30 January 2013

Nigeria: Soku/Oluasiri Oil Wells - Rivers Govt Withdraws From Peace Meeting

The Rivers Government on Wednesday withdrew its participation from the Interstate Boundary Delineation meeting, citing injustice.

Rivers Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru, who led the state delegation to the peace meeting in Yenagoa, aimed at resolving the disputed Soku/Oluasiri oil well boundary with neighboring Bayelsa, announced its withdrawal from further negotiation process.

He stated that the Rivers government had in the interest of peace, equity and justice, resorted to the court for a peaceful resolution of the disputed Soku/ Oluasiri oil fields.

"In the interest of peace, fairness, equity and justice, the Rivers State Government resorted to the courts, " Ikuru said.

Ikuru said the National Boundary Commission (NBC), under the constitution, has the responsibility to determine the disputed boundary before deciding on the appropriation of derivable resources accrued from the disputed oil wells.

He, however, expressed concern that "presently, Bayelsa state is unilaterally enjoying the full benefits of all revenue accruing from Soku oil fields, which is in dispute."

According to Ikuru, the two states in 2007, had reached an agreement that the revenue from the Soku field should be kept in an escrow account pending the determination of the boundaries by the NBC.

He expressed concern that Bayelsa Government had continued to benefit from the revenue proceeds of the disputed oil wells, while the NBC was still handling the delineation exercise.

The Director-General of NBC, Dr. Muhammad Ahmad, said in a response that the technical reports from the two states were acceptable, just as he wondered why the Rivers Government was pulling out of the process.

He said that President Goodluck Jonathan had mandated the commission to resolve the lingering issue in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling.

Deputy Governor of Bayelsa, Retired Rear Adm John Jonah, in his remarks, expressed displeasure over the pull out.

"We are seated here today to ensure that conflict is settled. It is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. It makes things easier," Jonah said.

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