Soku Oil Wells Belong to Rivers, Wike Insists

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike,

•Argues extant court judgment confirms claim
•Says Dickson’s outburst due to self-inflicted frustration

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has declared that the Soku oil wells belong to the government and people of Rivers State as affirmed by the Federal High Court and based on the admission by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).

He noted that the NBC had admitted that it erroneously shifted the boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa States from River Santa Barbara to River Saint Bartholomew in the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria.

Wike spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt while addressing journalists in a reaction to allegations by Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, that the Rivers State governor was hyping the judgment over the disputed oil wells to cause division among the Ijaw nation.

Dickson had during a media chat at the Government House in Yenagoa, alleged that Wike was merely using the disputed oil wells between the two sister states to create disunity and to cover up the deliberate underdevelopment of Rivers Ijaw communities by pretending to be their champion.

Dickson also said as a Nigerian and a bona fide Ijaw son, he and indeed any past or future governor of the state reserved every right to travel anywhere without being questioned by anybody.

In his reaction, Wike described the allegations made against him by his Bayelsa counterpart as the baseless ranting of a frustrated politician who is yet to come to terms with his losses.

“In 2002, the NBC altered the boundary in the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria. They made a mistake by shifting the boundary from River Santa Barbara to River St. Bartholomew. At the Supreme Court, the NBC wrote a letter admitting their error.

“The Supreme Court made an order for the NBC to correct the error of the 11th Edition in the 12th Edition,” he said.

Wike said seven years after the Supreme Court gave the order, the NBC was yet to effect the correction. He said that preliminary report on the 12th Edition indicated that the NBC made no attempt to obey the order of the Supreme Court.

His words: “We had to sue the NBC to enforce the order of the Supreme Court, where they were directed to ensure that the boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa State is River Santa Barbara.

“Judgment has been given. The best the Bayelsa State governor can do is to go on appeal.
“You cannot heap your frustration on us. We have nobody to carry guns, so the best place to go is the court.”

Wike stated that he was elected by Rivers people to protect their interests and that there was nothing personal in the fight for Soku Oil Wells.
“I am protecting what belongs to Rivers State Ijaw. I am protecting what belongs to Rivers State.

“The outgoing Bayelsa State governor is the one trying to cause disharmony by attempting to collect what belongs to the Ijaw in Rivers State,” he said.

He stated that contrary to Dickson’s allegations, he had in four years executed more projects in Ijaw land than his Bayelsa counterpart had done in eight years.

The governor said: “I read Governor Dickson’s outburst on almost all national dailies today. I also watched it on television last night. As a governor, there are some levels you cannot descend to.

“It is unfortunate that frustration can lead to a lot of things. God will never allow me to get to that level. I understand the frustration, it was self-inflicted. Nobody inflicted the frustration on him.”

He challenged the Bayelsa State governor, to a debate on projects executed in the eight local government areas of that state, compared to the projects has executed in the 23 local government areas of Rivers State.

Wike said: “If truly he is an Ijaw person, which of the Ijaw land am I causing disharmony. That I am protecting what belongs to Rivers people and you are coming to take it. Between us, who is causing disharmony.

“Before you said I have not done anything for Ijaw communities, let’s start from your state, you have been in government for eight years and I have been in government for four and half years, let’s check the projects in the two states.

“Contrary to the allegation by the outgoing Bayelsa State governor, there is no local government area in Rivers State where we don’t have projects. Let him mention the projects he has in the eight local government areas of Bayelsa State. Dickson cannot in all ramifications compare himself to me in terms of development.”

Wike said while Rivers State was a major construction site, the Bayelsa State governor had failed his people by failing to utilise their resources judiciously.
He said for a small state like Bayelsa, it was wrong for Dickson to expend N70 billion on an uncompleted airport, when Bayelsa State lacked good roads and basic infrastructure.

