A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday ordered the transfer of a major oil field, the Soku oil field from Bayelsa State to its rightful owner, Rivers State.
Delivering judgment in a suit filed by Rivers State, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the National Boundary Commission to rectify the error in its 11th edition of the country’s administrative map, which designated San Bartholomew River as the boundary between the two states, instead of River Santa Barbara.
The error was said to have surfaced in the 11th edition of administrative map produced by the NBC in 2002.
The NBC was said to have, in its letter dated July 3, 2002, in response to Rivers State Government’s protest, admitted its mistake and promised to rectify it in the 12th edition of the administrative map.
The failure of NBC to rectify the mistake as promised made the Rivers State Government to file a suit against the Attorney-General of Bayelsa State and the Attorney-General of the Federation before the Supreme Court in 2009.
The Supreme Court in 2012 ruled in favour of Rivers State and ordered the rectification of the error.
By August 2019, when the mistake had yet to be corrected, Rivers State Government instituted a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja solely against the NBC, seeking an order of mandamus compelling it to correct its error.
Granting the plaintiff’s prayers in his judgment delivered on Monday, Justice Ekwo ordered the commission to immediately produce the 12th edition of the administrative map restoring River Santa Barbara as the inter-state boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa States, as it was in 1996 when Bayelsa State was carved from Rivers State.
The court said the commission was duty-bound to obey the July 10, 2012 judgment of the Supreme Court which had affirmed River Santa Barbara as the boundary between the states, by immediately correcting its self-admitted error of designating River San Bartholomew as the boundary.
He also ordered that the judgment be served on the relevant statutory bodies, especially the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for them to immediate recompute the amount of oil revenue accruable to Rivers State with the transfer of the Soku oil field to it.