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Monday, 23 July 2012 00:00
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76 oil wells: Akwa Ibom seeks N18b from C’River

Following the July 10 Supreme Court judgement which finally ceded the 76 oil wells to it, the Akwa Ibom State Government has urged the Federal Government to ensure that Cross River refunds to it N18.4 billion being amount collected by the neighbouring state on the wells between January, 2008 and May, 2012.

Briefing journalists yesterday at the Government House, Uyo, Governor Godswill Akpabio said the N18.4 billion was Akwa Ibom’s derivation revenues from the 76 oil wells which were illegally and surreptitiously deducted by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) at the instance of the Cross River State Government.

The governor stressed that the N18 billion paid to Cross River State during the  period was not sourced from any ecological funds as erroneously represented by agents of the Cross River State Government, but from the statutory derivation revenue of Akwa Ibom State

Akpabio, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG),Umana Okon Umana, stated that even though the state government was not going to be confrontational in demanding for a refund of N18.4 billion from its sister state, he was sure that the relevant Federal Government agencies would ensure that Cross River refunds the money.

The governor said the decision of the state government to speak on the July 10 Supreme Court judgement became necessary in view of attempts by the leadership and agents of the Cross River State Government to discredit the ruling on the apex court on the matter and incite the people of Cross River against Akwa Ibom

“It has become necessary for the Government of Akwa Ibom State to respond to the series of campaigns of calumny, blackmail, incitements, organised public discourse, including state broadcast all aimed at denigrating the Supreme Court of Nigeria and its processes and possibly inciting the good people of Cross River State against their kith and kin of Akwa Ibom State on account of purported controversy over revenue from 76 offshore oil wells and the judgement of the Supreme Court thereon delivered on 10th July 2012,” Akpabio said.

Giving a background to the oil wells dispute, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ekpenyong Ntekim stated that the 76 oil wells have always belonged to Akwa Ibom State before they was erroneously handed over to Cross River State in 2005 by the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ntekim explained that the oil wells were handed back to Akwa Ibom State in 2008 following the judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which ceded Western Bakassi to the Republic of Cameroon, therefore, making Cross River to lose its littoral status.

The Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner stated further that with the ceding of Western Bakassi to Cameroon, Cross River became hemmed in and, therefore, could not have access to the 76 oil wells.

He said the state had sought ways to amicably resolve the problem which its sister state of Cross River rebuffed, adding even the N250 billion the Akwa Ibom State Government offered Cross River to cushion the effect of its losing the oil wells was also rejected.

Ntekim said it was not Akwa Ibom that took Cross River to the Supreme Court but the other way round, adding that it was rather unfortunate that Cross River lost the case.

“As a Government, we are alarmed and shocked by the highly temperamental pronouncements of the leadership and agents of the Cross River State government over the said judgement aimed at causing a frosty relationship between the peoples of the two states and demeaning the judicial officers of the Supreme Court,” Ntekim exclaimed.

He advised peace-loving Nigerians not to be deceived by the wave of propaganda and deceit against the Supreme Court ruling as the Akwa Ibom State Government will continue to operate within the provisions of the law.

“As a responsible government, we shall continue to maintain due process in matters of both law and government and refrain from actions capable of destroying the ancient bonds or intimidating and/or weakening the administration of justice, irrespective of the occasion or euphemism,” he added.

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