The National Inland Waterways Authority(NIWA) has asked 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 NIWA, as the judgment has not changed the status quo ante.
The call was made in an online statement titled, “Re: Control of Waterways in Lagos State : Nothing to be Excited About By Lagos State Government”issued by the management of NIWA .
NIWA in the statement stated that the call became necessary following reports in some quarters on July 25, 2017, which quoted the Lagos State Governor as having said that the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division had set aside the Federal High Court judgment which empowered NIWA to regulate inland waterways including dredging activities and has now empowered Lagos State to regulate same within Lagos State.
Clarifying the issue, NIWA explained 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).
The authority however, further explained that 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.
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). It should be noted that, NIWA 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 this 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, where the Court of Appeal held that NIWA has been conferred with far reaching power and right to control, develop, manage and use all the lands, navigable waterways, inland waterways, river ports etc 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.”NIWA added.
The authority insisted that based on these facts that it 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 NIWA.
Meanwhile, NIWA stated that it had already filed an appeal against the judgment at the Supreme Court pending the formal transmission of the judgment to NIWA, adding that Lagos State has nothing to be excited about since the judgment has not changed the status quo ante.