NIWA Queries Lagos State Over Meddlesomeness of State Assembly in Dredging Matters

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has queried the continued interference of the Lagos State House of Assembly on dredging and waterways activities within the state, saying that the state has no jurisdiction to control such matters as they fall under the control of NIWA.

In May 2020, Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Right Honourable Mudashiru Obasa had set up a seven-man ad-hoc committee to look into the indiscriminate activities of dredgers along the state’s shorelines.

The Lagos Assembly argued that dredging activities pose imminent threat on the lives of residents, especially in Sangotedo area of Eti Osa Local Government Area. The Assembly argued that dredging requires expertise, caution and proper monitoring.

However, in a letter signed by the Managing Director of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu addressed to the Attorney General of Lagos State 3rd of June 2020, NIWA said that, by virtue of the Court of Appeal judgment, Lagos State has no legislative competence to meddle in dredging affairs, as it is exclusively within the ambit of the federal government.

A copy of the letter made available to DAILY TREND NEWS showed that it was received by the Lagos State Government on 16th June 2020.

The NIWA MD restated the judgement of the court of Appeal in 2017 which states that all intra coastal routes belong to the control of NIWA, while Lagos State only has power to control a body of water that starts and ends in Lagos.

He quoted the page 28 of the court of Appeal judgment which states that “Item 5 in the Second Scheduleto the National Inland Waterways Act is the relevant provision for the navigable route that falls under the exclusive legislative list and it provides thus:

“The intra-coastal route from Badagry, along the Badagry Creek to Lagos through Lagos Lagoon to Epe, Lekki Lagoon to Iwopin along Omu /Creek, Talifa Kivel to Ajilete, Akata, Aboko, Oluwa river to Okitipipa and on to Gbekebo, Arogbo, Ofunama Benin Creek to Warri, Also the Canal running from Araraml through Aiyetori, Imelumo to Benin River and from Aiyetoro through Mahin Lagoon to Igbokoda.

“This root runs through International and states boundaries and is therefore consistent with the provisions of the constitution being an item on the exclusive legislative list, Revenue accruable from this Federal Route is payable to the Federal Waterways Authority”

The letter reads in part that “The court emphasized that it is only All other inland waterways within Lagos State exclusive of the above item 5 in the 2nd schedule to the NIWA Act that are within the legislative competence of the Lagos State House of Assembly and any revenue accruable therefrom is payable to the Lagos State Waterways Authority”

“We note with concern that the area of incursion of the Lagos State Government in this instance is the Lagos Lagoon and is thus not within the legislative competence of Lagos State”

“Going forward, may we respectfully request that you submit to us the intra state waterways that exist in Lagos State [outside the areas listed above]. This you will agree, will assist both the operators and regulators to understand the areas of influence and the enormous amount of energy dissipated over this issue may then abate”

Speaking at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos last week, the NIWA MD lamented that since the letter was written to the Lagos Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, no response has been given to NIWA on its request for the state to state its areas of operation.

“We have written to Lagos State Government, stating the areas granted to NIWA by the Court of Appeal, we also asked to reply us and tell us their own area of operations so that the operators would know who to pay revenue to” he said

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