kalabaris protest in portharcourt
President Goodluck Jonathan has been accused of being the brain behind the boundary adjustment, which ceded some communities in Rivers State to his state, Bayelsa. The president, through his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Rueben Abati, had denied any involvement in the controversial boundary adjustment.
Speaking during a press conference in Port Harcourt yesterday, after a protest march, which terminated at the Rivers State Government House, Mr. Ibim Dokubo said the fundamental shift of the boundary between the two sister states was masterminded by the president when he was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State.
According to him, deputy governors handled boundary issues, adding that, “the problem of boundary adjustment started when the president was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State; doubled when he became the governor, tripled when he was vice president and quadrupled, when he became the president,” he said. He wondered why a boundary between two sister states could be adjusted without impute from one of them.
Earlier, Kalabari chiefs, sons and daughters, had marched to the Rivers State Government House, where they presented document containing their grievances to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, through his Deputy, Mr. Tele Ikuru. Before presenting the documents to the deputy governor, the leader of the protesters, His Royal Highness, Disrael Bobanuel, Amayanabo of Abonnema, said the boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa had been in existence for over hundred years.
“Suddenly, we realized that a fictitious map was published between 2000 and 2002. In that map, the boundary was moved from Santa Babara River to St Bartholomew,” the royal father said. He explained that when they wanted to agitate, they were told to exercise restraint, as Supreme Court had assured that the mistake made in the 11th edition of the map would be rectified in the 12th edition.
According to him, as they were still waiting, they woke up one day only to discover that over 90 per cent of Kalabari land and resources had been ceded to Nembe, Bayelsa State. He said: “Kalabari has a well-defined chieftaincy tradition, dating back to 14th century. We are not ready to be under Nembe traditional council. We are not ready to have our brothers, being under Bayelsa, while they are being fed from Rivers State.
There is no reason for the movement of the boundary, and it is done illegally. If this is allowed to continue, nobody knows what will happen next. “We have been pleading with our people; they are becoming restive and restless.” Responding, the deputy governor commended them for their peaceful disposition. He said the case of Soku had been giving the state government concern. According to him, Soku had been part of Rivers State until the boundary was adjusted.
Ikuru disclosed how N17 billion, accruing to Rivers State, was paid to Bayelsa State last month. He also alleged how their complaints were not given attention by the necessary Federal Government agencies. “We went and they blocked us, eventually, we went to the court, even at the court, things are tight. “As a matter of fact, we are at crossroads, the point we are now is to appeal to the National Assembly to see that Justice is done.
We call on the National Assembly to step into the matter.’’ In his address, the Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, Prof. T. J. T. Princewill, described as injurious, malicious and surreptitious plans to excise 80 per cent of the oil and gas bearing communities and settlements in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, and making them part of old Brass Division.
“We make bold that our President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, is very well acquainted with the facts of this explosive matter, but has allowed it to fester. Maybe, because his native state is the beneficiary of this arrogance and outright wickedness, against a people, who solidly stood by him, more than any other group in the federation, when he passionately sought help to ascend to the high office of president of our dear county,” he said.