The federal government has disclosed that as of February 2017, Cross River State received the sum of N37.5 billion as compensation for the loss of its 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State in 2012.
The oil wells were transferred to Akwa Ibom State by the RMAFC following Nigeria’s loss of the Bakassi peninsula to the Republic of Cameroun courtesy of the October 10, 2002 judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court which declared that with the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroun, the oil wells now lay adjacent Akwa Ibom State.
The Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, who made the disclosure when he led delegates from the commission on a courtesy call to the state Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, said compensation to the state commenced almost immediately, based on the directive of the federal government.
Mohammed said following the Supreme Court judgment which led to the loss of the oil wells by the state, the office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice wrote to the RMAFC advising it to augment allocation to the state from the Federation Account.
The chairman of the commission said based on the directive of the federal government, the RMAFC consulted the state government for inputs, and the sum of N38 billion was arrived at as compensation that should be paid to the state for the loss of the oil wells.
“We wrote to the Cross River State Government to make a presentation to this effect. The state made a wonderful presentation in November 2012 and after that N38 billion was approved,” the RMAFC chairman said.
Mohammed disclosed that the sum of N13 billion was paid in bulk sum as first installments, and thereafter, the state received N500 million monthly over a period of two years.
He said at the expiration of the first tranche of financial compensation for the state after the first two years, another round of payment running over a period of 26 months commenced, and would elapse May 2017.
Mohammed disclosed that the Ayade-led administration has also made a fresh request that N2billion be paid to the state monthly on a permanent basis on the argument that the N38 billion approved as compensation was grossly inadequate.
However, Mohammed stated that based on the fresh request from the state government, the commission would conduct due diligence survey, and report back to the appropriate quarters that would consider it for approval.
Addressing the delegates from the commission, Ayade said the N38 billion approved for payment over a period of 11 years, was too meagre as it cannot cater for five months wage bill of workers in the state.
Ayade lamented that the loss of Bakassi and the oil wells denied the state of the 13 per cent derivation from oil proceeds, and reduce it, at best, to a mere geographical member of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The governor said the loss suffered by the displaced pupation cannot be quantified in monetary value because N3trillion compensation would not assuage the loss of original homes by the Bakassi people.
Demanding that the federal government should implement a permanent solution to the lingering Bakassi issue, Ayade said: “You took our land, took our oil wells, took us out of 13 per cent derivation fund, and reduced us to a weeping child in the NDDC. The pain is incalculable. We are a captured people by the federal government. We have no say because it does not matter. We practice ethnocracy, and so it does not matter how the people of Bakassi and Cross River as a whole are in pains.
“Today we have NDDC, whose projects are based on percentage of oil production. So, look at what we have lost from the perspective of NDDC which keeps us as a crying child who is just in NDDC by geography not by production as the sharing formula here is by quantum of oil production coupled with the fact that today also, we no longer benefit from the 13 per cent derivation….
“If not for President (Muhammdu) Buhari, I am sure that even the super highway and Bakassi Deep Seaport would have been killed by now. But, how can a people feel like captives in a place they call their own?”