76 oil wells: S-Court delivers judgment today

Ikechukwu Nnochiri

10 July 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA — BARRING any last minute intervention, Nigeria’s Supreme Court will today settle the dispute between the governments of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states over the ownership of 76 controversial oil wells.

It would be recalled that the Cross River State government went before the apex court, contending that the 76 oil wells, which it said were transferred to Akwa Ibom State by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, legally belonged to it.

Also joined as a party in the appeal before the Supreme Court was the Federal Government.
The appellant, through its lead counsel, Mr Yusuf Ali, prayed the apex court to compel both the Federal Government and Akwa Ibom State to pay to it, N15.5 billion, being the 13 per cent derivation that ought to have been paid to the state from November 2009 to March 10, 2010.

Meanwhile, even though the apex court has already slated today to deliver its judgment on the matter, the appellant, on Friday, re-approached the court with an application seeking the suspension of the judgment.

In its application, Cross River State alleged that a map that was tendered before the apex court by Akwa Ibom State was doctored, insisting that it did not represent the true position of the Nigerian-Cameroun boundary.

It noted that the map which is being relied upon by the apex court in resolving the protracted dispute between the two states was fraudulent, even as it has applied that the map be expunged from the list of evidences before the court.

The said map was attached to an affidavit that was deposed to by one Alhaji Bashir Shettima of the National Boundary Commission.

Besides, Cross River state, urged the apex court to summon Mr Shettima for cross examination, with a view to ascertaining why, the deponent, being an employee of the Federal Government, tendered false and biased evidence in a matter of such magnitude.

It noted that NBC had in several letters affirmed the right of Cross River State to the disputed oil wells, only for Shetima to depose to an affidavit that stated the contrary.

More so, the appellant is also praying the court to compel the former AGF, Chief Ojo, SAN, to also appear and testify as a witness in order to give evidence on the advice he gave in 2006 which the appellant said was the foundation of a political solution that was agreed upon by the parties.

It stressed that it was President Olusegun Obasanjo that harmonized the settlement agreement between the two warring states.

Cross River further sought an order compelling the current AGF, Mohammed Adoke Bello, SAN, to produce in court, the written advice given by Chief Bayo Ojo in his capacity as AGF in 2006, as well as the minutes of the meeting of 27th October, 2006, which formed the foundation of the political solution agreed upon by the parties.

It alleged that: “Alhaji Bashir Shettima fraudulently concealed the fact that the map attached to his evidence was not an authoritative map but was merely a sketch and proposal made by the NBC and was never approved by the Federal Government.

“Shettima fraudulently concealed from the court that the map was made without the input of the Surveyor General of the Federation, the authority empowered to delineating boundaries within Nigeria.”
It maintained that the evidence that was given by Shettima, compromised Nigeria’s territorial integrity and security as well as the country’s position with respect to the on-going maritime boundary negotiations between Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and the Republic of Cameroon.

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