Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Oil Wells - Amaechi Blackmailing Jonathan, Dickson Says

The Bayelsa State Government has accused Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi of distorting the facts on Soku oil wells in order to blackmail President Goodluck Jonathan.

It also accused Amaechi, who recently defected to the opposition All Progressives' Congress (APC), of using Soku to incite the Kalabaris in Rivers State against their Nembe kinsmen in Bayelsa.

Bayelsa state Governor Seriake Dickson, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the controversy on Soku had long been resolved by the Supreme Court, the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and several presidential committees.

The statement said Amaechi was now bringing it up just to grab media attention and score cheap political points.

Iworiso-Markson said Amaechi was aware that Soku was merely a name adopted by Shell, being its nearest operations base at the time, and not necessarily the location of the oil wells.

This, he said, has been attested to by the NBC as well as a committee set up in October 2000 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, and headed by Maj. Gen. A. B. Mamman (rtd).

"It should be noted that while the Kalabaris of Rivers State call the area Soku, the Nembe people of Bayelsa State call it Oluasiri which is one of the councils mentioned in paragraph 5 of the the Eastern Region Local Government Law, 1955 E.R. NO 26 of 1955.

"In the light of the above, it is recommended that the production from Soku Oil Field be attributed to Bayelsa State," he said.

The statement held that it was the reports that paved the way for Bayelsa to apply for the monies that had been placed in an escrow account when Amaechi approached the Supreme Court.

"From July 2004, the Revenue Commission officially attributed the Oluasiri (Soku) Oil well to Bayelsa State and the amount of N7,292,218,892 was subsequently released from the ESCROW account to Bayelsa State on 19th March 2007 during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo," it said.

The government said the application for a refund of N17, 405, 702, 164.34 was made during the administration of President Umar Yar'Adua, on the reconciliation on Nimbe South oil field in Bayelsa State and was found by RMAFC to be true.

The statement said Amaechi failed to disclose that Rivers State made a similar claim on Nda and Okwori oil wells from Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Delta states, and got a refund of N17.5 billion.

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