- Category: GENERAL
- Published on Monday, 13 August 2012 19:05
- Written by Aniekan Umanah
On Saturday, 21st July 2012, the Akwa Ibom State Government was constrained to measurably react to the well-orchestrated media campaigns of the leadership of Cross River State, which started about the first week of July 2012, culminating in the State broadcast of 10th July 2012. The said broadcast confirmed the information we had
had that all the public and parliamentary posturing in the weeks immediately preceding the Supreme Court decision of 10th July 2012 on the 76 oil wells in both Cross River State and Abuja were indeed acts of the very tip of the political leadership of Cross River State. It therefore became expedient for us to respond then, and we satisfactorily did.
But in reaction to our response, the Cross River State Government, in a statement credited to my very learned and noble brother, the Attorney-General of Cross River State and reported in the Saturday Sun of August 4, 2012, elected to serve the very discerning public with what can regrettably be described as a salad of lies and discourtesy.In line with our intention not to banter words or exchange diatribes with Cross River State Government on the pages of newspapers, we resolved not to dignify the impudence of Cross River State leadership with a reply, convinced that our well-stated position was better left in the court of public opinion. However, we find it difficult to ignore the persistentsponsored jaundiced media commentaries and delusive reports credited to the leadership of Cross River State, all in a desperate bid to keep the victim mentality alive. Receiving the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Agreements in Calabar on Thursday, 9th August 2012, that leadership continued to indulge in derogation of the decision of the Supreme Court of 10th July 2012 dismissing the case of Cross River State as “punitive” of that State, to favourAkwaIbom State.We consider it inappropriate to be silent over such continued display of official buffoonery on an issue as serious as denigration of public institutions and officers in the media.
History bears testimony to the fact that idealess political leaders routinely lie to their people to cajole them into supporting a war they otherwise would refuse. It is not strange, therefore, for sucha Government to lie to its people to generate or sustain a controversy. So are we not surprised that the reaction of the Cross River State Government to our response to their orchestrated acrimony over the Supreme Court judgment of 10th July 2012 over her claim to 76 oil wells against AkwaIbom State Government has been premised on and sustained by deliberate and despicably unethical falsehood. For example, the wantonness and criminal libel in the allegation that
“While this case was pending in court, especially during the period in which judgment was reserved, AkwaIbom State government organized a football tournament in honour of Justice Dahiru Musdapher, then Chief Justice of Nigeria and presiding judge over the case. Interesting to note that the tournament ended four days after the judgment and the CJN in his address delivered at the colourful ceremony in Uyo, the AkwaIbom State capital, was full of praises for Governor Akpabio”
only attests to this Napoleonic principle of lies-for-support. The simple truth is that between the 3rd – 13th July 2012 the 19th and 2012 edition of the Chief Justice of Nigeria Sports Competition organized by the National Sports Association For Judiciary was held in Uyo, AkwaIbom State with the AkwaIbom State Judiciary as the host. Lagos State Judiciary first hosted this competition in 1995. It is a national Judiciary event, had nothing to do with the AkwaIbom State Government and, from enquiries made since this falsehood was propagated, the last Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice DahiruMusdapher, GCON, was not in AkwaIbom State before, during or after the event. Of course, there is no way the Chief Justice of Nigeria would have visited AkwaIbom State without the knowledge of the State Government. The Cross River State Government cannot feign ignorance of this annual sporting event of all the courts and other affiliated judicial bodies throughout the Federation, the 2011 edition of which was held in Benue State. Such public display of crass ignorance by Cross River State over easily verifiable information on a national event in a related profession is symptomatic of its dysfunctional leadership; and the non-utilisation of the official information verification tools at its disposal is personification of the administrative hibernation.
