Saturday, 22 April 2017
BAYELSA ASSEMBLY MOVES TO END NEMBE/KALABARI BOUNDARY DISPUTE , A WELCOME DEV.- By Evans Tubonah
Raising a motion on the sacred floor of the state Parliament, Hon. Iniyobiyo Obiene Representing Nembe Constituency 111, called on the House to wade into the matter to forestall further tension, insecurity and lose of lives and property in the area.
He cited some incidences of kidnap, razing of communities and attacks of law abiding citizens in the Oluasiri axis of Nembe in Bayelsa State. In the motion, Mr. Obiene stated that: ' one Charles was kidnapped along the Oluasiri waterways in December 2012, destruction and burning of Ijawkiri as well as attack of one Amaebite and others."
The Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kombowe Benson Friday, following a unanimous passage of the motion directed the deployment of security personnel to secure the volatile Oluasiri boundary area from external aggression and attacks.
The House decided to forward a letter to the National Assembly to prevail on the National Boundary Commission to without further delay mark out the boundary area between the two sister states to stop the crisis.
Hon. Obiene who moved the motion graphically explained the issues that demanded urgent attention thus:
"..Oluasiri, Robert kiri, Ekulema 1, Ekulema11, and... border communities...that are in volatile area, prone to threats and attacks from their Rivers State neighbours even in the presence of security men deployed to the area by their government."
It would be recalled that the Ibenyanaowei of Oluasiri, His Royal Highness, King Iyerite Chiefson Awululu, Olua 1 had in an interview with MIKE ODIEGWU spoke on the crisis in this wise:-
"...the name Soku became famous because of the LNG Gas Plant. The plant is at the centre of Oluasiri land in Nembe and it has been in contention for 20 years?.." King Awululu said a drive from the plant to Soku is about 22 minutes, and that Soku is very close to Degema and Abonema.
King Awululu used the medium to inform the general public that it was amply wrong for Shell to have named the LNG gas plant after Soku which is a distant community from where the plant is truly located, which is Oluasiri in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, King Awululu emphasized .
Explaining further the errors of the Oil company, Shell, the King of Oluasiri has this to say:
" It was named with bias and out of misinformation. The people who did the exploration and exploitation came to survey the land and lay pipes to determine the volume of oil in the ground. As they came with their houseboat, they looked for a place...Soku that is very far from the place was chosen. They kept their houseboat close to Soku and used small boats to do their exploration.
He clarified that:-
"They came to Oluasiri and discovered this oil. But because of their friendship with Soku or for whatever reason they called the oil well in their survey document Soku..."
King Awululu pointed out this wrongful attitude of naming oil wells in communities after distant communities instead of communities the oil wells were found, he cited the case of Oloibiri oil well which was found in Otu Ogidi community and located there, while it is named after Oloibiri, the Ibenyanaowei of Oluasiri posited .
Going back memory lane, King Awululu spoke extensively on the boundary disputes between Kalabari and Nembe thus:-
"There were a series of cases between Kalabari and Nembe even before that gas plant. We had boundary cases 1913 and 1918. There were also Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court judgements.."
He said, while Nembe and Kalabari were all in Rivers State, boundary crisis erupted which led to the constitution of a Commission of Enquiry, popularly called the ' Justice Akere Judicial Commission of Enquiry..." which he said released a whitepaper but regretted that the demarcation of the boundary that had been a far cry over the period was not done, because as he puts it, the National Boundary Commission did not respond to the cry of the people. Hear him:-
"But from 1992 till now, neither the National Boundary Commission which should have demarcated a boundary between Akuku Toru and Nembe did what they were supposed to do." King Awululu further stated.
After the creation of Bayelsa State out of Rivers, it was expedient for the National Boundary Commission to have completed the process of State creation by delineating the inter state boundary between the two states, to stop disaffection and crisis, observers have noted with concern over the awesome failure of the Commission.
