The South South region may be headed for war if the threat by some Kalabari chiefs, from Rivers State, alleging that President Goodluck Jonathan is plotting to handover oil wells belonging to them is anything to go by.
Speaking with newsmen yesterday after submitting protest letters to the National Boundary Commission, some stakeholders and traditional rulers, under the aegis of Kalabari National Forum, said they were in Abuja to protest against what they called ‘malicious and unconstitutional intent to balkanise and excise oil producing communities in Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State and annex same to Bayelsa State.’
A chieftain of the group, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, said that with over 300,000 barrels of oil being produced from the communities, the Rivers community were ready to shed the their last blood to protect their ‘heritage.’
Speaking earlier, Chief Emmanuel Awoyesuku-Jack, Chairman of Akukutoru Local Government Traditional Council, who spoke on behalf of the group, pointedly accused Mr. President of plotting to claim the oil wells, saying if the dispute over the region in question had been going on since Jonathan was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State, and was only being intensified now that Jonathan is the President and Commander -in-Chief.
He said that at the centre of the dispute are the oil and gas revenue emanating from communities, especially those from the Soku, Robert Kiri, Ekulama and Santa Barbara Oil Fields, which, he said, by constitution and history, are domiciled in Kalabari Territory in Rivers State. He warned that any manipulation and arm-twisting would create reason for lawlessness, a situation the kingdom was trying to avoid.
“We know who are behind this and we are here to protest so that the whole world will hear. We don’t want the region to boil because it boiled before and it will boil if nothing is done,” he said. If it is the oil wells they are looking for they will not get it. They should leave us alone, we cannot just stand by and watch because one cannot stay in his house and somebody would come and block him out. We have kept quiet too long and we cannot keep quiet again, it is time for action,” the monarch said.
Asked who the brain behind the matter was, Chief Jack explained that “the matter started in 2001, at that time DSP Alamiesagha was the governor of Bayelsa state and Goodluck Jonathan was the deputy. Goodluck Jonathan was the chairman of the Bayelsa state boundary commission; we all know that the deputy governor is in charge of boundary. And then Goodluck Jonathan became governor of Bayelsa state, he became vice President and today is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You will appreciate when I said the powers behind this.
“This matter started in 2001 and as peace loving people we opted for the option of the court, approaching the court to have our matter resolved and so I will say that is what kept us waiting and then the ruling was given in July 2012, so you can agreed with me that we were not keeping quiet and that something kept us. What kept us as a matter of fact is the fact that as peace loving people we decided to explore a normal peaceful process that is by going to court.
“At the end of the day the Supreme Court told us that the NBC has not completed its assignment and that it should go back and complete the assignment and that the case of Rivers state was premature. Now we are left at the mercy of the NBC, the commission sometimes ago apologize for a wrong move, the same commission that promised to redress or revise the wrong, the same commission that has not done anything since then, even acknowledging that there was an error is going to correct the error, the error is still being carried off and now it is even going to be worse,” he said.
Fielding questions from journalists, former minister, Chief Alabo Tonye Graham Douglas who was among the monarchs said, “We will do everything to ensure that there is no violence and we will do everything to contain our people. We are discipline people, but we will not want to be overstretched to a point of the elasticity…and what we are advocating is equity, justice and fair play in the governance of our great country, to preserve its unity and stability. Government should keep the status quo as was established by the colonial masters.”