Posted by News Express | 9 January 2014 | 4,047 times
The controversy over Soku oil wells in the Niger Delta has deepened, with the Bayelsa State Government branding Governor Chibuike Amaechi of neighbouring Rivers State a mischievous liar for claiming that President Goodluck Jonathan ceded the oil wells to his home state in his bid to punish Rivers people. There is no love lost between President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi, who last November 26 decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
Responding to Amaechi’s claims on the oil wells, the Bayelsa State Government accused him of distorting the facts and also blackmailing President Jonathan.
In a statement issued in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, by Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa declared that there was no controversy over the ownership of the Soku oil wells as the issue had since been resolved by the Supreme Court, the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and several presidential committees.
“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 Council Area of Bayelsa State,” the statement said.
It quoted Chapter 3 of a report of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) dated August 2006, which reads as follows:
“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 kilometres, as the crow flies, from the flow station while the Oluasiri/Soku oil wells/field is completely surrounded by various Oluasiri communities such as Etukekiri, Ijawkiri, Fredkiri, Adokonikiri etc, all in Nembe Local Council Area of Bayelsa State.”
Iworiso-Markson in the statement also quoted sections of a report of a committee set up in October 2000 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and headed by Maj. Gen. A. B. Mamman (rtd), which 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 Kalabari 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.”
It was these reports, according to the statement, 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 the amount of N7,292,218,892 was subsequently released from the ESCROW account to Bayelsa State on March 19, 2007, during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo,” the statement said.
It noted that the Bayelsa State Government made the application for a refund of N17,405,702,164.34 during the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on the reconciliation on Nembe-South oil field in Bayelsa State and was found by RMAFC to be true.
Amaechi, according to the statement, 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.
•Photo shows Governor Amaechi.
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