The lingering face-off between Akwa Ibom State and Rivers state has taken a new twist following the position taken last week former challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High court in Abuja to sit on the matter.
Lead counsel to Akwa Ibom state and former minister of justice and Attorney General of The Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo had argued that it is only the Supreme Court that has the jurisdiction to adjudicate on controversies arising from allocation of oil blocks.
He was responding to the suit filed by neighbouring Rivers State before the Federal High court in Abuja. But Akwa Ibom State which is the first defendant in the suit is challenging the power of the court to entertain the suit.
Quoting copiously from section 232 of the 1999 Constitution, the former chief law officer of the country argued that since the matter is between two states, the original jurisdiction rests with the apex court.
In the original summons of the plaintiff, the plaintiff asked the court to determine::
1. Whether the 3rd Defendant can lawfully purport to demarcate, delineate or verify the maritime boundaries between Littoral States through the office of the Surveyor General of the Federation through the use of indices other than those in accordance with current national and international laws and conventions including the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982?
2. Whether in accordance with international laws and conventions, the Strict Technical Equidistance Lines Method of delineating maritime boundary of littoral states on maps is not the most internationally acceptable means of resolving oil wells distribution disputes as against the Historical Title Method?
The plaintiff is also seeking some relief which include:
3. An order Of this Honourable Court setting aside the said report and recommendations of the Crude Oil Monitoring Committee for having been produced in breach of the plaintiff’s constitutional right to fair hearing.
4.An order mandating the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th defendants and each of them to treat the disputed oil wells and all revenues derived there rom as lawfully belonging to the plaintiff exclusively
Defendants in the suit include: the Attorney-General, Akwa Ibom state, Attorney General of the Federation, National Boundary Commission (NBC), Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Accountant General of the Federation.