Rivers, Bayelsa renew hostilities over Soku oil well
Rivers and Bayelsa have renewed hostilities over ownership of the Soku oil fields reportedly situated in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area and the revenue accruing from it.
The Federal High Court in December 2019 declared the oil wells belonged to Rivers and ordered the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to pay revenue from the oil fields to Rivers.
Bayelsa Governor Douye Diri faulted the payment of the Soku revenue to Rivers and appealed the judgement.
But Wike on Tuesday disagreed with him, describing Diri’s call to halt the ongoing remittance of Soku’s revenue to Rivers as unfortunate.
Wike, who spoke when a delegation of RMAFC led by Alhaji Mohammed Usman visited him in Government House, Port Harcourt, insisted the oil wells belonged to Rivers and urged RMAFC to continue paying the revenue to the state.
Wike said: “It is unfortunate that the Bayelsa State Governor told you when you visited him that you should not pay us revenue from Soku Oil Well.
“The matter was at the Supreme Court when the National Boundary Commission admitted that they made an error in their 11th edition publication by situating Soku Oil Well in Bayelsa State.
“They were therefore, directed to correct the error in their 12th edition publication. When they also failed to effect the correction, we had to go back to the Federal High Court.
“The court, in its wisdom directed that all revenue accruing from Soku Oil Well should be paid to Rivers State.
“That is the position. For Bayelsa State Governor to come up to say that you should not pay us our money is unfortunate. If they have filed a matter at the Supreme Court, it is not an injunction to stop the implementation of the subsisting judgement”.
The governor advocated a new revenue sharing formula that would make the states get more money for development.
Wike argued States bore more development burdens than the Federal Government and would require more money to cater to the needs of the people.
“There cannot be a Federal Government without the States. So, we advocate a new revenue formula that should take more revenue out of the Federal Government and given to the States.
“This is because the burden is more on the States than the Federal Government. So, the states should have more revenue to cater for the people,” he said.
The governor commended the commission for taking the bold step to correct fraudulent practices adopted by some States to gain financial advantage.
But Diri, who received a similar delegation in Government House, Yenagoa, flayed deductions of the state revenue by RAMFC in favour of Rivers despite the pending appeal.
He said the action was tantamount to ceding of Bayelsa territory indirectly to Rivers and called on the commission to revisit its decision until the apex court gave a final verdict on the boundary dispute between both states.
He lamented the action had significantly affected the state’s allocation for September.
He said: “The action by the commission is tantamount to ceding a part of Bayelsa State to Rivers State, which can breach the peace between both sister states.
“I will still appeal to your chairman and members of your commission to revisit this deduction from the monthly allocation of Bayelsa. I have in this regard written letters to the President, the Vice President, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Accountant General. I will follow it up by visiting their offices.
“We want to explore a peaceful method. But what the commission has done can degenerate the peace that we are having between these sister states. I don’t think that my people from Oluasiri in Nembe and all of us from Bayelsa will accept ceding any parts of our territories to anybody.
“So, what your commission has done is indirectly ceding our territories to Rivers state and that is totally unacceptable to us as a people and a state.”