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Supreme Court stops FG from ceding 17 oil wells to Imo State

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The Supreme Court, yesterday, granted an order of injunction restraining the Federal Government and its agencies from ceding 17 oil wells to Imo State.

The disputed oil wells are located at Akri and Mbede communities at the boundary between Rivers State and Imo State. The order was granted pending the determination of a suit brought before the apex court by the Rivers State government.

Following a chamber ruling in an ex-parte application argued by Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), the apex court restrained the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Attorney General of Imo State from taking any further action on the ownership of the disputed oil wells till the ownership dispute surrounding them is resolved.

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The court also barred the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and the Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation from approving, implementing or giving effect in any manner to a letter from the RMAFC office, with reference number RMC/O&G/47/1/264 of July 1, 2021, which canceled the equal sharing of proceeds from the 17 oil wells by Rivers and Imo.

The court, thereby, fixed September 21, for hearing of the substantive matter. Rivers State, through its Attorney General, had dragged the AGF and the Attorney General of Imo State before the Supreme Court, asking for a declaration that the boundary between Rivers State and Imo State as delineated on Nigeria’s administrative map, 10, 11 and 12th editions and other maps bearing similar delineations are inaccurate, incorrect and do not represent the legitimate and lawful boundary between Rivers and Imo.

The plaintiff also sought a declaration that as far as Nigeria’s administrative map 10, 11 and 12th editions and other maps bearing similar delineations relate to the boundary 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 and to determine the revenue accruing to Rivers State from the federation account, including the application of the principle of derivation and other revenue allocation principles as contained in the 1999 Constitution.

It further applied that the Supreme Court declare that the correct instrument maps and documents to be relied on in determining the boundary between Rivers and Imo are those used by the plaintiff in delineating the boundary line between the two states.

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The plaintiff also sought a declaration that all the oil wells within Akri and Mbede communities are wrongly attributed to Imo State and that they are all oil wells within the territory of Rivers State and form part of Rivers State, and that only Rivers is entitled to receive the full allocation of the distributable revenue from the oil wells on the basis of the 1390 derivation as contained under Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution.

River State government, therefore, sought an order of mandatory injunction directing the AGF to calculate to its satisfaction, and refund to it all revenue that have 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.

The plaintiff also sought an order of injunction directing the AGF to withdraw from circulation its administrative map 10, 11 and 12th editions and refrain from relying on any of the said maps for the purpose of determining the boundary between Rivers and Imo.

Rivers also applied for another order of mandatory injunction directing the AGF to produce an administrative map bearing the correct boundary between Rivers and Imo States. A sum of N500,000,000 naira was also sought as cost of prosecuting the case.

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