76 Oil Wells – On The Cross River State Response

76 Oil Wells. Photo by: THEWILL On Saturday, 21st July 2012, the Akwa Ibom State Government was
constrained to measurably react to the well-orchestrated media
campaigns of the leadership of Cross River State, which started about
the first week of July 2012, culminating in the State broadcast of
10th July 2012. The said broadcast confirmed the information we had
had that all the public and parliamentary posturing in the weeks
immediately preceding the Supreme Court decision of 10th July 2012 on
the 76 oil wells in both Cross River State and Abuja were indeed acts
of the very tip of the political leadership of Cross River State. It
therefore became expedient for us to respond then, and we
satisfactorily did.

LIES-FOR-SUPPORT SYNDROME

But in reaction to our response, the Cross River State Government, in
a statement credited to my very learned and noble brother, the
Attorney-General of Cross River State and reported in the Saturday Sun
of August 4, 2012, elected to serve the very discerning public with
what can regrettably be described as a salad of lies and
discourtesy.In line with our intention not to banter words or exchange
diatribes with Cross River State Government on the pages of
newspapers, we resolved not to dignify the impudence of Cross River
State leadership with a reply, convinced that our well-stated position
was better left in the court of public opinion. However, we find it
difficult to ignore the persistent sponsored jaundiced media
commentaries and delusive reports credited to the leadership of Cross
River State, all in a desperate bid to keep the victim mentality
alive. Receiving the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties
and Agreements in Calabar on Thursday, 9th August 2012, that
leadership continued to indulge in derogation of the decision of the
Supreme Court of 10th July 2012 dismissing the case of Cross River
State as “punitive” of that State, to favour Akwa Ibom State. We
consider it inappropriate to be silent over such continued display of
official buffoonery on an issue as serious as denigration of public
institutions and officers in the media.

History bears testimony to the fact that idealess political leaders
routinely lie to their people to cajole them into supporting a war
they otherwise would refuse. It is not strange, therefore, for such a
Government to lie to its people to generate or sustain a controversy.
So are we not surprised that the reaction of the Cross River State
Government to our response to their orchestrated acrimony over the
Supreme Court judgment of 10th July 2012 over her claim to 76 oil
wells against Akwa Ibom State Government has been premised on and
sustained by deliberate and despicably unethical falsehood. For
example, the wantonness and criminal libel in the allegation that

“While this case was pending in court, especially during the period in
which judgment was reserved, Akwa Ibom State government organized a
football tournament in honour of Justice Dahiru Musdapher, then Chief
Justice of Nigeria and presiding judge over the case. Interesting to
note that the tournament ended four days after the judgment and the
CJN in his address delivered at the colourful ceremony in Uyo, the
Akwa Ibom State capital, was full of praises for Governor Akpabio”

only attests to this Napoleonic principle of lies-for-support. The
simple truth is that between the 3rd – 13th July 2012 the 19th and
2012 edition of the Chief Justice of Nigeria Sports Competition
organized by the National Sports Association For Judiciary was held in
Uyo, Akwa Ibom State with the Akwa Ibom State Judiciary as the host.
Lagos State Judiciary first hosted this competition in 1995. It is a
national Judiciary event, had nothing to do with the Akwa Ibom State
Government and, from enquiries made since this falsehood was
propagated, the last Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Dahiru
Musdapher, GCON, was not in Akwa Ibom State before, during or after
the event. Of course, there is no way the Chief Justice of Nigeria
would have visited Akwa Ibom State without the knowledge of the State
Government. The Cross River State Government cannot feign ignorance of
this annual sporting event of all the courts and other affiliated
judicial bodies throughout the Federation, the 2011 edition of which
was held in Benue State. Such public display of crass ignorance by
Cross River State over easily verifiable information on a national
event in a related profession is symptomatic of its dysfunctional
leadership; and the non-utilisation of the official information
verification tools at its disposal is personification of the
administrative hibernation.

