RIVERS STATE BOUNDARY COMMISSION
Rivers State Boundary Commission was established by the National Boundary Commission (Establishment) Act, 2006 which empowers the Deputy Governor of the State to serve as the Chairman. The Act also makes provision for other Statutory Members to serve in the Commission.
The State Boundary Commission is empowered by the Act to carry out the following functions:
- To deal with Inter and Intra Local Government Boundary Disputes within the State.
- To define and delimit Inter and Intra Local Government Area or Area Council Boundaries in accordance with the delimitation instrument or document established for that purpose.
- To liaise with the Zonal Liaison Officer of the Commission in the State and the Federal.
- To identify and intervene in areas of potential dispute in the State.
- To hold meetings at least once in every quarter, to ensure maintenance of peace and order in the border areas.
- To liaise with the State Boundary Committees of neighboring States with the view of taking joint measures that shall promote good inter-community relationship.
- To arrange with other State Boundary Committees for joint utilization of shared resources and facilities along their common borders.
- To encourage and promote joint inter-community development ventures among border dwellers.
- To encourage and support peace organs within the State for the purpose of promoting peace and harmony between communities involved in boundary disputes.
- To monitor the activities of Local Government Boundary Committees within the State, and deal with disputes which cannot be settled by the Local Government Boundary Committees.
- To evolve measures for joint utilization of amenities along Local Government boundaries within the State.
- To encourage negotiated settlement of boundary dispute in preference to litigation.
- To carry out awareness and enlightenment campaigns among the people in the State on the essence of boundaries in order to foster peace and harmony among the people living along boundary lines.
Since the inception of the present administration under the leadership of His Excellency, Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS AFRICA the Executive Governor and Her Excellency Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo DSSRS, the Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Rivers State Boundary Commission in 2015, the Commission’s Secretariat has been busy with activities related to Boundary dispute resolution. This is due to the passionate determination of Her Excellency the Chairman to ensure that inter and intra Local Government Boundary disputes are resolved to ensure a peaceful co-existence amongst all Communities in the State so that Government can smoothly carry out its development plans for the good people of Rivers State. This is evident with the ongoing collaboration with the Chairmen of the 23 Local Government Areas of the state to setup their various boundary committees.
SOME OF THE INTRA STATE DISPUTES UNDER CONSIDERATION ARE AS FOLLOWS:
The Barako/Nwebiara boundary dispute was inherited from the previous Administration unresolved.
The Commission as presently constituted took the bull by the horns, called for a Stakeholders meeting which was held on the 14th April, 2016. At this meeting it was resolved that a Technical Committee be set up to demarcate the boundary in line with the Supreme Court Judgment. The Technical Committee chaired by HM, King Kaleh Obuge was inaugurated on the 18th of August, 2016 and its report was presented to the Rivers State Boundary Commission on the 8th June, 2017. However, the technical reports after due consideration by the commission was retrieved by the Technical committee for some amendments. The report was re-submitted on the 1st of August, 2019 for consideration and transmission to the State Executive Council for approval and Gazetting.
The Bukuma/Tombia boundary dispute was also inherited from the previous administration. The Technical Committee set up then to demarcate the boundary in line with the Supreme Court Judgement in suit No. SC/97.1919 using Plan NOs. SL/25/74 and UR/433/74 as a guide found it difficult to do so because a point identified on the foot path cannot describe the entire length of the boundary and therefore recommended that a Dispute Resolution Committee be set up to negotiate an acceptable boundary. The Conflict Resolution Committee was set up by this administration and inaugurated on 11th February, 2016 headed by HM, King Dandeson D. Jaja, Jeki V to look into the dispute as recommended by the Technical Committee. After due deliberations and efforts to persuade Bukuma and Tombia Communities to reach amicable settlement failed, the Committee in its report submitted to the Rivers State Boundary Commission on the 20th of January, 2018 recommended as follows: That Bukuma and Tombia Communities should return to the Supreme Court for proper interpretation of the Judgement. The Rivers State Boundary Commission after due consideration of the recommendation resolved as follows:
- That Stakeholders from Bukuma and Tombia should be made to sign an undertaking to maintain peace in the area.
- That the Rivers State Government should acquire the land for developmental projects since all efforts to reach an amicable settlement and resolve the boundary dispute have failed. This resolution was forwarded to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Rivers State and has been considered and approved for implementation.
TEMA/IFOKO BOUNDARY DISPUTE:
This dispute was reported by the Director, Department of State Services (DSS) via a security report to the Executive Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who further directed the Chairman of the State Boundary Commission, Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor to handle. A meeting of Stakeholders from Tema and Ifoko Communities, representative of Asari-Toru Local Government Area with the Rivers State Boundary Commission held on the 13th of February, 2018. Where it was agreed that a team of members should visit the Locus and thereafter set up a Technical Committee to look into the dispute after due deliberations. On 10th May, 2018, the Technical Committee on Tema/Ifoko Boundary dispute was inaugurated by the Commission to resolve the dispute. The Committee, chaired by Pst. Paulinus Nsirim Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Information swung into action and submitted its report on the 20th of December, 2018 and recommendations has been approved by His Excellency, the Executive Governor and the official gazette has been published.
