The Supreme Court, yesterday, struck out a suit filed by the Bayelsa State Government over the disputed Soku oilfield belonging to Rivers State.
The apex court said the Bayelsa State Government by seeking the nullification of the judgment of the Federal High Court, delivered in favour of Rivers State, when the Court of Appeal has not even ruled on the matter, was an abuse of court process and forum-shopping.
It would be recalled that the Bayelsa State Government had filed Suit: SC/CV/649/2020 through its Attorney General against the Attorney General of the Federation and Attorney General of Rivers State, after the Federal High Court in Abuja, had ordered it to refund the 13 percent derivation it had received over the years from Soku oilfield, to Rivers State.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who led a panel of seven justices to hear the suit, yesterday, wondered why the Bayelsa State Government decided to file the suit at the apex court, whereas steps were being taken to challenge the judgment of the Federal High Court at the Court of Appeal.
Ngwuta observed that the Bayelsa State Government was jumping the gun and its action was tantamount to abuse of court process.
He asserted that there was no way the Supreme Court could make pronouncement on a judgment that was given by a Federal High Court when the appellate court has not done so.
Ngwuta explained that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction on a matter relating to a High Court.
To this end, he directed the Bayelsa State Government to take its grievances to the Court of Appeal.
It was on that basis that the counsel to the Bayelsa State Government, Kemsauode Wodu, applied for a formal withdrawal of the suit, and it was struck out by the Supreme Court.
It would be recalled that Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, while delivering judgment in Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/984/19, filed by the Attorney-General of Rivers State against the National Boundary Commission, based on documents from relevant government agencies, had declared that the Soku oilfield belongs to Rivers State.
Ekwo had noted that the failure and refusal of the National Boundary Commission to rectify the admitted mistake in the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria since 2002, which erroneously showed St. Batholomew River instead of River Santa Barbara as the interstate boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa states, was a breach of the commission’s statutory duty and flagrant disobedience of the order of the Supreme Court contained in its judgment delivered on 10/7/2012 in Suit Number SC.106 /2009.
The judge explained that the continued reliance on the said defective 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria by the other government agencies/statutory bodies, particularly, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the Accountant General of the Federation in the computation of revenue accruable to Rivers State from the Federation Account, has resulted in the continued unjust denial of derivation funds accruing from the Soku oil wells situate within Rivers State to the detriment of the government and people of the state.
Ekwo, then directed that notice be served of the decision of the court on the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation.
The judge said that the National Boundary Commission cannot unilaterally delineate boundaries between Rivers and Bayelsa states after the Supreme Court judgment on the matter, and also dismissed an objection to the suit raised by the National Boundary Commission because it lacked merit.
RSG Kick-Starts Another Phase Of Projects’ Commissioning, Today
The Rivers State Government will, today, continue another week-long scheduled commissioning of mega projects with significant socio-economic impact on the people as part of its policy to bequeath world-class infrastructures to jump-start the sustainable development of the state.
A statement in Port Harcourt, last Friday, signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, read in full, “Rivers State Government will enter the fifth phase of projects’ commissioning within four months with the inauguration of Rumuji-Ibaa-Obele-Isiokpo Road cutting across Emohua and Ikwerre Local Governments on Monday, March 8, 2021.
“The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Akin Dare, will commission the second phase of the Real Madrid Football Academy on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.
“It will be the turn of Omuhuechi-Omuoko-Omuokiri Road in Ikwerre Local Government Area on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
“Activities for the week will be rounded off on Friday, March 12, 2021 with the commissioning of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Secretariat.
“All Covid-19 protocols will be strictly observed at all venues”, the commissioner added, just as he urged people of goodwill in the state to join the government in the celebration of an era of good governance and the delivery of quality projects designed to restore the Garden City status of Port Harcourt while making the whole state tourists and investors’ destination of first choice in Nigeria.
Already, one of the projects, the Real Madrid Football Academy (RMFA), has not only been rated the first of its kind in Africa, but its pioneer admission process has been over-subscribed by candidates from across Nigeria, and indeed, sub-Saharan Africa.
Tension As Army Redeploys 100 Generals, Others
The Nigerian Army has announced the redeployment and posting of over 100 senior officers with a charge to remain absolutely loyal to the Constitution of the nation.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, yesterday, said that the massive shake-up was in line with the bid to re-position the Nigerian Army for optimal performance, adding that all postings and appointments take effect from March 10, 2021.
According to the statement, “the NA has released postings and appointments of some affected senior officers. The posting, which was approved by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, is a normal routine aimed at re-invigorating the system”.
