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Soku Oil Field: Bayelsa, Rivers Back on Warpath

05 Apr 2013

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Federal High Court


Segun James  


The Bayelsa and Rivers State, Government are back on the warpath over the ownership of the disputed Soku oil field and flow station located in the boundary area of both state.

It was gathered that the new dispute arose following the withdrawal of the Rivers State Government from the boundary commission set up by the federal government to adjudicate on the dispute.
Angered by the action, Bayelsa State Government was said to have accused Rivers State of abuse of judicial process over the disputed Soku Oil Fields/Boundary disputes.

The chiefs and principal members of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area in Rivers State had in a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/413/20 against the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and Attorney General of Bayelsa State prayed the court to declare River Santa Barbara as the boundary between the Kalabaris in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State and the Nembes in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The plaintiff, also sought the court declaration on the purported 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria, arguing that it was done in error and its adoption should be declared null and void.

However, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Bayelsa State, Chief Francis Egele, who is the defendant, submitted that the plaintiff has no locus standi, arguing that boundary matter is an issue between the states and not local government areas or communities.

Describing the suit as filed by the plaintiff, as abuse of judicial process, the state legal officer submitted that the Supreme Court had adjudicated on the matter, adding that it is wrong for individuals, group or state to flout the order of the apex court.

Quoting copiously from the ruling of the Supreme Court as read by Justice Suleiman Galadima, Egele said the boundary between the two states could not be determined until the NBC completed its assignment as contained in the Supreme Court judgement on suit number 106/2009.

The judgement read in part: “I have set out the function of the NBC above and from the provision of the NBC Act, it cannot be seriously suggested that before the jurisdiction of this court is invoked in a boundary dispute between states, the NBC should have determined the dispute or completed its exercise in delineating the disputed boundary.

“It is on account of the foregoing and because of the technical nature of the dispute and the claims of the parties, this court finds that the NBC as an authority vested with authorities and expertise know-how in dealing with this matter should have once and for all conducted an exhaustive exercise of delineating the disputed boundary.

“In the light of the observations, I have clearly expressed above, I do not feel comfortable to grant the declarations sought until the NBC concludes its exercise of delineation of the disputed boundary to finality. It will be futile and premature to determine the boundary of the two states in the present circumstances.”
Meanwhile, the suit filed in by Chief Goddey Orusah, and seven others for themselves and as representing the chiefs and principal members of the Akuku-Toru local government area has been fixed for hearing at the Federal High Court Seven, Abuja on April 10.

Egele said in spite of the fact that Bayelsa State Government was not properly served the writ of summon, the state would file its defence at the hearing.

Tags: News, Nigeria, Featured, Oil Field, Bayelsa, RIVERS

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