TANTRUM THROWING AND SPONTANEITY OF PUBLIC REACTION OVER UNDELIVERED JUDGMENT

It is reasoned by the Cross River State Government that, having lost
in its litigious ego trip, it should rather be throwing “tantrums”,
and not the Akwa Ibom State Government which, “discomforted by the
shame of the court verdict”, has been “buying up space in the media to
campaign for public sympathy” arising from the “spontaneous public
condemnation of the verdict”! By this claim of spontaneity, Cross
River State Government unwittingly admits that it had prior knowledge
of the verdict of the Supreme Court before its delivery on 10th July
2012. It is on record that the “spontaneous public condemnation of the
verdict” started since the first week of July 2012, almost two weeks
to the judgment date of 10th July 2012, with widely reported
demonstrations in both Cross River State and Abuja. These organized
pre-judgment demonstrations – public condemnation of the verdict that
was yet to be delivered – anchored in two different motions at the
House of Representatives and the Supreme Court on 5th July 2012, both
seeking the arrest of the same verdict to be delivered on the 10th of
July 2012, claimed to have been a subject of spontaneous public
condemnation. How did they come to know they had lost the case with
its judgment yet undelivered? Recall that the Deputy Leader of the
House of Representatives, Hon. Leo Ogor, had on 5th July 2012 moved a
motion that

“the maritime delineation drawn up and submitted to the Supreme Court
by the National Boundary Commission in the ongoing dispute on 76 oil
wells between Cross River State and Akwa Ibom States, if allowed to
stand, means that Nigeria would lose vital maritime territory the size
of a State to other countries”,

moving the House of Representatives to resolve that the judgment be
stayed and the two States should seek out-of-court settlement “in the
spirit of brotherhood, solidarity and well-being” of both States.
While this spontaneousaction was taking place in the House, Counsel to
Cross River State was filing a motion at the Supreme Court seeking to
stay the judgment billed for 10th July 2012 for the same reasons as
advanced in the House. And those are the same reasons that the
demonstrators canvassed in both Cross River State and Abuja. This is
the same “maritime territory” that Cross River State now canvasses as
transferred or ceded by the Federal Government of Nigeria to Akwa Ibom
State.

Tantrums? The pockets of organizeddemonstrations apart, Cross River
State had been throwing tantrums – if that word is used here in the
sense that is universally known: “sudden fit of childish, uncontrolled
bad temper or rage” – since the first week of July 2012 in
anticipation of the judgment of 10th July 2012. This climaxed in the
State broadcast of 10th July 2012 when the integrity of the Justices
of the Supreme Court was directly called into question, and has been
repeated in the latest position signed by the learned Hon.
Attorney-General of Cross River State. The use of words like “the
commonsensical, logical and legal” thing was not done by the Supreme
Court; “miscarriage of justice robbed our State of 76 oil wells”;
“could have easily provoked unprecedented violence and reprisals”;
“stolen” oil wells; “”triumph of falsehood”; etc. in the bully pulpit
of a State broadcast; or “discomforted by the shame of the court
verdict”; “the present political leadership in Akwa Ibom State has no
honour”; Akwa Ibom State “has no honour to keep this agreement”; “If
Akpabio was so confident”; “the will to manage unbridled greed”,
“provocative gloating over unfair judgment given to Akwa Ibom State”;
etc. in the learned Attorney-General of Cross River State’s press
statement; or “punitive of Cross River State” as used by that
leadership in welcoming the House of Representatives Committee last
week, cannot but be serial fits of infantile mismanaged temper the
present Cross River State political leadership typifies.

POLITICS AND HISTORY OF BAKASSI

My learned brother, the Attorney-General of Cross River State, claims
in paragraphs 32 and 36 of the State’s response that

“What has happened is that the Federal Republic is supervising the
liquidation of Cross River State; ceding Bakassi to Cameroon and
transferring the maritime territory of Bakassi that remained in
Nigeria to Akwa Ibom”

and that

“The internal waters of Bakassi, Akpabuyo and Calabar South local
government areas cannot be ceded to Akwa Ibom State”.

We are no strangers to the politics and sentiments of Bakassi, and
would rather let it be! But a Government should be courageous enough
to face the stark reality of governance by due process. Twice the
Supreme Court at the instance of Cross River State has considered the
effect of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment of 10th
October 2002. For emphasis, in SC.124/1999 the Court held, in
elementary English, that

“ the effect of the judgment of the ICJ dated 10/10/2002 on the land
and maritime boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon is that it has
wiped off what used to be the estuarine sector of Cross River State as
a result of which the State is hemmed in by the new international
boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon.”

