Rivers State Wins Back Oil Fields Ceded To Bayelsa Over Map Error
Rivers State has been granted permission to retrieve Soku Oil field from its Bayelsa counterpart after many years of legal battles.
A federal high court in Abuja on Monday directed that the oil field, which was ceded to Bayelsa due to map error should be transferred back to Rivers State.
According to a judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo, the National Boundary Commission (NBC) should rectify the error in its 11th edition of Administrative Map, which designated San Bartholomew River as the boundary between the two states, instead of River Santa Barbara.
In granting Rivers State prayers in its suit, Justice Ekwo ordered the commission to immediately produce the 12th edition of the Administrative Map restoring River Santa Barbara as the inter-state boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa States, as it was in 1996 when Bayelsa State was carved from Rivers State.
He added that the commission was duty-bound to obey the July 10, 2012 judgment of the Supreme Court which had affirmed River Santa Barbara as the boundary between the states, by immediately correcting its self-admitted error of designating River San Bartholomew as the boundary.
He also ordered that the judgment be served on the relevant statutory bodies, especially, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for them to immediate recompute the amount of oil revenue accruable to it with the transfer of the Soku oil field to it.
The error was said to have surfaced in the 11th edition of Administrative Map produced by the NBC in 2002.
In Nigeria, the location of oil field determines the revenue from oil income accruing to such state from the federal allocation. All oil-producing states are entitled to a 13 percent derivation and this is done on the basis of the location and number of oil field hosted by such states.
The NBC was said to have in its letter dated July 3, 2002 in response to Rivers State Government’s protest admitted its mistake and promised to rectify it in the 12th edition of the administrative map.
Failure of the NBC to rectify the mistake as promised compelled the Rivers State Government to file a suit against the Attorney-General of Bayelsa State and the Attorney-General of the Federation before the Supreme Court in 2009.
The Supreme Court in 2012 ruled in favour of Rivers State and ordered the rectification of the error.
By August 2019, when the mistake had yet to be corrected, Rivers State Government instituted a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja solely against the NBC, seeking an order of mandamus compelling it to correct its error.