The Cross River State Commissioner for Information Chief Akin Ricketts, as well as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Attah Ochinke, in a joint release said the spate of statements issued by the Government of Akwa Ibom State following the Supreme Court ruling over the 76 oil wells, ceded to it, is a sign of a man begging for public sympathy over an unjust Judicial victory and a vain attempt to divert spontaneous public condemnation of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the 76 oil wells.
Elaborating his position, the Attorney General said, “the verdict has been given, but the Government of Akwa Ibom State is arguing the case, helping to find justification for an unjust judgment.
Barrister Ochinke said, he is constrained to respond because of Akwa Ibom State’s deliberate attempt to falsify the facts, noting that no amount of advocacy can defeat solid facts.
Giving a historical perspective to the issue, Mr Ochinke said in 2006, the then Governor of Cross River and Akwa Ibom States, Mr. Donald Duke and Obong Victor Attah, respectively negotiated and settled the dispute over the territory through negotiations that were supervised by the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
According to the Attorney-General, it was acknowledged in that settlement that the disputed territory belong to Cross River State by reason of historic titles. He further said 90 oil wells were confirmed available in the said territory, which should be attributed to Cross River State for purposes of derivation. Out of the 90 oil wells, 14 were attributed to Akwa Ibom State, which Cross River State consented to, in order to sustain peace and the bonds of sisterhood that exist between the two states even when it was glaring that Akwa Ibom already had over 900 oil wells attributed to it at the time of the negotiation.
This approach, the Chief law officer of Cross River State, noted, was a political solution that was arrived at by statesman of honour and peace.
He said it was a breach of the terms and content of this political agreement by Obong Godswill Akpabio, when he became Governor of Akwa Ibom State that generated the present crisis and compelled Cross River State to go to court, in order to enforce the agreement at the Supreme Court.
He said contrary to the falsehood and propaganda being championed by the Government of Akwa Ibom State, Cross River State made concerted efforts to have the matter settled amicably by President Goodluck Jonathan, who was then the Vice President.
He said after due consideration of the facts before him, the then Vice President recommended that Cross River State be allowed to keep the territory and benefit of the 76 oil wells, stressing that, this recommendation, up till today is still lying in the Presidency.
He said the non-implementation of these recommendations; coupled with Obong Godswill Akpabio’s opposition of the recommendations, constrained Cross River State to go to the Supreme Court to enforce an agreement, which the Supreme Court held in the case between Akwa Ibom and River State, to legally binding. He therefore wondered if Akwa Ibom State will have the honour of keeping any other political agreement if it rejected peaceful overtures that was already there as a political solution.