Abuja — The Cross River State Govermment has applied to the Supreme Court not to proceed to deliver judgment in the case it filed against Akwa Ibom State in which it claimed that 76 oil wells transferred to Akwa Ibom State by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) belonged to it.
In an application it filed last Thursday by its lawyer, Yusuf Ali, SAN, Cross River said that the map submitted by Akwa Ibom State to the Supreme Court was doctored and did not represent the true position of Nigeria-Cameroun Joint Commission. The state said the map which is the likely premise for the court's verdict is an illegality which should not be relied upon to decide the dispute between the two states.
The state is asking the court to expunge the map which was attached to the affidavit deposed to by Alhaji Bashir Shettima of the National Boundary Commission from the proceedings of the court as an exhibit because it did not represent the true state of affairs.
It also asked the court to issue an order to summon Shettima for cross examination as to why he gave evidence in favour of Akwa Ibom given that he is a federal government employee, contrary to the official position of his employer, the National Boundary Commission. It said that NBC had in several letters affirmed the right of Cross River State to the oil wells in dispute only for Shetima to depose to an affidavit that stated the contrary.
Cross River is also asking the court to issue an order to compel former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, as a witness so that he could give evidence on the advice he gave in 2006 that formed the foundation of the political solution agreed upon by the parties which was later reduced into an agreement.
The state asked the court for an order compelling the current Attorney General of the Federation to produce in court for use by it the written advice given by Chief Bayo Ojo in his capacity as AGF in 2006, as well as the minutes of the meeting of October 27, 2006, which formed the foundation of the political solution agreed upon by the parties.
Cross River said that it had not been able to obtain the said minutes.
"Alhaji Bashir Shettima fraudulently concealed the fact that the map attached to his evidence was not an authoritative map but was merely a sketch and proposal made by the NBC and was never approved by the Federal Government," a statement issued by Cross River said.
"Shettima fraudulently concealed from the court that the map was made without the input of the Surveyor General of the Federation, the authority empowered to delineating boundaries within Nigeria."
It said that the evidence given by Shettima has compromised Nigeria's territorial integrity and security as well as the country's position with respect to the on-going maritime boundary negotiations between Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and the Republic of Cameroun.
The apex court has already reserved judgment in the case. Cross River state dragged Akwa Ibom state and the federal government to the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, transferring the 76 oil wells which originally belonged to it to the Akwa Ibom State Government.
Ali had urged the court to compel both the Federal Government and the Akwa Ibom State to pay it N15.5 billion being the 13 per cent derivation that ought to have been paid to the state since November 2009 to 10 March, 2010.
According to Cross River state, the N15.5 billion is made up of N9.2 billion for the state and N6.3 billion for the local government councils of the state. The state asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government from excluding it from its entitlement to 13 per cent derivation in relation to the sharing of revenue from the Federation Accounts as a littoral state, based on the 76 oil wells which it claimed had earlier been attributed to it.
Ali contended that following a boundary dispute between Cross River and the Akwa Ibom State, that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, summoned the two states and amicably resolved the dispute for the two states. He argued that upon a demarcation of the boundary dispute between the two states, 90 oil wells were found to be in the territory of Cross River State.
"By negotiation however, for the sake of peace, 14 of these oil wells in the territory of Cross River State, were attributed to Akwa Ibom state for the purpose of application of derivation. Akwa Ibom state received and still receives revenue on derivation for the 14 oil wells which are physically in the territory of Cross River state but which are attributed to Akwa Ibom. This benefit is sequel to the boundary settlement between the two states which Akwa Ibom now seeks to rescind or renege on".
However, Akwa Ibom state, represented by Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice under whose tenure in office the first phase of the handing over of a section of the Bakassi Peninsula was relinquished by Nigeria to Cameroun took place, told the court that Cross River which used to be a littoral state when the Bakassi Peninsula was part of Nigeria, lost that status with the handing over of the Peninsula to Cameroun and contended that Cross River was no longer entitled to receive 13 per cent derivation revenue.
He explained that "By virtue of the judgment of the International Court of Justice, Cross State became landlocked and no part of its territory lay or lies contiguous to the sea. Cross River qualified as a littoral state because it had access to the sea through Bakassi Peninsula and the estuarine part of the body of water (inland waters) called cross river. Bakassi Peninsula lies contiguous to the sea while the Cross River estuary empties into the sea. The fact of Bakassi Peninsula and the Cross River estuary being part of Cross River State was the sole qualification and basis for Cross River state being adjudged as a Nigerian Littoral State prior to the ICJ judgment."