There was no spontaneous public condemnation of the verdict. In the
recent verdict of 10th July 2012, the same Court again held as
follows:

“After the affected areas were ceded to Cameroon, Cross River State
became landlocked with no seaward boundaries. It was deprived the
status of a littoral State and eventually Cross River State shares no
maritime boundary with Akwa Ibom State or any other Nigerian State”,

and there was spontaneous public condemnation of the verdict long
before its delivery! However, how could Nigeria, which had lost
Bakassi to Cameroon since 2002 retain the “maritime territory of
Bakassi” which has now been ceded to Akwa Ibom State in 2012? If there
was such a left-over maritime territory of Bakassi or internal waters
of Bakassi, as now canvassed by the Cross River State Government, why
was it necessary to seek a homeland for the Bakassi Local
GovernmentArea in Akpabuyo Local Government Area, instead of
re-locating to such fraction between 2002 and 2011? To the uninformed
Bakassi Resettlement Merchants, who are sitting on imminent time bomb
delayed by unaccountability, deceit and cover-up, they are obviously
unaware that the peoples of both Akwa Ibom and Cross River States are
inextricably intertwined in the Bakassi history and struggle,
especially in the expansive character of Efik Kingdom. It serves the
purpose of the Bakassi mercantile lords in Cross River State that the
Bakassi rhetoric flows unabated while the displaced Nigerian fishermen
in the ceded territory squalor in abject poverty. The present
political leadership of Cross River State may know that when General
Sanni Abacha decided, against all logic and colonial records, to
“cede” Bakassi Peninsula to Cross River State, we acceded because we
found no difference between the two sister States. Before the Supreme
Court judgment of 10th July 2012, the lame argument of the Cross River
State Government recruits was that a dismissal of her case against
Akwa Ibom State would amount to Nigeria “losing her maritime territory
the size of a State” to the neighbouring countries. Now it has changed
to the ceding of either the maritime estuary of Bakassi or the
internal waters of Bakassi, Akpabuyo and Calabar South Local
Government Areas to Akwa Ibom State!

In any case, it is now a stale legal argument to content that
attribution of the 76 offshore oil wells to the littoral State of Akwa
Ibom amounts to the cession of any part of Nigeria to Akwa Ibom State.
The Supreme Court had since December 2005 held, in validating the
Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Principle of
Derivation) Act 2004 in Suit No. SC.144/2004: Attorney-General of
Adamawa State and others v Attorney-General of the Federation that the
seaward boundary of the littoral States is only notional, being deemed
to be the 200 metre water depth isobaths contiguous to the littoral
State, for the purpose of computing the revenue accruing to the
Federation Account from that State for payment of derivation revenue.

It is amusing to think that the Akwa Ibom State Government’s response
to a paid advertisement of an intemperate State broadcast by the
leadership of Cross River State, indicting both the Supreme Court and
the Akwa Ibom State Government of miscarriage of justice and conniving
to steal the purported oil revenues of Cross River State, amounted to
our being “troubled by an unjust judgment” in our favour and therefore

“buying up space in the media to campaign for public sympathy and in
vain attempt to divert the spontaneous public condemnation of the
verdict”.

How stuporous such leadership must be! Apart from rising in defence of
self, we were duty-bound to make the point that it is essential to the
stability of democracy, which is a significant component of the rule
of law, that our courts, and more particularly the Supreme Court, be
not drawn into political criticism over its decisions. Such political
disputations, particularly from lawyers who should know better, are
disrespectful to the Courts, insensitive to the doctrine of judicial
independence and diminishing of the status of those Courts. The
ultimate would be catastrophic. In this scenario, every
Attorney-General has a clear duty as Chief Law Officer, to defend the
institution of the Judiciary.

NEWLY DISCOVERED OIL WELLS FOR AKWA IBOM

The Cross River State Government claims that 300 additional oil wells
that “have been in existence and production but only recently moved
within 200 metre isobaths of Akwa Ibom State!” to raise the total oil
wells attributed to Akwa Ibom State to 1500. It therefore called for
the “federating units to take an interest and order a technical audit
of the location of oil wells in the territorial sea.” The allegation
and call are both comical and astonishing, and a sad commentary on the
present drowsy political leadership of Cross River State that is urged
to “shine its eyes”! Apart from the fact that Akwa Ibom State
Government (which does its best to work because the headship is
conscious, diligent and informed) extensively collaborates with the
security agencies and host communities to provide the oil
companiesoperating in the State a safe environment for increased
production and new investments, the leadership of the Cross River
State Government should wake up to the advantages inherent in the
Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act 2007. Again,
Cross River State Government has conveniently chosen to forget that
its dispute under reference started with 75 oil wells before all
parties discovered that one more oil field had consistently been kept
away in the global nature of oil politics sought to be sanitised by
the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and was
subsequently added, raising the number of oil wells in contention to
76. Does it mean that Cross River State suddenly conjured up the
additional oil well to sustain greed?

AKWA IBOM STATE AS A BENEFICIARY OF A POLITICAL SOLUTION

Akwa Ibom State is sufficiently honest enough to honour sincere
political arrangements aimed at addressing any controversy. But
political solutions that are founded on illegality or deceit cannot be
enduring. In particular, a political solution foisted on parties with
executive arbitrariness is a quicksand. In any event, with the
promulgation of the Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in
the Principle of Derivation) Act 2004, this covered the field of
attribution of oil wells between the littoral States, and it becomes
academic to postulate on political solutions as its origin. It remains
the governing law on the subject.

