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76 Oil Wells: Cross River Owes Akwa Ibom N18bn

By Essien Ndueso
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Days after the Supreme Court confirmed Akwa Ibom as the rightful owner of the 76 disputed oil wells; fresh facts indicate that Cross River ought not to have dragged the issue to court.

According to the Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim, Cross River State was instead indebted to Akwa Ibom to the tune of N18.4billion , which it “surreptitiously caused the Revenue Mobilzation , Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to arbitrarily and illegally deduct from the derivation revenues of Akwa Ibom State between January 2008 and May 2012”.

Barrister Ntekim explained that contrary to the position of Cross River State that the N18.4 billion was deducted from the ecological fund, the said amount was actually arbitrarily and illegally deducted from the statutory derivation revenue of Akwa Ibom State.

“It should be stressed that the entire sum of over N18 billion paid to Cross River State during the said period was not sourced from any Ecological funds as erroneously represented by agents of the Cross River State Government, but from the statutory derivation revenues of Akwa Ibom”, he stated.

He pointed out that the deduction was even twice the value of the derivation revenue accruable from the 76 oil wells for the period in contravention of Section 162(2) of the 1999 Constitution.

This action, he said, negated the brotherly gesture in the proposals canvassed through a letter by the Akwa Ibom State Government to its Cross River State counterpart in January 2011.

He said that the Akwa Ibom State Government even offered Cross River State a monthly grant of N250 Million in appreciation of the historical and cultural ties that bind the two sister states; a gesture that was turned down by the Cross River State Government, which opted for a continued legal tussle.

The Akwa Ibom State Chief law officer further maintained that it was unfortunate that some elders from the sister state have chosen to ignore the position of the court on this matter and rather continue to fan the embers of disunity by making unguarded utterances.

“As a Government we are alarmed and shocked by the highly temperamental pronouncements of the leadership and agents of the Cross River State government over the said judgment aimed causing a frosty relationship between the peoples of the two states and demeaning the judicial officers of the Supreme Court”, Barr. Ntekim exclaimed.

He advised peace-loving Nigerians not to be deceived by wave of propaganda and deceit against the Supreme Court ruling of July 10, 2012, as the Akwa Ibom State Government will continue to operate within the provisions of the law.

“As a responsible government, we shall continue to maintain due process in matters of both law and government and refrain from actions capable of destroying the ancient bonds or intimidating and/ or weakening the administration of justice, irrespective of the occasion or euphemism”, he added.