midst claims and coun*ter-claims over the re*turn of 42 oil wells from Rivers State to Abia State and the purported withholding of N9.7 trillion accruals from the wells by the Federal Government, the Abia State government says it will launch an investigation into the controversy.
The Commissioner for Finance, Obinna Oriaku, who stat*ed this in an exclusive interview with The AUTHORITY in Umua*hia, said he did not have details of the claims by former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu and the Princi*pal Consultant, Macfredricks & Oneal, Mr. Jonny Maduafokwa, but added that the state govern*ment would investigate it to un*ravel the truth.
He explained that the essence of the investigation would be to es*tablish if the duo were up for po*litical grandstanding and prop*aganda over their claims and counter-claims in the deal.
“For now I do not have details of what they are saying but we will investigate to find out if it is mere political grandstanding,” Oriaku said.
The AUTHORITY recalls that Kalu had claimed that he was re*sponsible for the return of the 42 oil wells from Rivers State to Abia State, a claim Maduafokwa fault*ed, insisting rather that he was the one who fought for the return of the oil wells.
Maduafokwa had said that his firm initiated the process for the return of the oil wells ceded to Rivers State by the Justice Mam*man Nasir 1976 Boundary Ad*justment Committee for and on behalf of the governments of old Imo State and Abia State.
He revealed that the Feder*al Government is yet to release to Abia and Imo State accruals from the oil wells for the 31 years the dispute lasted, amounting to a whopping N9.7 trillion.
Maduafokwa had frowned at Kalu’s claims that the recovery was facilitated during his tenure, urg*ing the public to disregard the for*mer governor who he said is twist*ing facts with an intention to reap from where he did not sow.
His words: “I read with rude shock and utter dismay an article purportedly authored by the for*mer Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu that his efforts gave rise to his achieving the successful re*covery of 42 oil wells that were er*roneously credited to Rivers State without telling us the how and when he came by the information he claimed were at his disposal.
“Ordinarily, I would have left the story to pass without bothering to react but for the erroneous im*pression it will leave on the minds of readers as well as for posterity.
“Orji Uzor Kalu indicated in*terest in the project and request*ed a briefing on the subject and he was accordingly so briefed and parties entered into a contract. To cut the story short, I executed the contract to the letter and finally 95 crude oil wells were retrieved and returned to Imo and Abia States,” Madufokwa said.
He listed all the affected wells with their coordinates.
The expert continued: “It is instructive to note that once the dispute arose between the old Imo State and Rivers State, over oil wells and who owns what, the Federal Government stopped pay*ment of monies as derivation, and ‘locked-in’ the said funds in an es*crow account until verification is made as to who owns what.
“Take for instance that it took 31 years for the oil well dispute to be resolved, but the issue remains that the derivation fund from the 95 crude oil wells put ‘locked in’ in an escrow said to have accumu*lated to N9.7 trillion has not been released to the bona fide owners,” he said.
Maduafokwa advised Imo and Abia state governments to collab*orate on how to get the Federal Government to release the money for the development of their states.