Supreme Court fixes May 6 for judgment in Imo, Rivers legal tussle over oil wells

Supreme Court of Nigeria

The Supreme Court on Monday fixed May 6 for judgment in a legal tussle between Rivers and Imo over the ownership of 17 oil wells in their territories.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who led a six-man panel of justices, fixed the date after taking arguments from lawyers involved in the suit.

Rivers, the plaintiff in the matter, represented by Mr Joseph Daudu, SAN, while adopting its final address asked the apex court to give judgment in favour of Rivers on the ground that historical evidence right from 1927 till date clearly indicated that the oil wells belonged to the state.

Daudu drew the attention of the apex court to the boundary adjustment paper of 1976, where Ndoni and Egbema communities were confirmed to be in Rivers.

He disagreed with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) in his claim that adjudication of the suit on the oil wells ought not to have originated from the Supreme Court but at a Federal High Court because oral evidence ought to be taken from people in the disputed areas.

Daudu argued that the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction and can conveniently use all available sufficient historical documents right from the colonial era to determine the real owners of the oil wells.

However, Counsel to the Imo Government, Chief Olusola Oke (SAN), asked the apex court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that it ought to have originated from the federal high court.

Oke claimed that because of the nature of the matter, oral evidence ought to be called from the people of the area to confirm where they actually belong.

He contended that Rivers ought not to have started the suit from the Supreme Court and therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the suit.

In the same vein, Counsel to the AGF, Dr Remi Olatubora (SAN), aligned himself with the position of Imo State, to the effect that proper procedure for such a suit was not adopted by Rivers State.

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

Although Olatubora claimed that the AGF was neutral in the disputed oil wells ownership, he said, however, that scientific evidence must be considered along with open court hearing for the Supreme Court to make good findings. (NAN)

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