Why Tussle Over 'Anambra Oil Wells' Persists

By The Citizen

Despite what looked like a momentary truce between the governments of Anambra, Kogi and Enugu State over the crisis of ownership of oil well OPL 915 being presently explored by Orient Petroleum Limited in Anambra State, The Guardian's investigations reveal that the truce might not last due to the manner the matter is being handled by concerned authorities, especially the National Boundaries Commission (NBC) and the Presidency.

Investigations revealed that following the public outcry over the explorative activities of Orient Petroleum Limited in the oil producing communities of Igga/Asaba, Ojjor and Ogurugu without recourse to the consent, rights and privileges of the people in the communities, the government of Enugu State, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Council Area, government of Kogi State, Ibaji Area Council, Anambra State government, Anambra East Local government, the representatives of National Boundaries Commission, Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation, Igga/Asaba, Ojjor, Ogurugu, Odeke, Echenwo and Enugwu-Otu Aguleri had met on April 25, 2012 at the Office of the Secretary to Government of Enugu State, Abuja Building, Government House, Enugu.       Those who attended the meeting included Chairman, Uzo-Uwani Council Area, Cornell Onwubuya, traditional rulers from Igga, Ojjor, Adani, Ogurugu and Town Union Presidents and Secretaries from Igga, Ojjor, Ogurugu, Adani and Chief Maximus Ukuta.

Enugu State Deputy Governor, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Enugu State and others made representations and the need to maintain absolute peace and co-existence in the border communities was stressed.

On April 26, 2012 stakeholders meetings were convened at Awka involving the Enugu State delegation led by Onyebuchi, Onwubuya, state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Secretary to the Government of Enugu State, while Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state led Anambra delegation and Chief Nwaka on behalf of Orient Petroleum Limited.

A source at the meeting revealed that Enugu State delegation made their stand clear as land owners, brandishing some supporting documents, while management of Orient Petroleum pledged to be fair to all and appealed for calm.

It was alleged that at the meeting, neither Anambra State government nor the people of Aguleri presented any verifiable evidence of ownership of the oil location. Instead, they appealed to the people of Enugu State for understanding as, according to them, 'they will get their fair share from the oil derivation benefits'. The Enugu State delegation on its part reiterated its commitment to peace and good neighbourliness.

After the commissioning of the Orient Petroleum Refinery at Aguleri-Otu, Anambra East Council Area, President  Goodluck Jonathan declared Anambra as an oil-producing state, a declaration which angered the people of the communities in Kogi and Enugu State that have been laying claim of ownership of the oil wells.

Following the renewed clashes among the people of the communities, President Jonathan on October 31, 2012 summoned another meeting involving representatives of Anambra, Kogi and Enugu State at the Presidential Villa. Deputy Governor Onyebuchi led Enugu delegation to the meeting. Others included Senator Ayogu representing Enugu North Senatorial District, Anthony Ani Esq., Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Hon. Cornell Onwubuya, Executive Chairman, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Council and Chief Osai Osai.

Anambra and Kogi delegations were led by the Anambra State governor, Peter Obi and his Kogi counterpart, Alhaji IdrisWada.

It was alleged that at the meeting, Obi summarily dwelt on the huge investment made by Anambra State government and Orient Petroleum Limited in the disputed oil location without making any strong claims and proof of ownership by Enugwu-Out Aguleri in Anambra East Local Council Area of Anambra State. He claimed ignorance of the fact that the place was in dispute.

Wada, his Kogi counterpart, according to a source at the meeting, declared that from the available records and history, the people of Kogi have boundaries with the Igala- speaking communities in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area and not Enugwu-Otu Aguleri as claimed by stakeholders from Anambra State and appealed to President Jonathan to intervene in order to ensure amicable resolution of the dispute.

Onyebuchi stressed that when he received complaints of trespass and incursion into the lands belonging to the Igala-speaking communities in Uzo-Uwani where the oil wells are allegedly located, he met Obi on the issue, even at the South East Governors' Forum and enjoined him to warn his people to desist from the acts, including the oil prospecting.

