Only FG Can Regulate Inland Waterways, Says NIWA

  • LASG: Claim is misleading

Jonathan Eze

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has urged members of the public to disregard the recent pronouncement 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 the state.

In a statement signed by its Managing Director, Boss Mustapha, thursday, NIWA clarified 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 the state.

NIWA however noted that such waterways do not exist in Lagos State because all bodies of waterways in the state are international, tidal, intra-coastal and/or inter-state waterways.

The statement read in parts: “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 Enterprises Limited 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.

NIWA added that it 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.”

Meanwhile, the state government has described NIWA’s claim on the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal setting aside the judgment of the Federal High Court and allowing the appeal of the state government as misleading.

In a statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the state government clarified that in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Hussein Mukhtar, the Court of Appeal indeed 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 the state except those inter-state waterways under item 5 in the 2nd Schedule of the National Inland Waterways Act.

Ayorinde added:”Any arguments to the contrary by NIWA are misconceived and should be disregarded. It is not in doubt that this judgment favours the state government and because the status quo has changed, is the reason for the purported notice of appeal referred to by NIWA.