Threat To Peace: Police Deploys Troops On Lagos Water Ways
…Lagos State Officials Are Threatening Our Business—–Dredgers Association
In a bid to forestall any threat to peace on Lagos waterways against the background of seeming face off between officials of Lagos Ministry of Waterfront, Dredgers Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), the Nigerian Police has deployed troops to maintain law and order.
AbelNews learnt that the action of the NIWA police is coming on the heels of a letter of eviction and stop work order issued by the Lagos Waterfront Ministry to all registered dredgers in Lagos, particularly those on Ajah axis of the state, a process which did not go down well with the dredgers association.
In a letter dated February 17,2016 and signed by one I.A James for the Permanent Secretary of Lagos Waterfront Ministry, the ministry had threatened to evict and damage the expensive equipment of the dredgers if they refuse to move or stop work completely.
AbelNews gathered that the issue which may likely implode and cause more restiveness in the state against the background of thousands of Nigerians, who work and earn their daily bread from dredging activities losing their jobs.
This issue it was further gathered is seen by the police as a threat to security and this led to the massive deployment of specialised security agency to police the waters.
Meanwhile, AbelNews was reliably informed that already, the dredgers as responsible corporate citizens has headed to the courts to enforce an earlier court order delivered at a Lagos High Court Presided over by Justice Tsho, which in a judgment suit FHC/L/CS/543/12, had ordered the Lagos government and its agencies to steer clear of the affairs of dredgers on waterways in the country except as regulated by National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) which is empowered by the constitution to regulate and license all activities on Nigerian Inland Waterways.
Also, checks by the platform revealed that the dredgers body had written a petition to the Lagos governor, Inspector General of police, Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Water Transportation, the Lagos State House Assembly, Minister of Transport, the Managing Director of NIWA, the Directorate of State Security (SSS) and other relevant stakeholders to call officials of the State Ministry of Waterfront to order.
Speaking on the development, the Secretary, Dredger Association, Mr. Richard Nitan, disclosed that it has become the habit of Lagos officials to threaten their business each time it catches their fancy alleging that some dredgers expensive equipment were destroyed in the past by the brigand nature of Waterfront officials.
According to him, “We totally frown at this development which clearly show that Lagos government and its officials do not obey lawful court orders and we are saying that the law of the land must be seen to protect investors and Nigerian workers who are legitimately licensed to earn a living and pay tax to the federation account and not to any state in the country. Come to think of it, as citizens we also pay tax to Lagos government among other levies within their areas of jurisdiction. Why are they hounding us?”
He continued, “We have gone back to court to seek the protection of reliefs earlier granted to our association which employs thousands of Nigerians, creating the much needed employment and had petitioned relevant and appropriate bodies to wade into this matter before these Lagos officials starts off another security challenge that may bring back negative agitation of buried resources control from restive communities in Nigeria”.
Reacting to the development, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Mr. Muazu Sambo disclosed that the association petitioned the management of NIWA on the matter, adding that he was watching the development with keen interest since the police has taken appropriate steps to check any ugly after effect.
According to him, “We are monitoring the development while awaiting directives from our ministry and management. In fact, we have the mandate to work with all stakeholders, including the Lagos Ministry of Waterfront to ensure that there is peace on waterways activities”.
Similarly, the NIWA Police Lagos Area Commander Austin Gbaraba explained that the deployment was to ensure peace and security on the waterways, warning that any attempt to foment trouble from any quarters will be resisted.