5 communities drag A/Ibom to court, demand N4trn compensation

The Five Oro Nation of Oron, Mbo Udong Uko, Urue Offong Oruko and Okobo Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom state have dragged the state Government before the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo for not gazetting the communities as oil producing areas even after the national assembly passed a resolution on the matter eight years ago.

In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/215/2020, filed by one Dr. Celsius Ukpong, and two others on behalf of the Oro people, the applicants sought order of the Court directing Akwa Ibom the state to pay the sum of N4trn to the Oro people as compensation and damages for the “wrongful and unconstitutional” exclusion of the Oro nation as an oil and gas producing

Other respondents to the case include the federal government as well as the Attorney General of the federation.

The applicants sought the relief of Court for a declaration that Oro people are entitled to enjoy the same rights as other oil bearing communities in the state.

They are also asking the court to declare that the Oro nation is entitled to the share of 13% derivation from their natural resources  community.

However, when the case was mentioned for hearing on Monday, the presiding judge, Justice A. A Okeke adjourned the case to November,28,2020, for further mention on ground that the additional affidavit filed by the applicant’s counsel for leave of Court to be used was not serve to all parties involved.

Speaking with our correspondent on Wednesday, Dr Edet Ekerendu, a former Permanent Secretary, and chairman of the Oro oil and gas committee, explained that they decided to institute a case because the national assembly resolution of July,2012 mandated the Akwa Ibom State government to gazette the five LGAs as oil bearing Communities but the state government has kept mute since then.

He explained that the state government has no justification and therefore supposed to gazette the five LGAs and set up Akwa Ibom Oil Communities producing Committee as done by some other states and 13% derivation supposed to go to the communities for development to mitigate the impact of Oil spills and other social effects suffered by the communities but that has not been done.

Also speaking, the applicant’s lead counsel, Offiong Offiong (SAN), expressed confident in the case adding that in bringing the case to the court, they have reasonable confident that it is a good case but the pronouncement of the judge would determine whether or not that confident is justified.

“When there is a case before the court what you don’t do as a counsel is to be presumptive.A counsel  does not bring a case before the a Court without reasonable confidence that he has a good case.

“So, wether I have a good case or not is going to be determined by the Judge. I cannot outside the court give an opinion on the merits of the case before the court. That will be unethical. All I can say you is that in bringing the case to the court, we have reasonable confident that we have a good case but wether or not that confident is justified will depend on the  pronouncement of the judge,” he said

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