Boundary dispute: Supreme court stops FG from ceding 17 oil wells to Imo

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The supreme court has issued an order restraining the federal government and its agencies from ceding 17 oil wells to Imo state.

The oil wells are located in Akri and Mgbede communities, where the Rivers and Imo state governments are disputing boundaries.

Ruling on an ex parte application, the apex court on Wednesday granted an order of injunction restraining the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and the Imo state attorney-general from taking any further action on the ownership of the disputed oil wells.

The court also barred the federal government from approving, implementing or giving effect in any manner to a letter from Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and the Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), 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.

Rivers state, through its attorney-general, had dragged the AGF and the Imo state attorney-general before the supreme court over the boundaries.

The State government sought a 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 the two states.”

The plaintiff also sought a declaration that the said maps 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.”

Rivers state urged the supreme court to declare that the correct instrument, maps and documents to be relied on in determining the boundary between Rivers and Imo State are those used by the plaintiff in delineating the boundary lines between Rivers and Imo.

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They prayed the court to declare that the oil wells within Akri and Mbede communities are wrongly attributed to Imo state as they fall within the territory of Rivers state and form part of Rivers state.

It also prayed that only Rivers state is entitled to receive the full allocation of the distributable revenue from the oil wells based on the 1390 derivation as contained under section 162 of the 1999 constitution.

Consequently, they sought an order directing the “AGF to calculate, to its satisfaction, and refund to it all revenue that has 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.”

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

The supreme court has fixed September 21 for the hearing of the substantive suit.

In 2020, Rivers state won a boundary dispute involving the return of the Soku oil fields from Bayelsa state.

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