The Cross River Government has given reasons for rejecting the N250 million which the Akwa Ibom Government offered as monthly grant for settlement for the loss of 76 oil wells.
The government said on Friday in Calabar that it was a degrading offer which portrayed the leadership of Cross River as opportunistic and irresponsible.
The government’s position was disclosed by Attah Ochinke, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice at a press conference.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court had in recent judgement ceded 76 oil wells which Cross River laid claims to Akwa Ibom.
In the aftermath of the judgment, Gov. Godswwill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom had offered to pay Cross River N250 million as grant to cushion the pains of the loss.
In his reaction, Mr. Ochinke said it was not correct to say that Cross River rejected overtures for amicable settlement with Akwa Ibom.
“Akwa Ibom government said we rejected an amicable settlement. That is not correct; we rather went to court to enforce the settlement that had already been reached.
“The matter had been settled and agreement written and it was implemented for three years, so what has happened for the parties to now withdraw from that agreement?
“The government of Akwa Ibom said they offered us when the matter was in court, N250 million a month as a peaceful settlement on the matter.
“I do not know when the matter will be settled but I am very certain of one thing, if we do not recover the territory it is not because it does not belong to us, but because we are unable to recover the territory.
“If we were just chancing, if we were just being opportunistic and say look let us try our luck may be we might get something out of it, we will probably will accept anything that comes out of it including the offer from the government of Akwa Ibom.
“But you do not give up your legal right, give up your territory and make yourself an object of charity of another government.
“Akwa Ibom was virtually telling us: let us keep your oil wells, we will find you something. That is not what a responsible government will accept. That is why Akwa Ibom said that we rejected an amicably settlement.
“We already have settled the matter amicably, so if you want amicably settlement all you just needed to do is to respect the settlement that was already in place,’’ he said.
Ochinkesaid that the claims by Akwa Ibom that Cross River owed it more than N18 billion from the 76 oil wells was also baseless.
“Let me say this, at no time was Cross River receiving money from Akwa Ibom. At no time during this crisis was Akwa Ibom giving Cross River any money. Akwa Ibom has no money to collect from us.
“If they are so sure, let them be able to say this: how and where they gave Cross River money. And on the one hand they say they offered Cross River N250 million a month and we rejected it.
“And now they are turning round to say we owed them N18 billion; so at what time did they give us the money?
“Akwa Ibom is today an oil producing state because of the political solution, ordinarily Akwa Ibom is not an oil producing state, and they do not have a single oil well onshore.
“We also know that the Supreme Court in 2002 held that the offshore territory that is the territorial sea of Nigeria does not belong to the state,’’ Mr. Ochinke said.
He said that the territory of a state stops at the coast line of the state, adding that the sea belongs to the Federal Government as an incident of sovereignty.