The Soku oil wells belong to Rivers State in line with a Supreme Court judgment, Governor Nyesom Wike has insisted.
He disagreed with his Bayelsa State counterpart Seriake Dickson, who said ownership of the oil fields was yet to be determined.
Wike said the Federal High Court judgment transferring Soku oil wells in Oluasiri, a disputed boundary, to Rivers State, validated a Supreme Court judgment on the matter.
Dickson, last Thursday, said the lower court judgment was contrary to the Supreme Court verdict, which he said directed the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to determine the land ownership.
According to the Bayelsa governor, the NBC constituted a Joint Technical Committee on the Bayelsa/Rivers Interstate Boundary to resolve the issue, but Rivers Deputy Governor withdrew.
“Bayelsa State is confident of its historical claim of ownership over the lands on which the Oilfields/Oil wells in issue are situated and had always expressed its willingness to fully participate in any joint delimitation and demarcation exercise in respect of the disputed boundary,” Dickson said.
But, Wike, at a briefing yesterday, said the Federal High Court confirmed the Supreme Court judgment.
Wike said the NBC admitted that it erroneously shifted the boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa states from River Santa Barbara to River Saint Batholomew in the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria.
Wike dismissed Dickson’s allegations as baseless.
He said: “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 Batholomew. At the Supreme Court, 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.”
Wike said seven years after the Supreme Court gave the order, the NBC was yet to effect the correction.
According to him, the preliminary report on the 12th Edition indicated that NBC did not attempt to obey the Supreme Court order.
“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 interest, adding 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.
“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 is a major construction site, the Bayelsa State governor has failed his people by refusing 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, according to him, Bayelsa State lacks good roads and basic infrastructure.
The governor alleged that Dickson refused to respect protocol when he visited the Amanyanabo of Kalabari without informing the Rivers State government.
“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 the 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 afoul of the law. I have no regrets about it.
“Anyone who runs afoul 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 said there was no oil war between Rivers State and Imo or Akwa Ibom states as claimed by Dickson.
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.
Wike said he still enjoys a good working relationship with the governors of Imo and Akwa Ibom states.
He said that through Dickson’s alleged poor leadership, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum and the PDP South-South Governors Forum failed.
Wike berated Dickson for claiming that he was interfering in Bayelsa politics.
He said that before Dickson became governor, it was Secondus and King Turner that brought him (Dickson) to receive his (Wike’s) support.
He said Dickson was never committed to the PDP all through the elections.
He said: “We are the only state in the Southsouth that President Muhammadu Buhari never got 25 per cent. Buhari got 45 per cent in Bayelsa State. So, who colluded with whom? Is it 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?
“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 (All Progressives Congress). Timipre Sylva and Heineken Lokpobiri blocked him. He knew I have strength, he would have consulted me. ”
Governor Wike said he is a good representative of Rivers as he uses their mandate effectively to develop it. He said in four and half years, he has achieved more for Rivers than Dickson did for Bayelsa in eight.
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.”
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ruled that Rivers owns the disputed Soku Oil Wells/Fields located in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Justice Inyang Ekwo declared that after examining all the documents from relevant Government agencies and facts before the court, the Soku Oil Wells/fields belong to Rivers.
The Federal High Court made an order compelling the NBC 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.