Counsel to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and counsel to the Imo State government, have submitted before the supreme court that the suit by the Rivers State government on the 17 oil well within Akri and Mbede communities ought to have originated from the federal high court and not the apex.
While adopting their final written addresses on Monday, they both maintained that oral evidence ought to be taken from people in the disputed areas to enable the court in making its decision.
Rivers State Government had instituted the suit seeking to stop the federal government from relinquishing 17 oil wells to Imo state.
The Rivers State government had instituted a suit against the Imo State government and the AGF seeking a declaration that the oil wells within Akri and Mbede communities are wrongly attributed to Imo state as they fall within the territory of Rivers State and form part of Rivers state.
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Rivers claimed that the boundaries as delineated on the administrative map, do not represent the legitimate and lawful boundaries between both states.
On July 14, 2021, the apex court issued an order restraining the federal government from ceding the 17 oil wells located in Akri and Mgbede communities to Imo State.
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However, the Federal Government through the AGF prayed the apex court in its filed processes to vacate the order of injunction stopping the processes of ceding the oil wells to Imo state.
On September 21, 2021, the Federal Government prayed the apex court to dismiss the suit by the Rivers State government seeking to stop it from ceding the 17 oil wells to Imo state.
In November 2021, counsel to AGF and counsel to Imo government challenged the jurisdiction of the court. They submitted that the competence of the suit ought to take precedence over the main suit.
They argued that the Rivers State government was supposed to file the suit at a Federal High Court and not the Supreme Court since the suit is challenging the action of some federal government agencies and not the Federal Government itself.
Rivers State government in response submitted that their summons for direction by the court in streamlining the various applications is supposed to take precedence.
What happened in court
- Mr Joseph Daudu, SAN, counsel representing the plaintiff (Rivers) while adopting their final address prayed the court to give judgment in favour of Rivers on the ground that historical evidence right from 1927 till date clearly indicated that the oil wells belonged to the state.
- He told the apex court to note that the boundary adjustment paper of 1976 where Ndoni and Egbema communities are, are both situated in Rivers.
- He contended that the Apex court has original jurisdiction to hear the matter as against the argument of the AGF’s Counsel.
- Olusola Oke SAN, counsel representing Imo State government prayed the court to dismiss the suit as it ought not to have originated from the apex court but from the federal high court. He said oral evidence ought to be taken from people in the disputed areas to confirm where they actually belong.
- Dr Remi Olatubora (SAN), counsel to AGF was in support of the position of Imo State. He said the Rivers government did not adopt proper procedure for such a suit.
- He contended that witnesses ought to be heard in the suit to enable the court to make acceptable findings. He claimed that the AGF was neutral in the disputed oil wells ownership.
- However, scientific evidence must be considered along with open court hearings for the Supreme Court to make good findings.
- After listening to arguments from both counsels, a six-member panel led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola fixed May 6 for judgement on the matter.