76 OIL WELLS: CROSS RIVER IGNORED POLITICAL SOLUTION - A/IBOM ATTORNEY-GEN
Government of Akwa Ibom yesterday explained how its sister state of Cross River declined all brotherly efforts and solutions offered to settle the dispute over the ownership of the 76 oil wells.
Briefing news men yesterday in Uyo the Secretary to the State Government, Umana Umana, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ekpenyong Ntekim and Commissioner for Information, Aniekan Umanah said that, the government reminded the Cross River State people that Akwa Ibom people love them and could never have contemplated a law suit against them.
Ntekim who read the press statement titled: '76 oil wells - How Cross River State went to Court and lost' on behalf of the state government, said the Case No. SC. 250/2009 decided on July 10, this year by the Supreme Court of Nigeria was instituted by the government of Cross River on September 14, 2009 against the Federal Government of Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State government.
He explained that prior to the filling of the case by Cross River State Government at the Supreme Court; Governor Godswill Akpabio had undertaken series of peaceful overtures to Cross River State, including offers of possibly monthly financial assistance to Cross River State from the revenue allocation due Akwa Ibom State.
The Attorney General stated that a state delegation led by Senator Anietie Okon was despatched to the leadership of the Government of Cross River State, with a mandate to discontinue the judicial determination over the ownership of the 76 oil wells but the Cross River State was bent on going to the Supreme Court.
Ntekim said 'Despite the insistence of Cross River State on judicial determination of the ownership of the oil wells, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, in considerable appreciation of the historical and cultural ties that permanently bind both Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, wrote a letter ref. No. GO/AKS/S/45 on December 16 2010 to the President offering to pay a monthly grant N250 million ex gratis to Cross River State
'Regrettably this gesture at amicable resolution was, again, turned down by the Cross River State Government, which rather opted to continue court proceedings. Rather than accepting the offer made by Akwa Ibom State, Cross River Government continued to pursue her case at the Supreme Court and, rather surreptitiously, caused the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to arbitrarily deduct a total sum of over N18 billion from the derivation revenues of Akwa Ibom state for the period January 2008 to May 2012.
'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 revenue of Akwa Ibom State.
'It is instructive to note that the amount arbitrarily and illegally deducted for the period stated above accounts for more than twice the value of the derivation revenue from the 76 oil wells for the same period. These deductions of the statutory derivation revenues of Akwa Ibom State in favour of Cross River State contravenes section 162(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
'It also negates the brotherly gesture in the proposals canvassed in the letter of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State Ref: No. GH/AKS/S/87 dated January 28, 2011.'
Ntekim went further: 'As events turned out, the insistence of the leadership of Cross River state to have a judicial pronouncement on its claim to the 76 oil wells ultimately came to an end on July 10, 2012 with a dismissal of the said claim in its entirety.
'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 at causing a frosty relationship between the judicial officers of the Supreme Court.'
The Commissioner for Justice added that in 2005, Akwa Ibom state lost 24 villages of Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state to Cross River state in a Supreme Court judgement.
His words: 'We did not vilify the Supreme Court or the Cross River State Government. In 2011 the Supreme Court gave judgment in favor of River State over revenue derived from 86 off shore oil wells attributed to Akwa Ibom state. We did not attack the integrity of the Supreme Court nor did we incite the people of Akwa Ibom against the good people of Rivers state.
He further stated that 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 ancient bonds or intimidating and/or weakening the administration of justice, irrespective of occasion or euphemism.'