By Elem Kash
* Accuses Imo, Rivers of stalling;
*. Denies accusations of corruption;
*. Says delineation exercise will go on
The Nigerian Boundary Commission says it has obtained relevant instruments for use in the delineation of the physical boundary between Rivers and Imo States.
The commission disclosed this while reacting to the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling which conceded 17 oil wells to Rivers State last week.
The DIrector-General of NBC, Adamu Adaji, assured that the organization would go ahead with the demarcation of the physical boundary between the two States.
He said the ruling had provided requisite instruments needed for the conduct of its assignment.
“The only success recorded was the decision on the relevant instruments for use on the boundary” Adali noted.
He revealed that the instruments ares “Aboh Toposheets 311, Aba Toposheets 32, Ahaoda Toposheets 320, Okigwe Toposheets 312, State creation Decree No. 14 of 1967, and State creation Decree No. 12 of 1976.”
Turning to allegations of corruption levied against the body by the Rivers State Government, Adali whose parastatal is embedded in the Presidency accused Governor Nyesom Wike of frustrating the effort of the Commission to demarcate the boundary.
Wike had noted last week that President Muhammadu Buhari had no power to assign the Akiri and Mbede oil wells belonging to Rivers State to Imo State on the basis of a request made by Governor Emeka Ihedioha.
Faulting the claims of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, the Director General remarked, “It is unfortunate that Rivers State has reneged on several agreements with the commission and refused to participate both in screening and authentication of document exercise and other action including partaking in the physical fieldwork.”
Obviously miffed by the allegation, the boundary commission observed that the same government which apparently refused to cooperate now turns “around to accuse the commission of being corrupt.”
“We want to make it categorically clear that the NBC was never an interested party in the oil wells disputes between Imo and Rivers as it is not our mandate and so we never joined as a party in the suit between the states.
“It is, therefore, very insensitive for anybody to accuse the commission of any collusive actions when she is not an interested party in the case”, Adali stressed.
“We vehemently deny any act of corruption in its conduct in respect to the Imo/Rivers interstate boundary and any other one for that matter and we wish to further reassure all parties and stakeholders that we will continue to engage all and remain focused on the fulfillment of our mandate.
“As far back as January 2003, a joint meeting of officials on the Imo/Rivers interstate boundary was held in Owerri to deliberate on the modalities of the demarcation but unfortunately both states were evidently not ready for the physical tracing and the provisional demarcation of the boundary”, the NBC explained.
“In its concerted efforts to carry out its core mandate of intervening, determining, and dealing with boundary disputes, the NBC again held another meeting in October 2011 at Port Harcourt to review the previous efforts and come up with a new strategy for the tracing and demarcation.
“Based on the uncooperative actions previously displayed by the states and some other states, the National Boundary Commission resolved never again to allow the apathetic nature of the states to impede on the commission’s functions.
“Consequently, the NBC resolved to pursue the agreements of the joint meeting of officials held in Abuja in March 2020 diligently. It was agreed at that meeting, that parties would meet on documents to be used and thereafter undertake sensitisation campaign preparatory to the scheduled fieldwork.
“In its characteristic manner, Rivers State again reneged on the agreement and refused to participate both in the screening and authentication of documents exercise and other agreed actions including to partake in the physical fieldwork citing a pending court case on the issue of ownership of oil wells.
“The commission categorically made it clear to the Rivers State government that the case in court bothered on the ownership of the oil wells and had absolutely nothing to do with the NBC’s assignment to determine the interstate boundary between Imo and Rivers states.
“Having earlier resolved that the commission would no longer “wait on” states that do not wish to participate before doing that which is necessary for peace to reign, the NBC proceeded with the conduct of its work of the physical tracing and provisional demarcation of the Imo/Rivers boundary”, the NBC further stated.
“We will continue to do our work. The ruling of the Supreme Court was on the disputed resources not on the physical boundary”, Adali added.
It is still difficult to understand how the boundary commission sought to isolate claims on the oil wells from the portion of land on which those wells are situated, an analyst said in Port Harcourt.
“How can anyone own what is on the land without owning the land? The argument put forward by Adali in his press conference wherein he said that the Supreme Court’s decision was concerned primarily with the ownership of the wells does not sound convincing.
“It can only mean that the Rivers State Government which alluded to a matter that was in court at the time was right. It is clear that in refusing to table those documents within the pendency of the case, the Wike administration protected the sanctity of the materials it needed to prove its case.
Speaking at a Thanksgiving Service which held at Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Port Harcourt on Sunday, Governor Wike emphasized over the victory of Rivers State at the Supreme Court in the oil well dispute between it and Imo State.
“Unfortunately, the most corrupt national agency is the National Boundary Commission. Corruption is personified in NBC.
“If Mr. President is fighting corruption, he should leave innocent individuals and go to these agencies where corruption is personified. I’ve never seen people who believe anything they do must be for money”, he said.
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