Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is to broker truce among Rivers, Kogi, Anambra states and some others over the contentious boundary conflicts and ownership of some resource locations within and around the states.
The meeting, according to sources, became necessary following futile efforts by the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to get necessary support from some states to address the conflicts.
Kogi and Anambra have been in fierce legal battle over ownership of oil wells found in Ibaji and Aguleri, an altercation that defied all technical and professional approaches to resolve.
Blueprint learnt that the federal government is piqued by the untoward muscle flexing and resort to legal battles over ownership of resource locations and other socio-economic as well as political wrangling which could ultimately heighten the insecurity in the land and also lead to economic sabotage.
Accordingly, the federal government has mandated the Chairman of the NBC board, Vice President Osinbajo, to, as a matter of national priority; engage all stakeholders from the contending states with a view to halting further crises in the interest of national security, peace, unity and socio-economic stability.
It was further gathered that any failure to cooperate and ensure the NBC has unhindered access to appraise boundary lines and demarcate them based on its statutory instrument for doing so, would be met with severe response from the federal government.
Sources also hinted that the federal government would no longer tolerate unnecessary and politically-motivated resort to resource location-litigation from any state, non-governmental organisation or individual which could stall the NBC’s efforts to demarcate boundaries and ensure cordial relationships between borders across the country.
NBC Director General Surveyor Adamu Adaji confirmed this at a parley in Abuja.
He said the federal government intends to put an end to all boundary conflicts arising from agitations over resource locations and thus ensure the right states were adequately captured to benefit from the 13 percent derivation allocation to oil- producing states.
Adaji said: “One of the bones of contention in resolving boundary problems has been the issue of resources. Yes, there are conflicts between border states based on resource location. There are the cases of Kogi-Anambra, Imo- Rivers, Abia-Rivers, Anambra-Imo, Rivers-Bayelsa. The commission has always maintained that our ultimate concern is not the resources but our focus is on the boundary that is what we set up to address.
“These resources fall within border towns in states. So we have always demanded that states cooperate with us as quickly as possible so that we can define the boundaries regardless of where the resources are. Once the boundaries are fixed, the location of where the resources are found will not be difficult to determine.
“Sadly, we have instances where some states frustrate the quest of the commission to quickly define and demarcate boundaries. Some, for one reason or the other, either back out of the arrangements or refuse to cooperate and we have been discussing with the states.
“In fact, the chairman of the board of the NBC, Vice President Prof Yemi Osinabjo, has graciously shown commitment and interest to ensure all resource location-boundary conflicts are resolved. He has not relented in partnering with the commission to call the states affected to meetings where decisions at the highest level are made.
“It is in that regard that he intends to call a broader meeting very soon where some issues about the non-cooperation of some states will be addressed and ultimately action taken to put an end to further legal and other tussles on resource location.”
At present, eight states namely Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Ondo, Abia and Imo are recognised oil-producing states benefitting from the 13 percent derivation allocation of the federal government.
Kogi, Anambra are in contention over crude oil found in Ibaji and Agulere, while Lagos and Bauchi are on the fringes demanding inclusion in the elite oil-producing club.
Adaji also said “the vice president will soon convene a meeting consisting of a high-powered team from the federation government and key stakeholders from respective states to deliberate on the vexed boundary conflicts between affected states.”
Adaji regretted that “previous efforts by the commission to carry out its statutory functions to demarcate boundary lines between contending states are variously and repeatedly frustrated by politicians and states with vested interests, who would rather want the contentions to be sustained than allow it to be technically and professionally resolved.”
The DG said it does not reside within its purview to interfere in situations where the contending states resorted to legal option, saying the commission had deliberately steered clear of involvement in the legal tangle of the states.
Kogi as oil-producing state
Last September, the Kogi state government said the federal government had resolved the issue by declaring both Anambra and Kogi states as bonafide members of the oil-producing states and would soon be gazetted to benefit from proceeds of oil exploration within the confines of their states.