The logic in the Cross River State’s call for a coalition of
federating units on the “implementation” of the 2004 Act is best
appreciated from the prism of an agonising unsuccessful litigant and
will be met at its own time. However, it is instructive to counsel the
Cross River State Government that earlier attempts by those it is
currently lobbying to challenge the legal entitlements of the littoral
States to derivation revenue on the basis of the Revenue (Abolition of
Dichotomy in the Principle of Derivation) Act 2004 in Attorney-General
of Adamawa State and others v Attorney-General of the Federation had
failed in 2005; and the current campaign the Cross River State
leadership is championing has a precedent to learn from, if it elects
to be studious for once.

For now, the Cross River State Government should note that Nigeria is
an oil-based mono-cultural economy with over 60% of her oil wells
located off-shore, and the canvassed re-introduction of the
offshore/onshore oil dichotomy would not have singular effect on Akwa
Ibom State, granted the achievement of such declaration of hostility
on the littoral States by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

In any event, we insist on being put on record that no political
solution can be achieved on the rascally demeanour of the current
political leadership of Cross River State, or the quantum of unhelpful
personal insults on the person of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Furthermore, the political leadership of Cross River State should come
to early terms with the reality that its daily sponsored media puffery
by paper lawyers with pseudonymous names advocating for political
solution would not suffice. It is our very sincere hope that the
political leadership of Cross River State would make this matter far
easier to resolve than it is posturing, as there is no sacrifice we
cannot make for our kith and kin, the otherwise very good people of
Cross River State.

THE DEBT OF N18.5M

The denial of indebtedness of N18.5m from the derivation funds of Akwa
Ibom State for payment to Cross River State by the Hon.
Attorney-General of Cross River State is not unexpected, and Akwa Ibom
State had been prepared for it. So far, from records available to Akwa
Ibom State, as the Chief Law Officer of State, I affirm that the
purported payments to Cross River State for ecological excuses were
directly deducted from the derivation funds accruable to Akwa Ibom
State. I challenge my very distinguished brother, the learned
Attorney-General of Cross River State to publicly display any proof to
the contrary, including the prior Presidential approval for such
monthly ecological payments from ecological fund to ONLY Cross River
State instead of from derivation fund and deducted at the Federation
Allocation Account Committee. The leadership of Cross River State, as
a preacher of “honesty”, should truthfully admit this self-evident
fact. The illiteracy of the leadership of Cross River State on matters
of revenue allocation is further exhibited by its claim that

“Akwa Ibom State was the beneficiary of the same environmental
degradation revenues when it was no longer considered an oil producing
State after the Supreme Court decision of 2002 . . . During this
period, Akwa Ibom State received N600 million monthly to cushion the
effect of the Supreme Court decision under the same environmental
degradation provision as Cross River State presently receives.”

This is not a self-induced fallacy but downright executive deceit. It
should be noted that the 2002 Supreme Court decision held as follows:

“. . . the 6th Defendant, like all other littoral defendants, is not
entitled, under the proviso to section 162(2) of the Constitution that
provides for the principle of derivation, to a share in the revenue
accruing to the Federation Account from the natural resources
derivable from the Continental Shelf of Nigeria.”

This decision brought to bear the bill for enactment of the Allocation
of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Principle of Derivation) Act
2004. While the bill was awaiting passage at the National Assembly,
the Federal Government extended credit facilities to all the littoral
States, including Akwa Ibom State, the 6th Defendant in the case and
referred to above. Akwa Ibom State received a monthly payment of N600m
by this interim arrangement. Upon the coming into effect of the
Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Principle of
Derivation) Act 2004, all such advances made to the States by the
Federal Government, including Akwa Ibom State, were deducted from
their revenue allocations. It was neither perpetual nor environmental
payment.

CONCLUSION

As a people and Government, we re-affirm our cherished and abiding
relationship with the good people of Cross River State. So long as the
Cross River State Government continues, with belligerence, to falsely
claim a legal right it does not and is adjudged not to possess by a
competent court of law, so long will it take Akwa Ibom State to defend
itself. Even separated conjoined twins have protectable distinct legal
rights. We call on the brothers and sisters from or residing in these
two States to continue in their legitimate businesses and have faith
in our capacity to surpass the moment.

Barr. Ekpenyong Ntekim

Hon. Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice

Akwa Ibom State.

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