Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Rivers State over the disputed 17 oil wells with Imo State in a dramatic twist of events which has made the South Eastern state much poorer than before.
At a brief jubilation ceremony with high ranking stakeholders and top government officials at Government House, Portharcourt, Rivers State, the governor, Nyesom Wike, overwhelmed by the joy of the court victory conferred the highest honour of the state on the lawyers that handled the matter, particularly the lead counsel, Mr. Joseph Daudu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president.
In its verdict delivered on Friday, May 6, 2022, the court sitting at the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), Abuja decided that the oil wells located in Ndoni and Egbema communities belong to Rivers.
Joseph Daudu, counsel to the Rivers State government had earlier prayed the court to give judgment in favour of the state on the grounds that historical evidence from 1927 to date clearly indicates that the oil wells belong to the state.
He drew the attention of the court to the boundary adjustment paper of 1976 in which Ndoni and Egbema were confirmed to belong to Rivers State.
The lead counsel also disagreed with the Attorney-General of the Federation’s contention that the dispute should have been heard in a Federal High Court rather than the Supreme Court because locals should have testified orally in the matter.
According to Daudu, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction and may easily examine all accessible historical documents dating back to the colonial era to identify which state owns the oil wells.
There was previously a political arrangement put in place by the Nigerian 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 suit against the presidential directive.