Supreme Court Fixes May 6 for Judgment in Rivers, Imo Legal Battle over 17 Oil Wells

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The dispute between Rivers and Imo States over the ownership of 17 oil wells would finally be laid to rest on May 6, 2022, when the Supreme Court would deliver its judgment in the suit.

The decision to deliver its judgment on the said date was reached yesterday in Abuja, shortly after lawyers representing parties in the appeal adopted their final written addresses for and against the appeal.

Rivers State through its lawyer, Chief Joseph Daudu, while adopting its final address asked the apex court to give judgment in its favour on the grounds that historical evidence right from 1927 till date clearly indicated that the oil wells belong to the state.

Daudu drew the attention of the Supreme Court to the boundary adjustment paper of 1976 where Ndoni and Egbema were confirmed to belong to Rivers state.

The senior lawyer 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 Supreme Court but a Federal High Court because oral evidence ought to be taken from the people in the area.

Daudu said the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction and could conveniently use all available sufficient historical documents right from the colonial era to determine the real owners of the oil wells.

Responding, Imo State, through its lawyer, Chief Olusola Oke, said the suit be dismissed on the grounds that it ought to have originated from the Federal High Court.

According to him, the matter was one that would require the presentation of oral evidence from people of the area to confirm where they actually belong.

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Similarly, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, through his lawyer, Dr. Remi Olatubora, 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 insisted that witnesses including official 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.

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

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who presided over a five-member panel of the apex court thereafter announced May 6, for judgment in the matter.

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