The Ijaw Youth Council has slammed a former National Secretary of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Alhaji Usman Bugaje, for claiming that the oil in the Niger Delta belongs to the North because it (North) has the largest landmass in Nigeria.
The IYC described the claim as a sick joke, noting that Bugaje’s statement was a deliberate ploy to mislead his northern brothers to prepare the ground to oppose the legitimate demand of the region to canvass for control of their resources at the forthcoming national conference.
A statement by the IYC spokesman, Mr. Eric Omare, quoted Bugaje as saying at the Northern Elders Forum meeting on the National Conference on Tuesday in Kano that it is wrong for any state in Nigeria to claim that it is an oil producing.
The group said, “We wish to state that Dr. Usman Bugaje’s statement is reckless, provocative, baseless, misleading and displays the highest level of ignorance.
“It is disappointing that such a statement could come from a member of the Northern elite such as Bugaje. To the IYC, such a misleading statement coming from him brings to the fore the reason behind most of the barbaric acts coming from that part of the country.
“Contrary to Bugaje’s assertion, the IYC wish to state that there is no United Nations Law which states that the maritime boundary of a country is determined by the land mass of the country. For the records, there is nowhere in Articles 3, 5, 57 and 76 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea where it is stated that the land mass of a coastal state determines its mileage into the sea or its maritime boundary. The United Nations Law of the Sea, which is the primary law which determines the maritime boundary of coastal states, defines the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf to be up to 200 nautical lines measured from its baseline, which is the low water mark along the coast.
“Hence, the land mass of a country is not a consideration in determining its maritime boundary.”
The IYC urged the Northern leaders, particularly elites such as Bugaje, to “bury their frivolous claim to the Niger Delta oil and think of creative means of harnessing the resources found in the North.”
The IYC noted that the Niger Delta oil belonged to the communities and people of the region and by extension the states where the oil was found and produced.
“Niger Delta oil does not belong to the North and the Nigerian state. The IYC is capable and ever ready and willing to defend, protect and assert the Niger Delta communities and people’s ownership of its oil and gas resources, both onshore and offshore,” the group stated.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, on Wednesday, described the comment by Bugaje as a prelude to genocide.
Dokubo-Asari, who held a press conference in Abuja, asked the security agencies to invite Bugaje to explain his statement, which the ex-militant said was inciting.
He said, “The intention and implication of Bugaje’s statement is that the North is planning genocide against our people, the same way they’re sponsoring Boko Haram. That is the import of what Bugaje has said; people might not see it and they will say Asari is an alarmist.
“He spoke the mind of the North. They are deceiving and inciting their people against our people. What Bugaje did was to incite these people, but we are ready for them. So he can go on inciting his people, we are ready for everything they are planning.”
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]