Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi
Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has been asked to account for the N120 billion derivation funds collected so far by the state from the disputed Soku/Oluasiri oil wells.
A group, Rivers Truth Movement, in a release weekend, jointly signed by Charles Douglas Jack and Steven Amachere, its President and Secretary respectively, also queried why Amaechi did not tell the people of Rivers State and the general public about the N17billion refund, which it claimed was collected by Rivers State Government, which was paid by the other states at the same time Bayelsa State got its refund.
The group noted that aside the argument as to the territorial limits of state political and administrative boundaries within the administrative map and the legal claim to Soku oil field as it were, it was clear that a substantial amount of money had been collected by the Rivers State Government till date on the disputed oil wells.
The organisation said it was pertinent for the Rivers State Governor to speak up on what had become of all the monies collected so far and how the Kalabari people in particular, and Rivers State in general, benefitted from this money.
“We have been following with keen interest, the heated debate and dispute over the ownership of oil wells between our two sister states of Rivers and Bayelsa. As concerned citizens of Rivers State, operating under the aegis of Rivers Truth Movement, we are drawn to the unfolding dimension, the new twist to the debate and the emergence of new facts as established in the respective media statements and outbursts, especially arising from recent comments made by Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson.
Dickson was quoted to have as said that Rivers State Government wrongly collected about N120 billion as derivation fund accruing from the Soku Oil fields.
The group said: “From all accounts, the said money was wrongly credited to Rivers State and the collection of the money spans several years. The same media report, which enjoyed wide coverage in both print and electronic media, for which the Rivers State government is yet to debunk, also credited Governor Dickson with the statement further alluding to the fact that there was a general reconciliation of figures by the following states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Bayelsa which revealed a wrongful payment to Rivers State, totaling N17, 566, 394, 965.18.”
“In the course of the said reconciliation of figures, Rivers State Government, we were told also made a claim to wrongful payment to all the above neighbouring states, whose claims were found to be genuine and thus all the neighbouring states agreed to make refunds to Rivers State totaling N15billion.
“We were told from the report that it was a consensual refund by the states involved, for which Bayelsa State share of the refund was put at about N2, 071, 164, 678.46 which was paid from its earlier refund of N17billion, the same amount the Rivers State government claimed was kept in an escrow account.
They therefore sought to know: “Whether it also President Goodluck Jonathan, using the federal authorities, including Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to arm- twist other states to make the refund in favour of Rivers State which the governor has since collected,” adding “If the answer is no, why is Governor Amaechi alleging that Bayelsa got the refund simply because it is the home state of Mr. President.
They also queried why Amaechi could not take the matter up with the federal agencies administratively.