Supreme Court Scolds National Boundary Commission Over Oilfield Tussle

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday scolded the National Boundary Commission for unilaterally delineating boundaries between Rivers State and Bayelsa State. The two states are locked in a bitter dispute over the ownership of Soku oilfield.

The apex court says the boundary commission cannot unilaterally delineate boundaries between the two states after its judgment on the matter. The court also dismissed an objection to the suit raised by the Commission because it lacked merit.

Already, the court has struck out a suit filed by the Bayelsa State Government over the disputed Soku oilfield belonging to Rivers.

The apex court ruled by seeking for it to make Judicial pronouncement on a matter that the Court of Appeal has not even ruled on, the Bayelsa state government was liable of abuse of court processes.

The state government had approached the apex court after a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered it to refund the 13 percent derivation it had received over the years from disputed Soku oilfield to Rivers.

At the resumed hearing of the matter this Tuesday, Justice Ngwuta, who led a panel of seven justices, wondered why the Bayelsa decided to file a suit at the apex court, whereas steps were being taken to challenge the judgment of the Federal High Court at the Court of Appeal.

Justice Ngwuta observed that the Bayelsa was jumping the gun and its action was tantamount to abuse of court process. He asserted that there was no way the apex court can make a pronouncement on a judgment that was given by a Federal High Court when the appellate court has not done so.

He 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 the basis that the counsel to the state government, Kemsauode Wodu, applied for a formal withdrawal of the suit and it was struck out by the Supreme Court.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, while delivering judgement in Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/984/19, filed by Attorney-General of Rivers against the National Boundary Commission, based on documents from relevant government agencies, had declared that the Soku oilfields belong to Rivers.

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,was a breach of 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 and the Accountant General of the Federation in the computation of revenue accruable to Rivers from the Federation Account has resulted in the continued unjust denial of derivation funds accruing from the Soku oil wells situate within Rivers to the detriment of the state government.

Justice 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.

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