From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to beam a searchlight on the National Boundary Commission (NBC) as it now personifies corruption.
Wike stated this, yesterday, at a special thanksgiving service, at Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Port Harcourt, following the legal victory at the Supreme Court in a dispute over ownership of 17 oil wells with Imo State, where he claimed the NBC sought to compound the crisis.
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However, Governor Hope Uzodimma told journalists in Lagos that it was too early for anybody to celebrate or cry over the recent Supreme Court judgment that purportedly ceded 17 oil wells to Rivers State.
He said the issue was before the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and noted that some of the oil wells in contention were in Oguta which is part of Imo State.
The governor said they had not seen a copy of the judgment noting that as soon as they do, they would study the details and apply for a review or reinterpretation where necessary.
He said: “I don’t know which appeal the Supreme Court said succeeded partially. So, i want to see the details before i can say anything. I know that some of the oil wells are in Oguta in Imo State. Does it mean that they are also ceding the traditional ruler and the schools in Oguta to Rivers State? We are waiting for the National Boundary Commission to come out with their report on the matter and based on that we can apply for a review of the Supreme Court judgment. I have a lot of respect for the court and don’t want to say it has done anything wrong when i have not seen details of the judgment. I can’t say anything yet.”
But Governor Wike said the controversial oil wells in Akiri and Mbede communities, though in dispute, awaited proper boundary demarcation by the NBC, to clarify if they belonged to Rivers or Imo State.
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He, however, said while waiting for the NBC, a political understanding was reached between Rivers and Imo State then governed by Dr. Peter Odili and Achike Udenwa, respectively.
He regretted that former Imo Governor, Emeka Ihedioha breached the political arrangement of 50:50 sharing formula of proceeds from the disputed oil well in Akiri and Mbede communities.
“This young man (Emeka Ihedioha), just within four/five months he became a governor, went to see Mr. President; he wrote to Mr. President that Rivers State is owing Imo State N15 billion and therefore, they should take the money from Rivers State, that the oil wells we are sharing on the 50:50 formula amicably belongs to them.
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“This is someone Rivers people, not Rivers State government, supported, and spent money on. I’ve never seen a betrayal like this in my life that the former governor Emeka Ihedioha displayed. Rivers people who helped him had sleepless night to make him the governor of Imo State. We did everything we could do, thinking that we were supporting a friend. All we got was a stab at the back.”
Wike said at the behest of President Buhari, his late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari wrote a letter to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC), directing that N15billion be deducted from Rivers State and the handover of the disputed oil wells to Imo State as requested by Ihedioha.
“But because of the sharp, very focus and honest Commissioner of Finance that we have in Rivers State, the letter bearing the instruction to take N15 billion from us and the oil wells to be taken away from us was intercepted.
“We rushed to the Federal High Court to contest that Mr. President has no power to direct this and the court agreed with us that yes Mr. President has no power to do this. That if there is anybody to do this it is the National Boundary Commission. Unfortunately, the most corrupt national agency is the National Boundary Commission(NBC). Corruption is personified in NBC.
“If Mr President is fighting corruption, he should leave innocent individuals and go to these agencies where corruption is personified. I’ve never seen people who believe anything they do must be for money. They will abandon their function and create problems between states where there ought to be no be problems. They will not do the right work so that the states can live in harmony.”
Governor Wike said the legal battle was pursued to the Supreme Court with archival documents submitted with sound legal presentations from 21 Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on the Rivers legal term.
He said there was final determination of the owner of the oil wells and where they are situated in favour of Rivers State, despite the protest by Governor Hope Uzodimma sponsored to discredit the judges.
He expressed delight over the legal victory secured and the reclaiming of Rivers assets that would further provide needed financial resource to his successor to use in developing the state.
“But we had hope in God. If God says it is for Rivers, there is nothing anybody can do about it. But I wondered why should it be in my time that Rivers asset will be taken away. Politicians will come and say, it was in his time that Rivers State lost these oil well. And so, you may see how in my mind, I am over happy, that I am leaving and not leaving liability behind for the state and my successor.”