TANTRUM THROWING AND SPONTANEITY OF PUBLIC REACTION OVER UNDELIVERED JUDGMENT
It is reasoned by the Cross River State Government that, having lost in its litigious ego trip, it should rather be throwing “tantrums”, and not the AkwaIbom State Government which, “discomforted by the shame of the court verdict”, has been “buying up space in the media to campaign for public sympathy” arising from the “spontaneous public condemnation of the verdict”! By this claim of spontaneity, Cross River State Government unwittingly admits that it had prior knowledge of the verdict of the Supreme Court before its delivery on 10thJuly 2012. It is on record that the “spontaneous public condemnation of the verdict” started since the first week of July 2012, almost two weeks to the judgment date of 10th July 2012, with widely reported demonstrations in both Cross River State and Abuja. These organized pre-judgment demonstrations – public condemnation of the verdict that was yet to be delivered - anchored in two different motions at the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court on 5th July 2012, both seeking the arrest of the same verdict to be delivered on the 10th of July 2012, claimed to have been a subject of spontaneous public condemnation. How did they come to know they had lost the case with its judgment yet undelivered? Recall that the Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Leo Ogor, had on 5th July 2012 moved a motion that
“the maritime delineation drawn up and submitted to the Supreme Court by the National Boundary Commission in the ongoing dispute on 76 oil wells between Cross River State and AkwaIbom States, if allowed to stand, means that Nigeria would lose vital maritime territory the size of a State to other countries”,
moving the House of Representatives to resolve that the judgment be stayed and the two States should seek out-of-court settlement “in the spirit of brotherhood, solidarity and well-being” of both States.While this spontaneousaction was taking place in the House, Counsel to Cross River State was filing a motion at the Supreme Court seeking to stay the judgment billed for 10th July 2012 for the same reasons as advanced in the House. And those are the same reasons that the demonstrators canvassed in both Cross River State and Abuja. This is the same “maritime territory” thatCross River State now canvasses as transferred or ceded by the Federal Government of Nigeria to AkwaIbom State.
Tantrums? The pockets of organizeddemonstrations apart, Cross River State had been throwing tantrums – if that word is used here in the sense that is universally known: “sudden fit of childish, uncontrolled bad temper or rage” – since the first week of July 2012 in anticipation of the judgment of 10th July 2012. This climaxed in the State broadcast of 10th July 2012 when the integrity of the Justices of the Supreme Court was directly called into question, and has been repeated in the latest position signed by the learned Hon. Attorney-General of Cross River State.The use of words like “the commonsensical, logical and legal” thing was not done by the Supreme Court; “miscarriage of justice robbed our State of 76 oil wells”; “could have easily provoked unprecedented violence and reprisals”; “stolen” oil wells; “”triumph of falsehood”; etc. in the bully pulpit of a State broadcast; or “discomforted by the shame of the court verdict”; “the present political leadership in AkwaIbom State has no honour”; AkwaIbom State “has no honour to keep this agreement”; “If Akpabio was so confident”; “the will to manage unbridled greed”, “provocative gloating over unfair judgment given to AkwaIbom State”; etc.in the learned Attorney-General of Cross River State’s press statement; or “punitive of Cross River State” as used by that leadership in welcoming the House of Representatives Committee last week, cannot but be serial fits of infantile mismanaged temper the present Cross River State political leadership typifies.
POLITICS AND HISTORY OF BAKASSI
My learned brother, the Attorney-General of Cross River State, claims in paragraphs 32 and 36 of the State’s response that
“What has happened is that the Federal Republic is supervising the liquidation of Cross River State; ceding Bakassi to Cameroon and transferring the maritime territory of Bakassi that remained in Nigeria to AkwaIbom”
“The internal waters of Bakassi, Akpabuyo and Calabar South local government areas cannot be ceded to AkwaIbom State”.
We are no strangers to the politics and sentiments of Bakassi, and would rather let it be! But a Government should be courageous enough to face the stark reality of governance by due process. Twice the Supreme Court at the instance of Cross River State has considered the effect of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment of 10th October 2002. For emphasis, in SC.124/1999 the Court held, in elementary English, that
“ the effect of the judgment of the ICJ dated 10/10/2002 on the land and maritime boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon is that it has wiped off what used to be the estuarine sector of Cross River State as a result of which the State is hemmed in by the new international boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon.”
