Home / Lead Story / Soku oilfields dispute won’t divide Rivers, Bayelsa States – Gov. Dickson; Explains sack of 3,000 political appointees

Soku oilfields dispute won’t divide Rivers, Bayelsa States – Gov. Dickson; Explains sack of 3,000 political appointees

Gov. Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State
Gov. Nyesom Wike

Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa says the state has no interest in taking over parts of Rivers  surrounding the disputed Soku oilfields as erroneously perceived.

Rivers and Bayelsa governments have been in dispute over Soku oilfields located at the boundary of both states with Rivers government filing a suit at the Federal High Court Abuja Division.

It would be recalled that Bayelsa was created out of Rivers on Oct. 1, 1996 by Late Gen. Sani Abacha.

Justice Inyang Ekwo had declared that the disputed Soku oil wells/fields belonged to Rivers and was ceded to Bayelsa due to an error in the 11th edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).

He, on December 17,  ordered the NBC to rectify the error in the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria and the erroneous inter-state boundary between the two states as contained in the 11th Edition of the map be corrected.

Dickson spoke while reacting to the Federal High Court judgment ceding the Soku oil wells to Rivers in a radio broadcast on Saturday night monitored in Yenagoa.

Dickson noted that the dispute over the Soku oilfields had lingered for several decades across different administrations and had been managed in such a way that both states currently shared the oil derivation proceeds equally.

Dickson said  there was ongoing efforts to amicably resolve the dispute  but regretted that Rivers government pulled out of the boundary delineation exercise and returned to court.

“The dispute around the oil wells is not essentially about boundary, the Soku area is a Kalabari community in Rivers and the Oluasiri area is in Nembe, Bayelsa.

“The Supreme Court had ruled that the claims to the oilfield by Rivers government has no merit and ordered the National Boundaries Commission to delineate the boundary and both states started the process but Rivers pulled out.

“We were not joined in the suit and they got a judgment and I have authorised the Attorney- General to challenge the judgment which runs contrary to a ruling of the Supreme Court.

“The disputed oilfield is in Ijaw land and as a pan Ijaw leader,  I am more interested in the unity of our people and we should not allow the dispute to divide us, unfortunately I have no partner on this in my Rivers counterpart.

“I want the Kalabari people in Rivers to know that we are not after their land. Soku is in Rivers, but the produce from oil wells in Oluasiri area should be credited to Bayelsa. We have had skirmishes in the past and resolved it,” Dickson said.

On the allegations made by Gov. Nyisom Wike that Dickson was sowing the seed of discord in Rivers, Dickson described the claims as childish, saying that he does not require permission from Wike to visit Ijaws in Rivers.

Wike had frowned at and criticized a visit to the Amanyanabor of Kalabari by Dickson without recourse to him as host governor and threatened to sanction the monarch.

“Gov Wike should leave us alone to grapple with our development challenges. We did not inherit an airport, seaport and infrastructure as he did, I do not require a permit to visit Ijaw people in Rivers,” Dickson said.

On the sack of some 3,000 political appointees, Dickson said his administration was winding up and had entered a transition phase and hence was cautious of meeting its financial obligations and hence the decision.

However, Dickson said he had approved the settlement of the outstanding November salary for the 3,000 appointees which gulped N750 million.



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