The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Rivers state over the disputed 17 oil wells with Imo state and has ended the political arrangement on the sharing of revenue.
In its verdict delivered on Friday, the court decided that the oil wells located in Ndoni and Egbema communities belong to Rivers.
There was previously a political arrangement put in place by the federal government for the revenue from the disputed wells to be shared equally between the two states.
However, when Emeka Ihedioha became governor in 2019, a presidential memo directed that all the revenue should go to Imo.
The Rivers state government swiftly filed a lawsuit against the federal government and Imo state.
ONE WIN, ONE LOSS
The court’s six-member panel, led by Olukayode Ariwoola, however declined to grant Rivers state’s prayer that Imo be made to refund all the monies it had collected based on the political arrangement since 1999.
Rivers, represented by Joseph Daudu, had asked the court to rule in favour of Rivers on the ground that historical evidence from 1927 till date “clearly indicates that the oil wells belonged to Rivers”.
He referred to the boundary adjustment paper of 1976 where Ndoni and Egbema communities were confirmed to be in Rivers.
He disagreed with the claim of the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) that the suit ought not to have originated at the Supreme Court but at a federal high court because oral evidence ought to be taken from people in the disputed areas.
The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction, he argued, and can use all available historical documents right from the colonial era to determine the real owners of the oil wells.
Olusola Oke, counsel to the Imo, also wanted the suit dismissed on the grounds that it ought to have originated from the federal high court.