between Rivers and Bayelsa states.
“The protesters alleged directly and through innuendoes, that there are plans to ‘cede five Rivers State oil communities to Bayelsa with the connivance of various Federal Government agencies under the watchful eyes and supervision of his Excellency, Mr. President whose home state, most ingloriously, is the direct beneficiary.’
“We consider these allegations irresponsible and most unfortunate considering the status of the persons who reportedly championed the protest. The statutory agencies being referred to by the protesters do not take orders from the President; they are independent bodies. Besides, there are laid down procedures for resolving inter-state boundary disputes.
“In this particular case, the dispute between Rivers and Bayelsa states predates the Jonathan administration, and has been a matter for consideration by the National Boundary Commission, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and other relevant agencies, long before now.”