Our attention has been drawn to several publications both on the conventional and social media on the accusation of corruption made against the National Boundary Commission by the Rivers state Government on the subsisting disputes between Imo state and Rivers State.
The Governor was very right to have claimed that the NBC has not demarcated the boundary. This is so because of the state’s uncooperative attitude towards a peaceful resolution of the disputed portion.
As far back as January 2003 a joint of official on the Imo/Rivers interstate boundary was held in Owerri to deliberate on the modalities of the demarcation but unfortunately both state were evidently not ready for the physical tracing and the provisional demarcation of the boundary,the only success recorded was the decision on the relevant instruments for use on the boundary which were identified as: Aboh Toposheets 311, Aba Toposheets 32, Ahaoda Toposheet 320, Okigwe Toposheet 312, State creation Decree No.14 of 1967, and State creation Decree No.12 of 1976.
In its concerted efforts to carry out its core mandate of intervening, determining and dealing with boundary disputes, the BBC again held another meeting in October 2011 at Port Harcourt to review the previous efforts and come up with a new strategy for the tracing and demarcation.
Based on the uncooperative actions previously displayed by the states and some other states, the National Boundary Commission resolved never again to allow the apathetic nature of the states to impede on the Commission’s functions.
Consequently, the NBC resolved to pursue the agreements of the Joint Meeting of Officials held in Abuja in March, 2020 diligently. It was agreed at that meeting, that parties would meet on documents to be used and thereafter undertake sensitisation campaign preparatory to the field work.
In its characteristic manner, Rivers state again reneged on the agreement and refused to participate both in the screening and authentication of documents exercise and other agreed action including to partake in the physical fieldwork citing a pending court on the issue of ownership of oil wells.
The Commission categorically made it clear to the Rivers state government that the case in court bothered on the case of the ownership on the Oil wells and had absolutely nothing to do with the NBC’s assignment to determine the interstate boundary between Imo and Rivers
Having earlier resolved that the Commission would no longer “wait on longer ” States that do not wish to participate before doing that which is necessary for peace to reign, the NBC proceeded with the conduct of its work of physical tracing and provisional demarcation of the Imo/Rivers boundary.
It is so unfortunate, that the River State Government choose not to understand the modus operandi of the commission.
The Commission’s function with respect to interstate boundaries includes;to intervene determine and deal with any boundary dispute that may arise among state, local government areas or communities with a view to setting the disputes.
The Commission is also to, define and delimitate boundaries between States, Local Government Areas or Communities in the Federation in accordance with delimitation instrument or documents established for that purpose. These function are carried out in close collaboration with State and Local Government Boundary Committee.
It is very worrisome that boundary lines which are intended for administrative convenience tend to be misconstrued or deliberately interpreted as impediments and divisions in some quarters.
We want to make it categorically clear that the NBC was never an interested party in the Oil wells disputes between Imo and Rivers as it is not our mandate and so we never joined as a party in the suit between the States. It is therefore very insensitive for anybody to accuse the Commission of any collusive actions when she is not an interested party in the case.
We vehemently deny any act of corruption in its conduct in respect to the Imo/Rivers interstate boundary and any other one for that matter and we wish to further reassure all parties and stakeholders that we will continue to engage all and remain focused in the fulfilment of our mandate.