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Lagos Govt., FG battle over waterways

By Aisha Cole on 29/07/2017

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The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Lagos State Government are locked in a battle of words over the control of the waterways in the state.

NIWA claimed it has the control rights over dredging and boat operations on the waters following a judgement of the Court of Appeal, It said the court only granted Lagos the power to legislate on intra-state waterways.

The Lagos government held a contrary view, saying by the virtue of the judgement it has control over its waterways and the State Assembly can make regulatory laws.

Information and Strategy Commissioner, Steve Ayorinde urged boat operators and dredging firms to ignore NIWA and respect the laws of the state.

NIWA in a statement, actually made to counter Ayorinde said the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, that set aside the Federal High Court judgment empowers it to regulate inland waterways.

It said that the report, which said the Lagos State had now been empowered to regulate same within the state, was not true.

“In this connection therefore, NIWA wishes to clarify that the Court of Appeal only granted Lagos State the power to legislate on intra-state waterways (i.e. such waterways that originate and end within Lagos State).

“However, such waterways do not exist in Lagos State because all bodies of waterways in Lagos State are either international, tidal, intra-coastal and/or inter-state waterways,” the statement said.

According to NIWA, the Court of Appeal retained the power to regulate international, intra-coastal and inter-state waterways in NIWA, being items provided under Articles 36 and 64 of the Exclusive Legislative list of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

NIWA said it was not the plaintiff in this case at the lower court as wrongly perceived, but a co-defendant with Lagos State.

“It is also imperative to notify the public that beside the Court of Appeal judgment, there is also another subsisting Court of Appeal decision in G. M Ent. Ltd vs C.R. Investment Ltd. reported in (2011) 14 N.W.L.R. part 1266, page 125.

“The Court of Appeal held that NIWA had been conferred with far- reaching power and right to control, develop, manage and use all the lands, navigable waterways, inland waterways, river ports throughout Nigeria.

“The position, therefore, remains that it is only the Federal Government that can regulate inland waterways, shipping, navigation and dredging activities within the Nigerian inland waterways and its Right-of -Ways,” it said.

NIWA called on all maritime and dredging operators to disregard the latest claims by the Lagos State Government, remain calm and continue to carry on their legitimate businesses as regulated by it.

It said it had already filed an appeal against the judgment at the Supreme Court.

Mr. Steve Ayorinde, clarified that in the lead judgement delivered by Dr. Hussein Mukhtar, the Court of Appeal, indeed set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court.

Ayorinde said the Appeal Court held that the Lagos State House of Assembly was competent to make laws in respect of the intra-Inland waterways in Lagos State; except those inter-state waterways under Item 5 in the 2nd Schedule of the National Inland Waterways Act.

“It is on record that the National Inland Waterways Authority was a respondent at the Court of Appeal and was represented by a Counsel who argued and adopted its brief of Argument on NIWA’s behalf,” the commissioner said,

“The rules of precedent for judgements are also very clear and this landmark judgement represents the current law on this issue until it is set aside by a higher Court.

“Any arguments to the contrary by NIWA are misconceived and should be disregarded.

“It is not in doubt that this judgement favours Lagos State Government and because the status quo has changed is the reason for the purported notice of appeal referred to by NIWA,” Ayorinde said. (NAN)

Source News Express

Posted 29/07/2017 12:20:34 PM


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