INLAND WATERWAYS: Lagos Refutes NIWA’s Claims

The Lagos State Government and authorities of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) are currently at loggerheads over the control of waterways in the state following Appeal Court Judgment granted control to the state government.Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, had on Monday, during inauguration of the newly elected 57 council chairmen disclosed that Appeal Court, sitting in Lagos granted the state government permission to control activities on its waterways, ending months of legal battle between NIWA and the state government. The Federal High Court had three years ago, restricted Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA from regulating commercial activities of dredgers in the state. But on 18th July, 2017, the Appellate Court set aside the Federal High Court judgment, granting Lagos State government and its agency, LASWA, control over its waterways. Ambode, who express delight over the court verdict, stressed said, ”The era of uncontrolled dredging is over and this serves as a clear warning that the Lagos State Government will now take firm control over its inland waterways and the adjoining lands including all sand dredging activities. This will further aid our efforts in abating flood in the state.” However, in statement, also last week, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, described NIWA’s claim as “misleading” maintaining that the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal set aside the Judgment of the Federal High Court and thereby allowing the Appeal of the State Government on its right to control its inland waterways to the exclusion of the Federal Government.He said that in the lead Judgment delivered by Dr. Hussein Mukhtar JCA, the Court of Appeal has set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court and held that the Lagos State House of Assembly is 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 Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority was a respondent at the Court of Appeal and was represented by Counsel who argued and adopted its brief of Argument on NIWA’s behalf,” the Commissioner said, adding that “the rules of precedent for judgments are also very clear and this landmark judgment 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 JUDGMENT FAVOURS Lagos State Government AND BECAUSE THE STATUS QUO HAS CHANGED IS THE REASON FOR THE PURPORTED NOTICE OF APPEAL REFERRED TO BY NIWA,” he said.