President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday commenced a mediation process in the feud among Enugu, Anambra and Kogi states over the ownership of oil wells.
Jonathan held a mediatory meeting with the feuding states at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
At the meeting were Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, his counterpart in Kogi, Idris Wada and the deputy governors of Enugu and Kogi states.
Others at the meeting included the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN); Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; representatives of the National Boundary Commission; traditional ruler of Aguleri community; Senator Ayogu Eze; Senator Aidoko; commissioners of justice of the feuding states, some other stakeholders as well as some top presidential aides.
At the end of the meeting, Obi noted that discussions at the meeting were without hard feelings.
“The outcome of the meeting is very amicable. The issues regarding areas where the oil wells are located will be settled amicably. We will work together as states of this federation,” he said.
Wada said the President decided to intervene in order to ensure that the right thing is done so that people in the affected area do not take the law into their hands.
“The President’s intervention is to get to tell the boundary commission to do its work in an expeditious manner that our people who live in those areas do not get too agitated and take the law into their hands.
“The President has given the necessary directives. We are very happy with the meeting, we are going back very happy to tell our people that Mr. President is handling this matter in an expeditious manner according to laid down procedures and at the end of the day the matter will be resolved amicably,” he said.
Few days after Jonathan, in August, inaugurated Orient Petroleum situated in Aguleri-Otu, Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State, the Kogi and Enugu governments started laying claims to ownership of the land where the oil wells are located, thus sparking off crisis.
Jonathan had during that one-day state visit to Anambra State proclaimed the state as the 10th oil-producing state in the country.
That presidential proclamation was said to have aroused the consciousness of the neighbouring Kogi and Enugu states to the location of the oil wells.
Wada had called on his people to protect the installations and assets of Orient Petroleum Resources on Ibaji land.
The governor believes that Kogi and Anambra states should have equal titles as far as Orient Refinery is concerned.
But Obi insisted that the oil wells currently being exploited by Orient Petroleum Resources belonged to the state.
He recalled that the firm was formed by the administration of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju in 2001 and was allocated oil fields domiciled in Anambra State.
He said his administration had invested N4.4bn in the project directly and indirectly.
In a related development, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission said on Wednesday that the National Boundary Commission would determine the fate of five contentious oil wells that had pitched Bayelsa State against Rivers State.
RMAFC Chairman, Mr. Elias Mbam, who said this at a press conference on the disputed oil wells in Abuja also insisted that 13 per cent derivation revenues paid to oil producing states were for the development of oil communities and not the state capitals.
On the same issue, the Kalabari Kingdom has given the presidency a 24-hour ultimatum to apologise to the people of Kalabari or risk revelations that would jolt President Goodluck Jonathan.
Answering questions from newsmen, Mbam said the agency was bound by law to transmit 13 per cent derivative revenue to state governments but insisted that the fund was to tackle challenges in the communities where oil is exploited rather than for development of state capitals.
The RMAFC boss said the commission received a petition from the Bayelsa State government on five oil wells currently enjoyed by Rivers State and had to set up an interagency committee to look into the issues.
He said, “On the allegation of moving five oil producing communities from Rivers State to Bayelsa State, it is worth mentioning that the commission does not act in isolation without reference to other relevant government agencies at all levels.
“The commission does not generate data to demarcate boundaries or attribute oil wells to any state. The commission relies on data/information from relevant government agencies including the Department of Petroleum Resources, National Boundary Commission and Office of Surveyor-General of the Federation.
“It is not the responsibility of the commission to adjust boundaries or determine location of oil wells. Accordingly, the allegation against the commission is baseless, false and misleading.
“On the issue of allegation that revenue from Soku is being attributed to Bayelsa State, the commission relied on the decision of the Presidential Committee on the Verification of Oil Wells of December 2000.
“Although the Rivers State Government has since challenged this position in the Supreme Court, the court in its judgment of Tuesday July 10, 2012 stated that until the National Boundary Commission concludes its exercise on delineation of disputed boundary to finality, it will be futile and premature to determine the boundary to finality; it will be futile and premature to determine the boundary of the two party states in the present circumstances.”
Mbam said the agency would continue attributing Soku to Bayelsa State until the court rules otherwise.
Responding to questions from newsmen, Mbam said 13 per cent derivative revenue paid to oil producing states could not be paid to the oil communities directly because the law specified that it should be paid to the states.