Vanguard (Lagos)

31 January 2013

Nigeria: Disputed Oil Wells - Rivers Pulls Out of Peace Talk With Bayelsa

Yenagoa — Rivers State Government, yesterday, pulled out of the peace talk with Bayelsa State Government aimed at resolving the disputed oil wells on the border towns of Oluasiri and Kula communities of the two states.

Rivers State Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru, who led the state delegation, accused Federal Government agencies, including National Boundary Commission, NBC, of bias and gave three conditions for acceptable resolution of the conflict.

Engr. Ikuru, who spoke, yesterday, in Yenagoa at the joint meeting of officials of the Bayelsa/Rivers Interstate Boundary, said though the state had approached a court of law and procured reasonable judgment, the decision of NBC and Accountant-General of the Federation to release the revenue proceeds from the oil wells to Bayelsa, was a clear case of injustice.

Ikuru argued that to continue to allow Bayelsa State take full benefit of the revenue proceeds from the disputed wells while NBC was in the middle of the delineation exercise, was unjust and unacceptable to the state.

He said: "Under the circumstances, the commitment to speedy and transparent resolution of this potentially volatile and protracted boundary issue cannot be guaranteed.

"Rivers State has strongly argued that the most effective and transparent way to make all parties genuinely focused on the settlement bid was the immediate intervention of the Federal Government by directing the payment of all revenue proceeds from the disputed oil wells into an Escrow Account under the Accountant General of the Federation.

"To direct that all withdrawals hitherto made from and given to Bayelsa from the erstwhile Escrow Account maintained by the two state governments be returned; to direct the return to status quo with regard to the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria, as reiterated by the National Boundary Commission vide its letter no. NBC SEC.4/s/75 July 3, 2002 addressed by the Governor of Rivers State."

Ikuru accused the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Mr. Richard Egele, of alleged secret meetings with indigenes of Kula community in Rivers State to lay claim to being indigenes of Bayelsa State.

The meeting could not continue as Ikuru announced the withdrawal of Rivers delegation from further deliberation and participation in any joint delimitation and demarcation exercise in respect of the boundary until their demands were met.

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