Supreme Court fixes judgment for May 6 in Rivers, Imo dispute over 17 oil wells

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• Another court to give judgment March 7 in Rivers, Fed Govt dispute over NDDC funding

The Supreme Court has scheduled judgment for May 6 in the dispute between Rivers and Imo states over the ownership of the about 37 Akri and Mgbede communities housing about 17 oil wells.

A panel of the court, led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, chose the date yesterday after lawyers to parties made their final submissions and adopted their written briefs in the suit filed by Rivers State, with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Imo State Attorney General as defendants.

Arguing the plaintiff’s case, its lawyer, Joseph Daudu (SAN), contended that historical evidence from 1927 till date clearly indicated that the communities housing the oil wells fall within Rivers State’s territory.

Daudu urged the court to note the boundary adjustment documents of 1976 in which Ndoni and Egbema were confirmed to belong to Rivers State.He faulted the argument by the AGF and Imo AG that the suit ought to have been commenced at the Federal High Court on the grounds that oral evidence ought to be taken from the witnesses drawn from the communities.

Daudu argued that the Supreme Court possesses original jurisdiction over the case and could rely solely on existing historical documents from the colonial era to determine the real owners of the communities where the oil wells are located.He urged the court to hold in his client’s favour.

The lawyer to Imo AG, Olusola Oke (SAN), and lawyer to the AGF, Peter Olatubora (SAN), unanimously queried the suit’s competence and the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to hear it.

Oke argued that the plaintiff ought not to have commenced the suit at the Supreme Court, because in view of its nature, oral evidence ought to be called from the residents of the communities on which state they belong.

Olatubora argued that witnesses, including officials of the National Boundary Commission (NBC), Surveyor-General of the Federation (SGF) and indigenes of the disputed areas ought to be heard for the court to make appreciable and acceptable findings.

He added that scientific evidence ought to be considered along with an open court hearing for the court to make good findings.

They urged the court to dismiss the suit.

A Federal High Court in Abuja also yesterday fixed judgment for March 7 in a suit filed by Rivers State against the Federal Government over the funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Justice Taiwo Taiwo announced the date after entertaining final arguments from lawyers to parties.

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