The Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Douye Diri, on Friday urged the Federal Government to expedite action on the implementation of the 2012 Supreme Court order on the boundary dispute between Bayelsa and Rivers states.
Diri, who made the call in Yenagoa during an interactive meeting between the National Boundary Commission and stakeholders of international boundary communities in the state, explained that the apex court had in 2012 ordered the commission to visit the disputed area and properly delineate the boundary between the two states.
Wondering why the exercise had not been carried out nine years after the ruling, Diri expressed disappointment over the speed with which a federal agency implemented the Federal High Court order delivered in favour of Rivers State in December 2020.
According to him, revenues accruing from the disputed Soku Oil wells are currently being credited to the Rivers State Government instead of depositing such funds in an escrow account pending the final determination of the case.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrujakpo, appealed to the relevant authorities to be aboveboard in their judgements and actions to enhance peace and good neighbourliness between the two states.
While highlighting some of the challenges facing international border communities in the state, including coastal erosion, he equally called on the Federal Government and international organizations to come to the aid of the communities.
He said, “We are not here today to talk about internal boundaries. But we will like to use this opportunity to once again remind the National Boundary Commission of our boundary with Rivers State.
“For Rivers State not wanting to sit down with us and other relevant agencies to look at this boundary issue, clearly tells you that the area (Soku) does not belong to them.
“There is a Supreme Court order that NBC should delineate the boundary. That is why we feel deprived, shortchanged and even disappointed that this order that was given in 2012 has not been obeyed.
“People find it difficult to obey a Supreme Court order, but they find joy in obeying a Federal Court order that was given last December. We, therefore, appeal to the Vice President of Nigeria, who is also the Chairman of the National Boundary Commission to expedite the delineation process.”
A representative of the NBC, Surveyor Onya Moses, said the consultative meeting was being held simultaneously in 21 border states across the country to deliberate on issues bordering on delineation and demarcation of borders, cross-border cooperation and capacity building.
He said information gathered from the communities that lie within the 20km corridors of the international boundaries, would not only boost the NBC database but also aid the development of the National Border Boards in line with the African Union Border Programme.
Speaking earlier, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Biriyai Dambo (SAN), urged the participants to take the meeting seriously as their inputs could help in developing a better national border policy.
Among those in attendance were government functionaries, traditional rulers as well as the local government chairmen of Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor, Brass, Nembe and Yenagoa.