TAI/OGU-BOLO (NORKPO/OGU BOUNDARY DISPUTE:
This dispute was reported through petition by the people of Norkpo Community in Tai Local Government Area against Ogu Community in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area. In response, Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor and Chairman, Rivers State Boundary Commission invited Norkpo and Ogu Communities for a Stakeholders meeting with Rivers State Boundary Commission on 13th July, 2017. After due consultation and deliberation a team of members visited Locus on 21st August, 2017 and recommended that a Technical Committee be set up to resolve the dispute. On 14th September, 2017 the Technical Committee on Norkpo/Ogu Boundary Dispute headed by Chief Dr. Silas Eneyo was inaugurated to resolve and demarcate the boundary between Norkpo and Ogu Communities. The Committee has since concluded its assignment but yet to submit its report due to the Chairman’s tight scheduled.
ELEME/OYIGBO BOUNDARY DISPUTE:
HM, King Sir (Dr) S.O. Ejire (JP) of Eleme, in His letter dated 29th May, 2016 to the Executive Governor of Rivers State requested the intervention of Rivers State Government over the claim of ownership of Oka-Obola farmland in Agbonchia Community of Eleme Local Government Area by Eze, Sir Precious E. Oforji of Oyigbo Local Government Area. The Rivers State Boundary Commission chaired by Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor called a meeting of Stakeholders from Agbonchia and Oyigbo Communities and after due deliberations a team of Members visited Locus on the 6th of September, 2016 to ascertain claims and the team confirmed that there was a dispute. The Commission immediately set up a Technical Committee chaired by Chief (Dr) Silas Eneyo which was inaugurated on 13th October, 2016. The Technical Committee after due consultations submitted its report on 23rd February, 2017 to the Rivers State Boundary Commission recommended the demarcation of the boundary between Agbonchia Community in Eleme Local Government Area and Oyigbo Community in Oyigbo Local Government Area. The Technical Committee’s report has been approved by the Rivers State Executive Council for gazette and demarcation. However, the Oyigbo Communities felt that the entire area in dispute was not covered by the Technical Committee and pleaded for intervention in their letters dated 31st August, 2017 and 19th October, 2017. In response, a team of Staff of the Commission visited the area claimed not to have been covered on the 21st of September, 2017. Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, felt that in the interest of justice, fairness and equity, the technical community that earlier considered the first part of the land, should further take evidence from the stakeholder and determine the claim of the Oyibo people in respect of the second part of the land. The Commission called another Stakeholders meeting on the 25th of January, 2018 and after due consideration the same Technical Committee chaired by Chief Dr. Silas Eneyo was recalled and re-inaugurated on the 22nd of February, 2018. The Committee has concluded its assignment and report presented to the Rivers State Boundary Commission on the 20th of December, 2018. However, the report is still under consideration.
OBETE/SEME-LUEKU BOUNDARY DISPUTE:
This dispute was also inherited by the present Administration unresolved. After due consultation, the Chairman, Her Excellency the Deputy Governor called for a Stakeholders meeting of Obete and Seme-Lueku Communities with the Commission on the 19th February, 2018 where key Stakeholders were made to sign an undertaking to maintain peace while the dispute is being resolved. On the 22nd of February, 2018 a team of members led by Barr. Sylvanus Nwankwo, Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs visited the Locus to ascertain claims and recommend that a Technical Committee be set up to resolve the dispute. Consequently, the Obete/Seme-Lueku Boundary Dispute Technical Committee chaired by Chief Sir Fyneface Ihunwo JP was set up and inaugurated on the 12th of April, 2018. The Committee has concluded its assignment and report submitted to the Rivers State Boundary Commission on the 20th of December, 2018. While the report was being considered by the commission. The Obete people had gone to court against the report alleging bias by the technical committee.
OYIGBO/TAI BOUNDARY DISPUTE:
On the 11th August, 2016 the Department of State Services via a security report to His Excellency the Governor of Rivers State raised an alarm on renewed hostilities between Afam-Ukwu village in Oyigbo Local Government Area and Korokoro Community in Tai Local Government Area over a protracted Land boundary dispute. The matter was referred to Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor and Chairman, Rivers State Boundary Commission for immediate necessary action. The State Boundary Commission in response, called for a meeting of Stakeholders on the 8th of September, 2016 and after due consideration a team of members led by Chief Dr. Silas Eneyo visited the Locus to ascertain claims and recommend that a Technical Committee be set up to resolve the dispute without delay. Consequently, the Technical Committee chaired by Chief Sir Fyneface Ihunwo (JP) was set up and inaugurated on the 13th of October, 2016. The Committee swung into action in line with its terms of reference had since submitted its report to the State Boundary Commission on the 23rd of February, 2017 with a recommended boundary for demarcation. The report and its recommendations has been approved by the Rivers State Executive Council for gazette and demarcation. However, it is important to state that the Rivers State Boundary Commission under the pragmatic leadership of Her Excellency, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the Deputy Governor is now a beehive of activities due to her strong resolve to ensure that boundary dispute across the State are being settled. This will further ensure a peaceful atmosphere that will enhance human and social-economic development of the State. To ensure this, two local government boundary committees of Etche and Tai are already in place and more to be inaugurated soon.
INTER STATE BOUNDARY DISPUTES:
On the Inter State Boundary Disputes, the Commission has taken a strong stand to engage the National Boundary Commission on the various unresolved interstate boundary dispute, which includes:
To mention the Rivers/Bayelsa boundary dispute, the Chairman, Her Excellency, had in a memo dated 16th of October, 2017 requested His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, the Vice President and Chairman, National Boundary Commission to direct the National Boundary Commission and the Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation to resume the process of resolving and demarcating the Rivers/Bayelsa interstate boundary. The Vice President in his response directed the National Boundary Commission to workout modalities for the demarcation of the boundary. In reaction, the national boundary commission has requested to come on an advocacy visit to Rivers State. The visit is still being awaited.