He regretted that the outgoing Bayelsa State governor refused to respect the rules of protocol, when he visited the Amanyanabo of Kalabari without informing the Rivers State government.

He said: “The person talking about invading Rivers State in January 2020 lacks respect for protocol. If he was well schooled, would he use that phrase that he wants to invade Rivers State?

“You have no respect. A traditional ruler who is a first class ruler, recognised by government and you say you are coming to a state as a governor to see Rivers Ijaw people without observing basic protocol. Protocol demands you call your colleague that you are coming to the state. Even then, the traditional ruler failed to communicate with the state government.

“And I said, if you do this next time, I will withdraw the recognition. I didn’t say I will dethrone him. I don’t make chiefs. But I have the power to recognise or take back recognition, if you run foul of the law. I have no regrets about it. Anyone who runs foul of the law, I will withdraw the recognition and heaven will not fall.

“I never said that I will dethrone the Amanyanabo of Kalabari. I said that I will withdraw the recognition by the Rivers State government if he continues to disrespect the office of the governor and not play according to the rules.

How can Dickson invade Rivers State when he cannot defend Bayelsa State?”
Wike also said there were no oil wars between Rivers State and Imo/Akwa Ibom States as claimed by the Bayelsa State governor.

He said he went to court against Imo State to challenge the attempt to take what belongs to Rivers State. He added that he went to court against Akwa Ibom State because of illegal deductions of funds from Rivers State by the agencies of the federal government.

He said he still enjoyed a good working relationship with the governors of Imo and Akwa Ibom States as the differences were basically on official matters.
He said that through the poor leadership of the Bayelsa State governor, the PDP Governors’ Forum and the PDP South-South Governors’ Forum failed.

Wike berated Dickson for claiming that he was interfering in Bayelsa State politics. He said before Dickson became governor, it was the present PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and King Turner that brought him (Dickson) to receive his (Wike’s) support.

He said the outgoing Bayelsa State governor was never committed to the PDP, all through the elections.

He said: “We are the only state in the South-South that President Muhammadu Buhari never got 25 per cent. Buhari got 45 per cent in Bayelsa State. So, who colluded with whom? It is now that Dickson has realised that they played him.

All those nocturnal promises were not kept. I challenge Dickson to ask his candidate, Senator Douye Diri the contributions I made. Is it because I didn’t pass it through him?

On why the PDP lost Bayelsa State, Wike said: “Dickson planned for PDP to fail elections and he is now crying federal might. He assumed the role of God. Nobody could tell him anything. During his second term election, people resisted the Army. But this time, they left him alone.

“You cannot accord former President Goodluck Jonathan respect. Simply because Rivers State honoured Jonathan, Dickson became angry.”

He added: “Dickson concluded plans to join the APC. Timipre Sylva and Heineken Lokpobiri blocked him. He knew I have strength, he would have consulted me.

“Dickson colluded with these people, so that EFCC will not arrest him when he leaves government. If you like, carry any level of propaganda; I will protect the interest of Rivers State.”

Wike insisted he was a good representative of Rivers State as he used their mandate effectively to develop the state. He said in four and half years, he had achieved more for Rivers State than Dickson did for Bayelsa State in about eight years.

He said: “I have represented Rivers people very well. I have made Rivers people proud. Rivers State is multi-ethnic and I have ensured all ethnic groups get the dividends of democracy.

“Part of the representation of Rivers State is to protect what belongs to Rivers State. Rivers people know that I have represented them very well.”

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had ruled that Rivers State owns the disputed Soku Oil Wells/Fields located in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.

In a judgment in Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/984/19, the Attorney-General of Rivers State versus National Boundary Commission, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court declared that after examining all the documents from relevant government agencies and facts before the court, the Soku Oil Wells/fields belong to Rivers State.

The Federal High Court made an order compelling the National Boundary Commission to rectify forthwith in the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria, the erroneous interstate boundary between Rivers State and Bayelsa State as contained in the extant 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria.