09 January 2014, Yenagoa – Bayelsa State Government, has accused Rivers State governor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi of distortion of facts on Soku oil wells and blackmailing President Goodluck Jonathan over the wells.
The state government also accused Amaechi, who recently defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, of using Soku to incite the Kalabaris in Rivers State against their Nembe kinsmen in Bayelsa State.
A statement by Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, said the controversy on Soku had long been resolved by the Supreme Court, National Boundaries Commission, NBC and several presidential committees.
The state government expressed surprise that Amaechi, being fully aware that the matter had long been resolved, was now stoking the matter just to grab media attention and score cheap political points.Iworiso-Markson said Amaechi was aware that Soku was merely a name adopted by Shell, being its nearest operations base at the time, and not necessarily the location of the oil wells.
This fact, he noted had been attested to by the NBC as well as a committee set up in October 2000 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, and headed by Maj. Gen. A. B. Mamman (rtd).
“The crux of the matter is whether the said oil wells, which bear the name given by Shell are within Bayelsa or Rivers states according to the administrative map of Nigeria and other instruments for purposes of derivation?”
“It is instructive to note that not only are the survey coordinates of the affected areas within the geographical area of Bayelsa State, it is also in Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, delineated electoral constituency as electoral ward 13 in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.”
Citing chapter 3 of a report of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, dated August 2006, he stated, “The Bayelsa/Imo/Abia State governments complained that the naming of oil fields was often done arbitrarily without any regard to the culture and particular environment of the people where the wells or fields are located. This has given rise to wrong attribution by relevant agencies.
“Incidentally, Soku village in Rivers State is about 10 km, as the crow flies, from the flow station while the Oluasiri/Soku oil wells/field are completely surrounded by various Oluasiri communities such as Etukekiri, Ijawkiri, Fredkiri, Adokonikiri etc all in Nembe council of Bayelsa State.”
Quoting the report of the General Mamman committee, he said “Soku Oil Field: The team relied on the legal notice captioned “The Eastern Region Local Government Law, 1955 E.R. NO 26 of 1955. Instrument Establishing the Nembe District Council” tendered by Bayelsa State on Pages 40-41 of its submission.
“It should be noted that while the Kalabaris of Rivers State call the area Soku, the Nembe people of Bayelsa State call it Oluasiri which is one of the councils mentioned in paragraph 5 of the above mentioned instrument. In the light of the above, it is recommended that the production from Soku Oil Field be attributed to Bayelsa State.”
The statement said that it was the reports that paved the way for Bayelsa to apply for the monies that had been placed in an escrow account when Amaechi approached the Supreme Court.
“From July 2004, the Revenue Commission officially attributed the Oluasiri (Soku) oil well to Bayelsa State and N7.292 billion was subsequently released from the Escrow account to Bayelsa State on March 19, 2007, during the administration of President Obasanjo,” it said.
The government said the application for a refund of N17. 4billion was made during the administration of President Umar Yar’Adua, on the reconciliation on Nimbe South oil field in Bayelsa State and was found by RMAFC to be true.
The statement added that Amaechi failed to disclose that Rivers State made a similar claim on Nda and Okwori oil wells from Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Delta states, and got a refund of N17.5 billion.It accused Amaechi of leading a smear campaign against President Jonathan, and threatening the peace and security of the country.
“The Government of Bayelsa State assures our brothers, friends and the good people of Rivers State that our thoughts and prayers are with them at this trying moment in the life of our parent state, where a good number of our citizens still reside and call home,” the statement added.Efforts to get official reaction from the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Mrs Ibim Seminatiri proved abortive.