EKPOTU, ITA ENANG DISAGREE WITH S/COURT OIL WELLS JUDGMENT
The recent Supreme Court ruling awarding 86 oil wells hitherto owned by Akwa Ibom State to Rivers State has continued to attract reactions from Akwa Ibom people within and outside government. The deputy governor of the state Obong Patrick Ekpotu on Monday described the judgment as a 'surprising, worrisome and unfortunate' decision which could henceforth empower two state governors to adjust their common boundaries without recourse to the National Boundaries Commission.
According to Ekpotu, the essence of the commission has been threatened by the judgment as it would no longer be allowed to play its role since the constitutional provisions appeared not be followed in arriving at the decision.
'The commission was set up in the aftermath of the of the ceding parts of Nigeria to Cameroon through an agreement between the then head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and his Cameroonian counterpart, Ahmadu Ahiijo to prevent a recurrence of such a unilateral signing off portions of its land to its neighbor by any political leader in the country.'
He described the judgment as a bad precedent and warned that if the Supreme Court judgment is not reviewed then the country could in future witness governors of states with neighboring countries boundaries entering into agreements and signing off parts of the country to those countries.
He tasked legal minds to rise up and prevail on the Supreme Court to review itself on the issue.
Similarly, the chairman House of Representatives Committee on Rules, business and Ethics Committee, Mr Ita Enang said though as a lawyer, he would not criticize the judgment, he strongly disagree with the judgement of the supreme court.
'There is no person that can go and sign away the interest of his people when you don't have jurisdiction, negotiate what is beyond your power. If a governors goes to sign an agreement that HAVE EFFECT OF AMENDING BOUNDARIES or ceding the constitutional rights of his people, that is not enforceable and is not legal in law, because the same supreme court has said that when the law vests on a person a right, that person cannot waive that right.
'If the constitution or national boundary commission vests oil well in Akwa Ibom or in a state, no agreement of the governor, not even with the consent of the state house of assembly can shift those oil well or that land because that would amount to boundary adjustment.
And to have a boundary adjustment there must be an agreement between the state A and State B; that is Rivers and Akwa Ibom State.
'The Houses of Assembly of those two states must agree and it must be taken to the national assembly and it must be passed by four-fifth majority of each chamber of the national assembly. In that case, this has not happened. And so that judgment is not acceptable, to me in law.'
He said what the state would do is to study the judgment, assembly legal experts locally and internationally, take the best of advise and proceed from there to get the judgment set aside and the right of Akwa Ibom people restored.
When contacted for comment, the man at the centre of the controversy and former governor of the state, Obong Victor Attah, who allegedly signed the agreement to cede the oil wells to Rivers state, politely decline to say anything on the ikssue.
He only told our correspondent on phone 'I'm sorry, I cannot help you,' and hung up. END