The Court of Appeal in Abuja has ordered the Rivers and Imo governments to retain the 50/50 percent sharing formula on the revenue from the disputed Akiri and Mbede oil wells.
It is pending the final resolution of the existing boundary dispute between both states by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).
In a unanimous decision, a three-member panel of the court set aside most of the reliefs earlier granted in favour of the Rivers State Government by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja in a February 26, 2020 judgment.
The appellate court sustained only the fifth relief that restrained the Finance Minister from denying Rivers State its entitlement from the 13 percent derivation accruing from the disputed wells as shared based on the existing 50/50 percent sharing agreement. The judgment, delivered on Thursday, was on the appeal marked: CA/ABJ/CV/ 350/2020 filed in the name of the Attorney General of Imo State against the February 26 judgment.
“The issues generated in the instant case are not directly on the resolution of the problem of the boundary dispute or problem of boundary dispute between the Rivers and Imo states governments.
“The boundary disputes, from the affidavit and the counter-affidavit before the court, are pending before the National Boundary Commission (NBC). It was not that matter that was brought to the court.
“The parties have also agreed that there is an interim decision for the revenue derived from Akiri and Mbede oil wells to be shared in the ratio of 50/50 between the two states that are in contention.
“The first respondent (the Attorney General of Rivers State) went to court because it said pressure was being mounted on the authorities to abandon the sharing ratio of 50/50, to grant full benefit at 100 percent to the second respondent (the government of Imo State) and then, agencies of the Federal Government that are directly connected with this cause of action are the third, fourth and fifth respondents.
“From the provisions of the Constitution and the law dealing with the jurisdictions of the courts, it is only the Federal High Court that has the vires to decide issues or disputes relating to or borders of the agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria or any of its agencies.
“Having come to this fact, the court below has no jurisdiction to entertain disputes between the federation and states or state against state over any matter.
“This is why declarations made cannot all be sustained, because of the jurisdiction content revolving around the issues.