It has been a troubled water between Rivers and Bayelsa States because of this nonchalance by the Federal Boundary Authority, which occasioned unwarranted litigations between the two states, Rivers always on the offensive, but in all the cases from the Federal High Court to the Supreme Court, Rivers State Government, the complainant lost it all.
That Rivers State Government who stood for Akuku Toru Local Government Area for Soku lost to Bayelsa who stood for Nembe Local Government was attributed to the solid and undisputable facts put together by the latter.
Whereas the former governor of Rivers State, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, now Transport Minister was trying to politicise the clear boundary issue went to the press and asserted that Bayelsa won in the courts because president Jonathan was a Bayelsan, instead of going out with cconvincing evidence, was a misinformation.
But the Bayelsa State Government did not relent but came out with reliable historical facts as follows:-
"1. The Rivers State Government ... filed two suits against the Bayelsa State Government at the Federal High Court and the Supreme Court respectively in order to assert it's purported ownership over the said oil wells/oil fields and woefully failed as the said suits were all struck-out by the courts.
"2. Soku is a village in Rivers State while the oil wells/oil fields and the flow station are located in the Oluasiri Clan in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. The name Soku oil wells/oil fields was wrongly given by Shell Petroleum Development Company Ltd ( SPDC) since soku was their operational base at that time. This is not peculiar to Soku. For example, the Idu oil wells/oil field is named after a town in Ekpeye land in Ahoada East LGA of Rivers Stayed while the oil field is actually located in Biseni land of Bayelsa State. Similarly, the Omoku west oil field is in Biseni land of Bayelsa State but Omoku is a town in Rivers State.
"3. The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in it's report on the Familiarization/Verification visit to oil producing states, volume 1, Main Report August 2006 in Chapter 3, page 30 also acknowledged the above anomaly.....
"4. Incidentally, Soku village in RIvers is about 10km, as the crow flies, from the flow station while the Oluasiri /Soku oil wells/field station is surrounded by various Oluasiri villages of Nembe LGA in Bayelsa State...."
The judgement by the Supreme Court titled: THE SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT ON SOKU MADE EASY-BY FORTUNE GOD'sSON Alfred
Before anything, let me remind us that Rivers State was the (Plaintiff) one that went to the Supreme Court. Let me also remind us that Rivers State Government earlier took Bayelsa State Government to the Federal High Court on this same issue and lost. And instead of following the normal appellate process via the Appeal Court, the Rivers State Government instead invoked constitutional provisions and filed a suit in the Supreme Court in 2011 and this year, precisely on Tuesday, the 10th day of July, 2012, the Supreme Court delivered it's judgement and struck out her case for lack of evidence....
SULEIMAN GALADIMA, J.S.C (Delivering the Leading Judgement):
Now to the merit of the Plaintiff, by the institution of this suit, challenges the allocation of revenue to the 1st Defendant by the 2nd Defendant from oil proceeds to the Federation Account from Soku Oil Wells/Fields. In other words his contention is that Soku Oil Wells/Fields are located in Rivers State. This contention is based on the premise that the boundary between the Plaintiff and the Ist Defendant States is the Santa Barbara River. On the other hand, the 1st Defendant asserts that the same Soku Oil Wells/Fields which he (1st Defendant) referred to as Oluasiri Oil Wells/Fields are located in Bayelsa State because the boundary between the 1st Defendant and the Plaintiff is the San Bartholomew River.
"We do not require copious formulation of issues by the parties to resolve the case. The sole issue is the actual location of Soku Oil Wells/Fields (as called by the Plaintiff) or Oluasiri Oil Wells/Fields (as called by the 1st Defendant States is. Is it Santa Barbara River as claimed by the Plaintiff or San Bartholomew River as claimed by the 1st Defendant?..."
Identifying boundary delineation as the crux of the matter, it was the apex Court's conclusion that it was the role of the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to determine, hence the matter was struck out.
This justifies the action of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, calling on the National Assembly to intervene on the matter to stop further tension and destruction of lives and properties between the two brotherly states, which most Bayelsans described as a welcome development.