The Rivers State Government has accused the governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson of blackmailing the people of Kalabari kingdom in Rivers State, so as to take the Soku oil wells from them.
Reacting to an earlier statement issued by the Bayelsa State government on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, the Rivers State government described the allegation by Dickson that Governor Rotimi Amaechi was using the issue of Soku oil wells to incite the people of Kalabari kingdom against their kinsmen in Nembe, Bayelsa, as well as blackmailing and leading a campaign of calumny against President Goodluck Jonathan, as dangerous, unfounded and in bad faith.
A statement issued in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Thursday and signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Amaechi, David Iyofor, said; “The Bayelsa State governor in his press statement accused Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi of blackmailing President Goodluck Jonathan and leading a smear campaign against him, and using Soku to incite the Kalabaris in Rivers State against their Nembe kinsmen in Bayelsa.
“This assertion is dangerous, unfounded and in bad faith. Rather, it is the Bayelsa State governor, who has been blackmailing Kalabari people of Rivers State, cajoling them to relinquish the Soku oil wells to Bayelsa State, using the puerile argument that President Jonathan is Ijaw; Kalabari people are Ijaw; so, Kalabari people should support their Ijaw brother, who is the president, to take away Kalabari oil wells and should not join Governor Amaechi, who is not Ijaw, in the fight to return Soku oil wells to Kalabari people in the state”.
The statement said Dickson erred when he said the issue of Soku oil wells had been resolved by the Supreme Court, the National Boundaries Commission (NBC) and several presidential committees, reminding him that the Supreme Court said it would wait for the 12th edition of the administrative map, which when completed, would be of assistance in settling the dispute.
It reads in part; “After a very long slumber, Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, through his chief press secretary issued a statement claiming that the Soku oil wells, which historically have always been in Rivers State are in Bayelsa State. This statement is coming many months after the Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi consistently reiterated that the Soku oil wells which belong to Rivers State had been appropriated to Bayelsa State by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government.
“It is also interesting to note that the statement from the Bayelsa governor is coming after he has held several clandestine meetings with a few Kalabari indigenes and chiefs in his bid to get them to publicly renounce the Kalabari ownership of the Soku oil wells. At these meetings, all sorts of dummies were thrown up, including the story that ‘President Jonathan is Ijaw; Kalabari people are Ijaw; so Kalabari people should support their fellow Ijaw brother, who is the president, to take away Kalabari oil wells and should not join Governor Amaechi, who is not Ijaw, in the fight to return Soku oil wells to Kalabari people of Rivers State.
“The facts on the Rivers State ownership of the Soku oil wells are immutable, no matter how the Bayelsa State governor tries to stretch, twist or spin them. Even in his statement, he conveniently left out the fact that from colonial times up till the 10th edition of the administrative map of Nigeria, the boundaries between the Kalabari communities in Rivers State and the neighbouring Nembe communities of Bayelsa State had been clearly delineated, with the boundary clearly marked as the Santa Barbara River.
“The 11th edition of the administrative map, prepared by the National Boundary Commission and the Federal Surveyor General’s office in 1999, but published in 2000, strangely shifted the boundaries between Rivers and Bayelsa states from the initial boundary between Kalabari and Nembe, west of the Santa Barbara River, to San Bartholomew River, contrary to the delineation by all preceding administrative maps of Nigeria and all historical records.
“The revenues from the disputed Soku wells were originally fixed in an escrow account to await the resolution of the boundary dispute and this had been so until recently when the authorities decided to release the monies from the disputed oil wells to Bayelsa State. This unjust and illegal administrative decision resulted in Rivers State government instituting Suit N0 SC/106/2009 Att. Gen of Rivers State State vs. Att. Gen of Bayelsa State & others. The court decided that it would be appropriate to await the final delineation of the boundary by the National Boundary Commission for completeness, we quote the court:
“It is on account of the foregoing and because of the technical nature of the dispute and the claims of the parties that the court finds that the NBC (National Boundary Commission) as an authority vested with authorities and expertise, know-how in dealing with this matter, should have, once and for all, conducted an exhaustive exercise of delineating the disputed boundary, hence the long awaited 12th edition of the administrative map when completed soonest would have been of tremendous assistance in settling the lingering dispute.
“In the light of the observations I have clearly expressed above, I do not feel comfortable to grant the declarations sought until the NBC concludes its exercise of delineation of disputed boundary to finality. It will be futile and premature to determine the boundary of the two parties in the present circumstance.
“The Supreme Court judgment is clear – that it could not and would not decide the boundary based on the erroneous 11th edition administrative map the Bayelsa State governor is relying on and using as his basis to claim Bayelsa ownership of the Soku oil wells; but that it will await the final delineation to be heralded by the promised 12th edition of the map”.