There was no spontaneous public condemnation of the verdict. In the recent verdict of 10th July 2012, the same Court again held as follows:
“After the affected areas were ceded to Cameroon, Cross River State became landlocked with no seaward boundaries. It was deprived the status of a littoral State and eventually Cross River State shares no maritime boundary with AkwaIbom State or any other Nigerian State”,
and there was spontaneous public condemnation of the verdict long before its delivery! However, how could Nigeria, which had lost Bakassi to Cameroon since 2002 retain the “maritime territory of Bakassi” which has now been ceded to AkwaIbom State in 2012? If there was such a left-over maritime territory of Bakassior internal waters of Bakassi, as now canvassed by the Cross River State Government, why was it necessary to seek a homeland for the Bakassi Local GovernmentArea in Akpabuyo Local Government Area, instead of re-locating to such fraction between 2002 and 2011? To the uninformedBakassi Resettlement Merchants, who are sitting on imminent time bomb delayed by unaccountability, deceit and cover-up, they are obviously unaware that the peoples of both AkwaIbom and Cross River States are inextricably intertwined in the Bakassi history and struggle, especially in the expansive character of Efik Kingdom. It serves the purpose of the Bakassi mercantile lords in Cross River State that the Bakassi rhetoricflows unabated while the displaced Nigerian fishermen in the ceded territory squalor in abject poverty. The present political leadership of Cross River State may know that when General SanniAbacha decided, against all logic and colonial records, to “cede” Bakassi Peninsula to Cross River State, we acceded because we found no difference between the two sister States. Before the Supreme Court judgment of 10th July 2012, the lame argument of the Cross River State Government recruits was that a dismissal of her case against AkwaIbom State would amount to Nigeria “losing her maritime territory the size of a State” to the neighbouring countries. Now it has changed to the ceding of either the maritime estuary of Bakassi or the internal waters of Bakassi, Akpabuyo and Calabar South Local Government Areas to AkwaIbom State!
In any case, it is now a stale legal argument to content that attribution of the 76 offshore oil wells to the littoral State of AkwaIbom amounts to the cession of any part of Nigeria to AkwaIbom State. The Supreme Court had since December 2005 held, in validating the Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Principle of Derivation) Act 2004 in Suit No. SC.144/2004: Attorney-General of Adamawa State and others v Attorney-General of the Federation that the seaward boundary of the littoral States is only notional, being deemed to be the 200 metre water depth isobaths contiguous to the littoral State, for the purpose of computing the revenue accruing to the Federation Account from that State for payment of derivation revenue.
It is amusing to think that the AkwaIbom State Government’s response to a paid advertisement of an intemperate State broadcast by the leadership of Cross River State, indicting both the Supreme Court and the AkwaIbom State Government of miscarriage of justice and conniving to steal the purported oil revenues of Cross River State, amounted to our being “troubled by an unjust judgment” in our favour and therefore
“buying up space in the media to campaign for public sympathy and in vain attempt to divert the spontaneous public condemnation of the verdict”.
How stuporous such leadership must be! Apart from rising in defence of self, we were duty-bound to make the point that it is essential to the stability of democracy, which is a significant component of the rule of law, that our courts, and more particularly the Supreme Court, be not drawn into political criticism over its decisions. Such political disputations, particularly from lawyers who should know better, are disrespectful to the Courts, insensitive to the doctrine of judicial independence and diminishing of the status of those Courts. The ultimate would be catastrophic. In this scenario, every Attorney-General has a clear duty as Chief Law Officer, to defend the institution of the Judiciary.
NEWLY DISCOVERED OIL WELLS FOR AKWA IBOM
The Cross River State Government claims that 300 additional oil wells that “have been in existence and production but only recently moved within 200 metreisobaths of AkwaIbom State!” to raise the total oil wells attributed to AkwaIbom State to 1500. It therefore called for the “federating units to take an interest and order a technical audit of the location of oil wells in the territorial sea.” The allegation and call are both comical and astonishing, and a sad commentary on the present drowsy political leadership of Cross River State that is urged to “shine its eyes”!Apart from the fact that AkwaIbom State Government (which does its best to work because the headship is conscious, diligent and informed) extensively collaborates with the security agencies and host communities to provide the oil companiesoperating in the State a safe environment for increased production and new investments, the leadership of the Cross River State Government should wake up to the advantages inherent in the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act 2007. Again, Cross River State Government has conveniently chosen to forget that its dispute under reference started with 75 oil wells before all parties discovered that one more oil field had consistently been kept away in the global nature of oil politics sought to be sanitised by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and was subsequently added, raising the number of oil wells in contention to 76. Does it mean that Cross River State suddenly conjured up the additional oil well to sustain greed?