Nonetheless, the thorny conflicts between Rivers and Imo states generated no little altercation between Rivers and the NBC as the former accused the commission of siding with Imo against its interest, even as both states proceeded to the court for adjudication on where the contentious oil wells reside.
RMAFC okays Anambra, Kogi
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) had in letter signed by its secretary, M.B Shehu, and dated August 24, 2021, with reference RMC/O&G/48/VOL/I/55 addressed to Anambra state Governor, Willie Obiano, conveyed the approval of the attribution of eleven oil wells wholly to the state.
In the letter, RMAFC also approved the attribution of Anambra River one, two, and three oil wells to be shared on a fifty percent basis between Anambra and Kogi pending the final delineation of boundaries between the two states.
“I wish to refer to your letter dated 24th March 2021 on the above subject and to inform you that the commission at its 139th plenary session held on 27th July 2021 approved the attribution of the following oil wells to Anambra State: Nzam-1 oil well, Alo-1 Oil well, Ogbu-1 oil well, Ameshi 1, 2, 3 and 4 oil wells, Enyie 1, 2, 3 and 4 oil wells,” the letter read.
“Furthermore, the Commission also approved the attribution of Anambra River 1, 2 and 3 oil wells on a 50:50 percentage basis between Anambra and Kogi States pending the final delineation of the boundary between the two states,” the RMAFC said.
In a similar letter to Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello, dated August 24, 2021, and equally signed by its Secretary, M.B Shehu, the commission attributed Oda River oil well- 1 to the North in Central state.
The letter added that the commission also approved the attribution of Anambra River one, two and three oil wells to be shared on a fifty percent basis between Anambra and Kogi states pending the final delineation of boundaries between the two states.
The letter reads: “I wish to refer to your letter dated 10 August, 2021 on the above subject and to inform you that the commission at its 139th plenary session held on 27 July, 2021 approved the attribution of Oda River oil well-1 to Kogi State.
“Furthermore, the Commission approved the attribution of Anambra River 1, 2 and 3 oil wells on a 50:50 percentage basis between Anambra and Kogi States pending the final delineation of the boundary between the two States.
“Accordingly, Kogi State will start to benefit from the 13% Derivation fund as soon as proceeds from the operation in Oda River 1 oil well or Anambra River 1, 2 or 3 oil well starts contributing revenue into the Federation Account.”
During a thank you visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Bello said with the recognition of the two states, the age-long oil wells dispute that resulted in unwarranted killings and destruction of properties has ended.
He said: “President Buharis’s decision has brought peaceful resolution of the dispute. The disputes between two communities of Odeke in Ibaji local government area of Kogi and Aguleri in Anambra state has come to an end. The Ibaji oil crisis has been going on for a while and has led to large scale destruction of property with the loss of many lives.
“The Odeke and Aguleri communities of Kogi and Anambra, laid exclusive claim to the ownership of the oil in the disputed area which has been finally resolved in favour of both states.”
“By history, the exploration of crude oil in Ibaji Local Government Area which comes under the Anambra Basin in geological terms started in 1952 in the villages of Odeke, Echeno, Ihile, Anocha/Uchuchu, Omabo, Ikah, Iregwu and Ujeh all in Ibaji community of the present-day Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi,” the governor had said in a veiled claim to ownership of the disputed oil wells in those areas.
The ownership of the oil deposits situated between Ibaji Area, Idah-1, Alade-l, Atu-l, Inni-1 in Kogi state; Eziagulu Otu, Enugwu Otu, Nzam, Ezi-Anam, Anaku, Omor in Anambra state and Igga, Ojo, Uzo Uwani Areas in Enugu state has generated no little controversies, destruction of property, loss of lives and as well caused untoward socio-economic hardship to the border communities in the three states.
According to the NBC, “Until the NBC is able to decide, using legal notices and ethnographic differences, where the oil well is situated, no clear declaration can be made as to the exact place the oil resides. This is the underlying issue”, the commission said.
Many states are embroiled in legal and related controversies which the NBC has repeatedly said had impeded its effort to delineate and demarcate boundaries among the border states.