The Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr Boss Mustapha has said that Lagos state government has nothing to be excited about in the Tuesday appeal court judgement because the appeal court only granted Lagos state the power to legislate on intra-state waterways only.
According to a press statement sent to Platform Reporters early Thursday morning, NIWA maintained that intra-state waterways are waterways that originates and end within Lagos state, which unfortunately does not exist in the state.
The NIWA press statement read as follows: The attention of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has been drawn to some online news flash and on Daily Newspapers, on July 25th, 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.
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 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.
Therefore, NIWA wishes to use this medium to call upon 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 has already filed an appeal against the judgment at the Supreme Court pending the formal transmission of the judgment to NIWA and therefore Lagos State has nothing to be excited about since the judgment has not changed the status quo ante.