AKWA IBOM STATE AS A BENEFICIARY OF A POLITICAL SOLUTION
AkwaIbom State is sufficiently honest enough to honour sincere political arrangements aimed at addressing any controversy. But political solutions that are founded on illegality or deceit cannot be enduring. In particular, a political solution foisted on parties with executive arbitrariness is a quicksand. In any event, with the promulgation of the Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Principle of Derivation) Act 2004, this covered the field of attribution of oil wells between the littoral States, and it becomes academic to postulate on political solutions as its origin. It remains the governing law on the subject.
The logic in the Cross River State’s call for a coalition of federating units on the “implementation” of the 2004 Act is best appreciated from the prism of an agonising unsuccessful litigant and will be met at its own time. However, it is instructive to counsel the Cross River State Government that earlier attempts by those it is currently lobbying to challenge the legal entitlements of the littoral States to derivation revenue on the basis of the Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Principle of Derivation) Act 2004 in Attorney-General of Adamawa State and others v Attorney-General of the Federation had failedin 2005; and the current campaign the Cross River State leadership is championing has a precedent to learn from, if it elects to be studious for once.
For now, the Cross River State Government should note that Nigeria isan oil-based mono-cultural economy with over 60% of her oil wells located off-shore, and the canvassed re-introduction of the offshore/onshore oil dichotomy would not have singular effect on AkwaIbom State, granted the achievement of such declaration of hostility on the littoral States by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In any event, we insist on being put on record that no political solution can be achieved on the rascally demeanour of the current political leadership of Cross River State, or the quantum of unhelpful personal insults on the person of the Governor of AkwaIbom State. Furthermore, the political leadership of Cross River State should come to early terms with the reality that itsdaily sponsored media puffery by paper lawyers with pseudonymous names advocating for political solution would not suffice.It is our very sincere hope that the political leadership of Cross River State would make this matter far easier to resolve than it is posturing, as there is no sacrifice we cannot make for our kith and kin, the otherwise very good people of Cross River State.
THE DEBT OF N18.5M
The denial of indebtedness of N18.5m from the derivation funds of AkwaIbom State for payment to Cross River State by the Hon. Attorney-General of Cross River State is not unexpected, and AkwaIbom State had been prepared for it. So far, from records available to AkwaIbom State,as the Chief Law Officer of State, I affirm that the purported payments to Cross River State for ecological excuses were directly deducted from the derivation funds accruable to AkwaIbom State. I challenge my very distinguished brother, the learned Attorney-General of Cross River State to publicly display any proof to the contrary, including the prior Presidential approval for such monthly ecological payments from ecological fund to ONLY Cross River State instead of from derivation fund and deducted at the Federation Allocation Account Committee. The leadership of Cross River State, as a preacher of “honesty”, should truthfully admit this self-evident fact. The illiteracy of the leadership of Cross River State on matters of revenue allocation is further exhibited by its claim that
“AkwaIbom State was the beneficiary of the same environmental degradation revenues when it was no longer considered an oil producing State after the Supreme Court decision of 2002 . . . During this period, AkwaIbom State received N600 million monthly to cushion the effect of the Supreme Court decision under the same environmental degradation provision as Cross River State presently receives.”
This is not a self-induced fallacy but downright executive deceit. It should be noted that the 2002 Supreme Court decision held as follows:
“. . . the 6th Defendant, like all other littoral defendants, is not entitled, under the proviso to section 162(2) of the Constitution that provides for the principle of derivation, to a share in the revenue accruing to the Federation Account from the natural resources derivable from the Continental Shelf of Nigeria.”
This decision brought to bear the bill for enactment of the Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Principle of Derivation) Act 2004. While the bill was awaiting passage at the National Assembly, the Federal Government extended credit facilities to all the littoral States, including AkwaIbom State, the 6th Defendant in the case and referred to above. AkwaIbom State received a monthly payment of N600m by this interim arrangement. Upon the coming into effect of the Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Principle of Derivation) Act 2004, all such advances made to the States by the Federal Government, including AkwaIbom State, were deducted from their revenue allocations. It was neither perpetual nor environmental payment.
As a people and Government, we re-affirm our cherished and abiding relationship with the good people of Cross River State. So long as the Cross River State Government continues, with belligerence, to falsely claim a legal right it does not and is adjudged not to possess by a competent court of law, so long will it take AkwaIbom State to defend itself. Even separated conjoined twins have protectable distinct legal rights. We call on the brothers and sisters from or residing in these two States to continue in their legitimate businesses and have faith in our capacity to surpass the moment.
Commissioner for Information and Communications
Akwa Ibom State