By Innocent Orok
The Federal government regulatory agency on Inland Waterways in Nigeria, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has stoutly faulted the assertions of Lagos Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Moyosoro Onigbanjo, SAN on the subsisting judgement of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on appeal number CA/L/886/2014, delivered on July 18, 2017.
According to the Attorney General, Justice Muktar JCA had stated in the lead judgement on the case that “All other Inland Waterways within Lagos State are within legislative competence of Lagos state House of Assembly and revenue there from accruable to Lagos Waterways Authority” nothing LHSA is competent to make laws in respect of same.
Onigbanjo had drawn the attention of NIWA to the assertions of the Appeal Court as the major plank to Lagos State Government response to the letter written by Dr George Moghalu, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority, pleading to restrain Lagos legislators from ambushing its mandate by setting up committee to investigate dredging activities in the state, which Onigbanjo noted has the backing of the Court of Appeal.
However, NIWA in swift reply and focal drive to put issues in proper perspective, told the Lagos Attorney General to carefully revisit the content of the judgment which he may had read in a haste or inadvertently did not accord the ruling deep consideration.
Dr George Moghalu, the boss of NIWA noted that contrary to the assertions of Lagos State Government, the Appeal Court judgement favoured its regulation of the waterways.
According to him, the court had in clear terms and without any ambiguity stated and held on page 27 of the copious judgement that ” items 5 in the second schedule to the NIWA Act is the relevant provision for the navigable route that falls under Exclusive Legislative List and it provides that” the intra coastal route from Badagry, along the Badagry Creek to Lagos through Lagos Lagoon to Iwopin along Omu River/Creek, Talifa kivel to Ajelete, Akata, Aboko, Oluwa River to Okitipipa and on Gbekebo, Arogbo, Ofunama Benin Creek to Warri. Also the canal running from Araromi through Aiyetoro, through Mahin Lagoon to Igbokoda.
Moghalu further drew the attention of Lagos State Government to the fact that the route run through International and States boundaries and therefore is consistent with the provisions of the constitution being items on the Exclusive List and which the Court of Appeal held “that revenue accruable from the federal route is payable to Federal Inland Waterways Authority”
The NIWA boss further flagged the empathic ruling of the Court of Appeal, and challenged Lagos State Government to furnish him with intra waterways which exists in Lagos, outside item 5, second schedule of the NIWA Act.
To broaden the scope of the engagement, NIWA noted with concern the very deliberate efforts of Lagos State Government to over reach itself on Lagos lagoon which clearly is outside its legislative competence, requesting that Lagos Government seek a second opinion on the true meaning of dredging which the Minerals Act defined as “Sand Mining” , an activity within the exclusive ambit of the Federal Government.
” These positions” stated Dr George Moghalu becomes inevitable as areas in contention falls on the Court of Appeal declared route which did not confer any jurisdictional authority to Lagos State government.