Rivers wins as Supreme Court rules on disputed 17 oil wells

Supreme-Court

Rivers State floored Imo State at the Supreme Court on Friday over the disputed 17 oil wells.

The court in its judgement also ended the political arrangement on the sharing of revenue from the oil wells.

The apex court ruled that the oil wells located in Ndoni and Egbema communities belong to Rivers in its verdict.

The Supreme Court, had February 2022 fixed May 6 for judgment in the legal battle between Rivers and Imo states over the ownership of 17 oil wells in their territories.

The apex court fixed the date after taking arguments from lawyers to the parties.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who led a panel of justices of the apex court, fixed the date after the adoption of the final written addresses by the lawyers.

The plaintiff in the matter, represented by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Joseph Daudu (SAN), while adopting his final address, asked the apex court to give judgment in favour of Rivers State on the grounds that historical evidence right from 1927 till date clearly indicated that the oil wells belongs to the state.

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Daudu drew the attention of the Supreme Court to the boundary adjustment paper of 1976, where Ndoni and Egbema were confirmed to belong to Rivers State.

He disagreed with the Attorney-General of the Federation in his claim that adjudication in the suit ought not to have originated from the Supreme Court but a Federal High Court, because oral evidence ought to be taken from the people of the area.

Daudu said the Supreme Court had original jurisdiction and could conveniently use all available sufficient historical documents right from the colonial era to determine the real owners of the oil wells.

In his own arguments, counsel for Imo State, Chief Olusola Oke (SAN), asked the apex court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that it ought to have originated from the Federal High Court.

Oke claimed that because of the nature of the matter, oral evidence ought to be called from the people of the area to confirm where they actually belong.

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According to him, Rivers State ought not to have started the suit from the Supreme Court and he prayed the court to dismiss it.

In the same vein, counsel for the AGF, Dr Remi Olatubora (SAN), aligned himself with the position of Imo State to the effect that proper procedure for such a suit was not adopted by Rivers State.

He insisted that witnesses, including officials of the National Boundary Commission, the Surveyor-General of the Federation and indigenes of the disputed areas ought to be heard for the court to make appreciable and acceptable findings.

Although Olatubora claimed that the AGF was neutral in the matter, he, however, said scientific evidence must be considered along with open court hearing for the Supreme Court to make good findings.

Justice Ariwoola announced May 6, 2022 for judgment in the matter.

Details later…

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