Rivers state not intimidated by President Jonathan over disputed oil community

Goodluck Jonathan

Rivers and Bayelsa states at war over oil community.


Nov.2 (PREMIUM TIMES) — The Rivers State government has said it will not pander to intimidations by the president by giving up ownership of an oil community in dispute between the state and President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state, Bayesla.

The government said this on Friday in a statement reacting to another statement issued earlier by its neighbouring Bayelsa state government and the Presidency.

“The Rivers State Government wishes to state that it has and will continue to accord the highest respect to the person and office of His Excellency, the President, but will never ever submit to any attempt, as is being orchestrated now, to be intimidated in its responsibility of preserving the property and resources that rightly belong to the people of Rivers State,” Ibim Semenitari, the state’s information commissioner said.

Rivers and Bayelsa states are at loggerheads over derivation proceeds from a Kalabari community sharing boundaries with Nembe in Bayelsa state.

The River state government claims that portion was originally part of its territory until an error by the National boundary commission in the 11th edition of Nigeria’s administrative boundaries which ceded the disputed portion to Bayelsa state.

“The 11th edition of the administrative map, clandestinely prepared by the National boundary Commission and the Federal Surveyor General’s office in 1999, but published in 2000, strangely shifted the boundaries between Rivers and Bayelsa states from the initial boundary between Kalabari and Nembe, west of the Santa Barbara River, to San Bartholomew River, contrary to the delineation by all preceding administrative maps of Nigeria and all historical records,” the information commissioner said.

Ms. Semeniari said that in a letter dated July 3, 2002, the Director General, National Boundary Commission acknowledged the error and apologized.

She added that a Supreme Court judgment placed derivation claims from the oil wells in the community in an escrow account pending when the boundary commission corrects the error it admitted in the 11th edition of the administrative map of Nigeria.

But recently, the money contained in the account was released to the Bayelsa state government fuelling the current dispute.

“Why would the accruals from the disputed wells which have been kept in escrow all these years to await the final resolution of the matter be suddenly paid to Bayelsa state just recently?” Ms.Semenitari asked?

The tussle between the states also precipitated protests by Kalabari National Forum in Port Hacourt and Abuja.

On Tuesday, the Bayelsa State Government issued a press statement condemning the protest describing it as “malicious and unconstitutional intent to balkanize and excise oil producing communities in Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State and annexing them to be part of Bayelsa State.”

The Presidency also issued a statement distancing itself from the tussle.

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