Three States Fight Over 'Anambra Oil'
By Lawrence Njoku and Samson Ezea (Enugu) and Chuks Collins (Awka)
SINCE the commissioning of the oil exploration facilities belonging to Orient Petroleum Resources (OPR) at Aguleri-Otu Aguleri in Anambra East Council Area of Anambra State by President Goodluck Jonathan where he declared Anambra State as the 10th oil-producing state, there have claims and agitations from the neigbouring states of Kogi and Enugu that the oil deposits being explored by the company were domiciled in their territories and not Anambra State.
The controversy surrounding the ownership of the oil wells was brought to fore by the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Mr. Elias Mbam at an Economic Workshop on Diversification in Asaba Delta State on Monday.
Mbam said though crude oil production had begun in Anambra State, becoming a beneficiary of monthly allocation based on 13 per cent oil derivation, was not automatic.
He said: "The derivation fund is clearly defined in the constitution. The law does not say you must start benefiting when we discover oil in your place.
"You benefit when that mineral resources contributes to the Federation Account and what you benefit is the value of the contribution to Federation Account."
"We have agencies of government charged with the responsibility of ensuring that boundary issues are settled. We have National Boundary Commission (NBC) and Surveyor General of the Federation, who are charged with responsibilities of delineating boundaries.
There is no need to dissipate energy now, because once they start contributing to the Federation Account, the Commission will request the boundary commission and Surveyor General to go and establish where the oil wells belong."
Even with this pronouncement, the affected states are still laying claim to the wells.
The Kogi State Deputy Governor, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, who represented his boss at the commissioning of the oil facilities: "As you know, Orient is operating on OPL 915 and this oil field straddles many states, including Kogi and one of the oil wells that have been explored and capped by ELF that have now been re-developed by Orient is actually in Ibaji Local Government of Kogi State."
On the Presidential declaration that Anambra State is an oil-producing state, Awoniyi said: "I don't see how one can explain the statement. The oil well is in Anambra River basin, which is a very large expanse of land with an overlay of several states on that basin and even that basin has been divided into several OPL. Orient has 915 and 916. Now, one of the wells is in Kogi State, while other wells are in Anambra and Enugu States. You can drill as many holes as you want in this basin and for every hole you drill, it is a well."
In the same vein, the Chairman of Uzo-uwani Council Area of Enugu, where the oil wells are allegedly situated, Cornel Onwubuya, told The Guardian that from historical and documentary evidence, the oil wells are situated in Iggah, a suburb of the council area.
"The distance of the oil wells to Iggah is eight kilometers and seven kilometers from Echenwo community in Ibaji Council Area of Kogi State. The nearest Anambra State migrant settlement, Otu, to the Oil well is 50 kilometers.
Since the creation of Enugu, and Kogi states in 1991, the deposit of oil and gas in Nigeria's inland basin has been subject of dispute between the three states. The matter has been before the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and Surveyor General of the Federation."
He faulted President Jonathan's declaration of Anambra State as oil-producing state even when NBC has not made a statement on where the oil wells are located.
But faulting the claims, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Anambra State Governor, Mr. Mike Udah described the claims as an afterthought.
He said that the premises of Orient Petroleum Resources and the oil wells belonging to the company are in Aguleri-Otu in Anambra East Council of the State.
"There is no truth in the claim by some neighbouring states that Orient Petroleum is in their land. This clearly is an afterthought and an unnecessary distraction. If their claims are true, why weren't their governors around on August 30 when President Jonathan commissioned Orient Petroleum Resources?
"Only Governor Peter Obi was there to receive the President. Anambra State is not opposed to the idea of the Boundary Commission determining her boundaries with any of her neighbours," Udah said.
The Managing Director of Orient Petroleum Resources, Emeka Nwawka, told The Guardian that the two oil blocs OPL-915 and 916, covering an area of 2158km2, extend a little into Edo, Delta and Enugu states, while the bulk is in Anambra state.
The Guardian investigation reveals that unless the NBC makes a clear statement on the location of the oil wells, fear, anxiety and suspicion already building up in the affected states my snowball into full-scale crisis.
7 feared dead, 52 houses torched as Anambra, Kogi communities fight over oil wells
BY VINCENT UJUMADU - Vanguard
NO fewer than seven persons were feared dead and 52 houses burnt when the people of Enugu-Otu Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State and Ashonwo/Odeke in Ibaji Local Government Council of Kogi State engaged in a bloody clash over disputed land on their oil -rich borders.
Kogi people have been laying claims to the oil wells in Aguleri -Otu in Anambra State shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Orient Ptetroleum Refinery in Anambra State last year.
A community leader in Enugu-Otu Aguleri, Chief Anekwe Arinze told reporters Monday that the people of Ashonwo/Odeke allegedly invaded their community at about 1:30am when they had all gone to bed.
He said: "We were sleeping when suddenly we started hearing gunshots everywhere and when some of us came out to know what was happening, we saw our houses on fire.
"Our children and women who tried to escape were shot and many were wounded. We heard them saying the land belongs to them and that we cannot take it. That was when we knew it was Kogi people.
"Some of our men who summoned the courage to pursue them could not get them because when they noticed our prompt response, they ran away. Already we have counted seven corpses. They also kidnapped three men.
"But we cannot fold our hands while they kill our people. They must release them to us hale and hearty."
However, the Transition Committee Chairman of Anambra East Council area, Comrade Chinedu Obidigwe who could not confirm the number of casualties lamented the level of destruction in the community by the people suspected to be from Kogi State, saying that it was unfortunate that they took laws into their hands by not going to court to prove their case.
Obidigwe further urged both communities to exercise restraints and avoid taking the laws into their hands.
Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka told Vanguard that he heard of the clash informally, adding that he did not have the details yet.
It was gathered Tuesday that some soldiers had been deployed to the area to maintain law and order.