According to the source, President Jonathan at the meeting declared that he had received more swipes than envisaged since he went to commission or inaugurate the oil facility belonging to Orient Petroleum as his office was inundated with petitions even in the media and that he could not categorically state where the oil wells were located.

President Jonathan, the source noted,  stated that there were many issues to be determined and appealed for restraint and peace in the three states. He reportedly refuted the stories in some sections of the media that he declared Anambra State an oil-producing state and urged the three states, the National Boundaries Commission, Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission to look into the matter with a view to undertaking field tracing and demarcating the boundary points in the three states.

Based on the Presidency's directives, the joint meeting of officials on Enugu/Kogi Interstate boundary was held in Lokoja on December 4, 2012. At the meeting were Onwubuya, his vice, Mr. Maxwell Odakpa, three persons and traditional rulers from Igga, Ojjor, Asaba and Ogurugu communities and their Kogi State counterparts.

It was resolved that a Technical Committee comprising the following people be constituted: representatives of National Boundaries Commission (NBC) Surveyor Bashir Shettima (Director, Internal Boundaries); Surveyor A.A. Adaji (Deputy Director, Internal Boundaries) Surveyor Ibrahim Musa (Deputy Director, Research and Planning) A.U. Ugbah, Mr. Abdullahi Baffa.

Representatives from Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation included Surveyor J.F. Oyeyemi (Deputy Director Internal Boundaries) Surveyor M. Akiwade (Project Surveyor) Surveyor I.B. Ojesanmi (Principal Surveyor) Surveyor Azubuike Jerry .C. (Surveyor I.)

Representatives of Enugu State government officials included Surveyor Amadi K.U. (Surveyor-General) Elder S.U. Ugwu Prince (Secretary, Boundary Committee) Surveyor Ishiwu G.C. (Project Surveyor)

Representatives of Kogi State included Surveyor M.O. Oguns (Surveyor General) Mr. Olarewaju M.A. (Secretary, Boundary Committee) Mr. Negedu Achimugu Amos (Senior Technical Office).

After deliberations in Abuja which lasted from January 22-24 this year, the Committee resolved that the Kabba provincial map already scanned and geo-references by the office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation be used in conjunction with the Gazette of places and names and Benue Provincial Map to be used also.

The Committee further recommended that the use of extracted coordinates and plotting on the Kabba and Benue Provincial Maps as guide for the field work can be undertaken as agreed in the communique of the Lokoja meeting of December 4 last year and flag-off of the field tracing at Umulokpa, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area on February 25, 2013.

The states were saddled with the responsibility of sensitizing their border communities. It was revealed that the ethnographic study of Enugu-Kogi Inter boundaries had been proposed by the National Boundaries Commission on May 20, 2009 vide a memo to the Surveyor General of Enugu State No. NBC.210/x.

The Guardian investigations revealed that the bone of contention which sparked off the recent killings in the agitating communities of Kogi, Enugu and Anambra on March 25 was the disagreement in the tracing exercise of Enugu and Kogi States on March 21 when the stakeholders from Ibaji Area Council Kogi State and Uzo-Uwani Local Government Enugu State found out that the officials saddled with the responsibility of carrying out the exercising allegedly jettisoned the guide and methodology adopted by members of the Technical Committee in its meeting in Abuja held between 22nd and 24th January this year.

The officials stipulated that the tracing exercise should take off from congruence of Anambra with old channel of River Okpo bearing the identified co-ordinates Eastings and Northings 060 57' 27'. 234E; 060 51' 14'. 17N, instead of originally commencing from the junction of River Odah with features found in-between (Igga) Enugu State and Echeno in Kogi State, bearing the Co-ordinates as follows: 060 48' 31.755E, 060 34' 17'. 359N.

It was alleged that if the tracing commenced from Ogurugu axis as purportedly directed by Prof. P.C. Nwilo, Surveyor General of the Federation, an indigene of Adazi-Enu in Anambra against the adopted technical guide, it then means that it will no longer commence from Echeno in Kogi State, thereby placing Igga and Ojjor communities in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area in the area which would be traced to Kogi and Anambra States instead of Kogi/Enugu States. Culled from The Guardian