The #supreme #court has #struck out a #suit filed by the #Bayelsa state #government against #Rivers, seeking #ownership of #Soku #oil well

Inyang Ekwo, judge of a federal high court in Abuja, had on December 16, 2019, ordered the return of the Soku oil fields from Bayelsa state to Rivers as the rightful owner.

According to the judge, the National Boundary Commission had in its 11th edition of the administrative map of Nigeria released in 2002, erroneously designated San Bartholomew River, instead of River Santa Barbara, as the boundary between the two states.

Ekwo said the error negatively impacted the oil revenues accruable to Rivers state from the federation account due to the loss of the Soku oil field.Advertisement

Consequently, the judge ordered the National Boundary Commission to effect the transfer of the oil fields to Rivers state by rectifying the error.

Aggrieved by the court’s decision, Bayelsa state government filed an appeal before the supreme court.

In the suit marked SC/SC649/2020, Bayelsa asked the court to stop the federal government from further paying the monthly statutory allocation accruing from the oil wells to Rivers state.

The attorney-general of the federation and Rivers state were defendants in the suit.

Bayelsa alleged that the Rivers state government had secretly obtained the federal high court’s judgment without their knowledge.

In a related suit, the appellant also prayed the apex court to issue an order restraining the revenue mobilisation allocation and fiscal commission from withholding its statutory allocation or deducting it in favour of Akwa Ibom state, with respect to the disputed oil wells.

Delivering judgment in both suits on Tuesday, a seven-man panel of justices led by Sylvester Ngwuta, struck out the suits after Biriyai Dambo and Kemsauode Wodu, lawyers to Bayelsa state, applied to withdraw them.

Ngwuta had noted that the supreme court lacked jurisdiction to preside over the matter as it was never heard at the court of appeal.

The court held that it would amount to an abuse of judicial process for Bayelsa state to skip the court of appeal in its bid to upturn the high court’s verdict.

Following the observations expressed by the court, the Bayelsa state’s lawyers withdrew the suits and indicated that they would approach the appellate court.

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