Kogi/Anambra/Enugu oil well dispute: Senate investigates renewed agitation

Aguleri-Otu youths preparing for war with Echeno/Odeke in Ibaji LGA of Kogi state before an intervention by Governor Willie Obiano (PHOTO: Odogwuemekaodogwu.blogspot.com)

The Senate has mandated its Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) to investigate alleged renewed agitation over ownership of oil wells being claimed by Kogi, Anambra and Enugu states.

This followed a Point-of-Order raised by Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu-PDP) at plenary on Thursday.

Referring to Order 43, the lawmaker alleged that Anambra Government had used one of its appointees, Mr Prince Emu, to grant an interview, stating that Anambra was an oil-producing state.

Utazi said that the Federal Government realised that it was an error for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to refer to Anambra as oil-producing state and withdrew the status.

According to him, withdrawal of ownership status from Anambra follows the fact that the state has not been confirmed as oil-producing.

He sought the intervention of the Upper Chamber in the matter to stem brewing crisis among the three states laying claim to the oil wells.

Utazi said, “President and distinguished colleagues, the oil producing status on Anambra state has since been withdrawn.

“This is already brewing violence among communities laying claim to the oil wells.

“We know what we did in the past to restore peace among those warring communities and election period is around the corner and we do not want any crisis.’’

In his contribution, Sen. Andy Uba (Anambra-APC) insisted that Anambra was an oil producing state, saying “what my colleague, Utazi, is saying is not correct.

“They said any state that produces 120,000 barrels of oil per day is qualified as an oil-producing state and that is why Anambra was conferred with that status.’’

However, no comment was made by the Senator Atai Aidoko, the senator representing Kogi east senatorial district which covers the Kogi end of the communities in dispute over the oil well.

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, referred the matter to the Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) with an order to turn in its report in two weeks.

It would be recalled that at the root of the inter-state crisis is the oil deposits in the Omambala River basin which has led to clashes resulting into loss of lives and property between the Echeno/Odeke communities in Ibaji LGA of Kogi state and the Otu Aguleri community in Aguleri LGA of Anambra state.

Clashes between the two states began in 2013 after President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Orient Petroleum Refinery at Aguleri Otu in Anambra State and declared the state as “the latest entrant to the nation’s league of oil producing states”.

The clashes usually involved use of sophisticated weapons, even in the face of security operatives at the buffer zone carved out in the area by the National Boundary Commission in an effort to curb the crisis.

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