- He’s Out To Blackmail President Jonathan’
The Bayelsa State Government has accused Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi of distorting the facts on the Soku oil wells, and blackmailing President Goodluck Jonathan.
The State Government also accused Amaechi, who recently defected to the opposition All Progressives’ Congress (APC), of using Soku to incite the Kalabaris in Rivers State against their Nembe kinsmen in Bayelsa.
A statement by Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, said the controversy on Soku had long been resolved by the Supreme Court, National Boundary Commission (NBC) and several presidential committees.
The statement expressed surprise that Amaechi, being fully aware that the matter had long been resolved, was now stoking the matter just to grab media attention and score cheap political points.
Iworiso-Markson said Amaechi was aware that Soku was merely a name adopted by Shell, being its nearest operations base at the time, and not necessarily the location of the oil wells.
This fact, noted the Chief Press Secretary, has been attested to by the NBC as well as a committee set up in October 2000 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, and headed by Maj. Gen. A. B. Mamman (rtd).
According to Dickson’s spokesman, “the crux of the matter is whether the said oil wells which bear the name given by Shell are within Bayelsa or Rivers states according to the administrative map of Nigeria and other instruments for purposes of derivation?”
He added, ” It is instructive to note that not only are the survey coordinates of the affected areas within the geographical area of Bayelsa State, it is also in INEC Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) delineated electoral constituency as electoral ward 13 in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.”
The statement quoted chapter 3 of a report of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) dated August 2006:
“The Bayelsa/Imo/Abia State Governments complained that the naming of oil fields was often done arbitrarily without any regard to the culture and particular environment of the people where the wells or fields are located. This has given rise to wrong attribution by relevant agencies
“Incidentally, Soku village in Rivers State is about 10 km, as the crow flies, from the flow station while the Oluasiri / Soku oil wells/ field is completely surrounded by various Oluasiri communities such as Etukekiri, Ijawkiri, Fredkiri, Adokonikiri etc all in Nembe LGA of Bayelsa State.”
The statement also quoted sections of a report of the General Mamman committee: “Soku Oil Field: The team relied on the legal notice captioned “The Eastern Region Local Government Law, 1955 E.R. NO 26 of 1955. Instrument Establishing the Nembe District Council” tendered by Bayelsa State on Pages 40-41 of its submission.
“It should be noted that while the Kalabaris of Rivers State call the area Soku, the Nembe people of Bayelsa State call it Oluasiri which is one of the councils mentioned in paragraph 5 of the above mentioned instrument.
“In the light of the above, it is recommended that the production from Soku Oil Field be attributed to Bayelsa State.’’
The statement held that it was the reports that paved the way for Bayelsa to apply for the monies that had been placed in an escrow account when Amaechi approached the Supreme Court.
“From July 2004, the Revenue Commission officially attributed the Oluasiri (Soku) Oil well to Bayelsa State and the amount of N7,292,218,892 was subsequently released from the ESCROW account to Bayelsa State on 19th March 2007 during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo,” it said.
The government said the application for a refund of N17, 405, 702, 164.34 was made during the administration of President Umar Yar’Adua, on the reconciliation on Nembe South oil field in Bayelsa State and was found by RMAFC to be true.
The statement said Amaechi failed to disclose that Rivers State made a similar claim on Nda and Okwori oil wells from Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Delta states, and got a refund of N17.5 billion.
It accused Amaechi of leading a smear campaign against President Jonathan, and threaten the peace and security of the nation.
“The Government of Bayelsa State assures our brothers, friends and the Good people of Rivers State that our thoughts and prayers are with them at this trying moment in the life of our parent state, where a good number of our citizens still reside and call home,” the statement declared.