Some of the appointments include: Major General A.S. Maikobi from Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) to Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command and appointed Commander; Major-General D.C. Onyemulu from Armed Forces Simulation Centre to Special Task Force (Operation SAFE HAVEN) and appointed Commander; Major-General S.A. Yaro from Nigerian Army Welfare Limited by Guarantee to Nigerian Defence Academy as Commandant; Major-General L.A. Adegboye from Headquarters 82 Division to Defence Headquarters and appointed Chief of Defence Training and Operations.
“Major General O.I. Uzamere from Army Headquarters Department of Army Logistics to Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre and appointed Commander; Major-General O.F. Azinta from Defence Headquarters to Army Headquarters Department of Army Training and appointed Chief of Training; Major-General J.B. Olawumi to remain in Defence Headquarters and appointed Chief of Defence Logistics.”
“Similarly, Major General K.I. Mukhtar from Depot Nigerian Army to Nigerian Army School of Infantry and appointed Commandant; Major General D.H. Ali-Keffi from Defence Intelligence Agency to Headquarters 1 Division and appointed General Officer Commanding; Major General T.A. Lagbaja from Army Headquarters Department of Training and Operations to Headquarters 82 Division and appointed General Officer Commanding; Major General S. Dahiru from Army Headquarters Department of Transformation and Innovation to Army Headquarters Garrison and appointed Commander; Major General U.A. Yusuf from ECOWAS to Headquarters 8 Division and appointed General Officer Commanding.
Approve Not Less Than 10% For Host Communities In PIB, Wike Tells NASS
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has advocated not less than 10 per cent fund allocation to host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that is still before the National Assembly.
Wike said it is also necessary that the bill state in clear terms what specific development projects that the allocated fund should be spent on, so that development of host communities can be truly actualised.
The governor gave the charge when the members of the National Assembly Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill, visited him at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike stated that oil bearing communities have suffered the loss of their livelihood, good drinking water and their socio-cultural life disrupted because of the insensitivity of the International Oil companies (IOCs).
“It is unfortunate that people produce oil but they live in poverty. I believe that this Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) committee will make recommendation of how certain percent must be given to the host oil communities.
“There are issues of education and health. Don’t just say 10 per cent to the oil host communities. It must be tied to specific projects so that whoever is in charge will know.
“Let it also not be that host community people will have this money, and you begin to see assassinations among themselves.
“I have found out that part of the problem we have in communities is that they allow these oil companies to divide them. They cause crisis among them; divide and rule. That is the pattern of IOCs, particularly Shell.”
According to the governor, the mistakes found with the act establishing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should be avoided because it did not specify what projects the commission should embark on in the Niger Delta.
“This same thing that has happened to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should not happen to the issues of host communities in PIB.
“If in the NDDC Act, they were able to tie the money that will be coming to specific projects, it would have developed the people of Niger Delta. And you won’t be having people fainting at the National Assembly.
“NDDC will leave their job and begin to buy vehicles for police, Army, and asphalting barracks. Is it what NDDC is meant to do? That is where we have lost it!”
Speaking further, the governor emphasised the need for the bill, when passed, to be signed, and not go the way of the Electoral Act amendment bill that the president refused to assent to.
“I hope this bill will also not be like the Electoral Act, after you pass it, they’ll keep it for months. Later they’ll say they can’t assent to it.
“Then, the Presidency will throw it back to you, and you will keep quiet. That will then show that what you’re doing is only for the interest of your party, and not the interest of Nigerians.
“Otherwise, you’ll insist that it is signed. I hope you’ll have the courage to do what is right, and this is the time that Nigerians require you to be strong, firm and do what will move this country forward.”
In his speech, the Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly Committee, who led the delegation, Hon Victor Nwokolo Onyemaechi, said the committee was in Rivers State to have town hall meeting with stakeholders to resolve issues of what should be allocated to host communities in the PIB.
“A lot of people have been misinformed about the issue of host communities. Some have said that host communities are related to hostility of the producing communities. But what we have seen today, and in the last four days, have shown to be negative. It has proved negative in the sense that we walked round over 800 meters about three days ago, and they saw that even in dry season, we have to use wood as bridge to get to where Shell is exploring oil and making all their money.
“They also saw the impact of Shell operations to people’s means of livelihoods, where their farmland and palm trees were burnt to ashes. They can feel it and they can see it.
“Today is not a different story. What we saw today is that a community that is known for fishing, as their means of livelihood, has been brought to a standstill. The boats were there, over 40, 50 boats, lying idle because their water has been fully polluted”, he added.
The chairman also commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the rapid infrastructural transformation ongoing in Rivers State.
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