Ex­perts sug­gest way out on wa­ter­ways

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - From Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, La­gos

There ap­pears no end in sight to the bick­er­ing be­tween the La­gos State Govern­ment and the Na­tional In­land Wa­ter­ways Author­ity (NIWA) over the con­trol of wa­ter­ways.

Since the July 18 Court of Ap­peal judg­ment on the con­tro­versy over who con­trolled the wa­ter­ways, both the state govern­ment and NIWA have in­ter­preted the ver­dict each in its favour.

The La­gos govern­ment said by the ver­dict, it now has ex­clu­sive power to reg­u­late water­way trans­porta­tion in­clud­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of boat op­er­a­tors and sand dredgers.

Gov­er­nor Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode, how­ever said at a re­cent func­tion that the era of un­con­trolled dredg­ing was over with the ver­dict.

The govern­ment moved fur­ther on Tues­day by is­su­ing a 7-day ul­ti­ma­tum to boat op­er­a­tors and dredgers to com­ply with all the rules and guide­lines con­cern­ing their op­er­a­tions.

The La­gos govern­ment is said to be con­cerned about the huge re­sources the state is los­ing from wa­ter­ways hence its de­ter­mi­na­tion to chal­lenge the Fed­eral Govern­ment to hands off.

A Fed­eral High Court had in a 2014 judge­ment struck out the case of La­gos govern­ment and de­clared NIWA as the author­ity rec­og­nized by law to reg­u­late the ac­tiv­i­ties in the wa­ter­ways. But NIWA called on stake­hold­ers to ig­nore the La­gos govern­ment’s claim, say­ing it was still in con­trol of wa­ter­ways in the state. It in­sists that all bod­ies of wa­ter­ways in La­gos State were in­ter­na­tional, tidal, in­tra-coastal and or in­ter-state wa­ter­ways.

“The Court of Ap­peal re­tained the power to reg­u­late in­ter­na­tional, in­tra-coastal and in­ter­state wa­ter­ways in NIWA un­der Ar­ti­cles 36 and 64 of the ex­clu­sive leg­isla­tive list of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion (as amended),” says NIWA Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Boss Mustapha.

As the con­tro­versy rages, ex­perts are of the opinion that the two par­ties should re­turn to the same Ap­peal Court to seek fur­ther and clearer in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the judg­ment or ap­proach the Apex Court.

A promi­nent La­gos based lawyer, Barr. Mon­day Ubani, told Daily Trust that the best way to douse the ten­sion was to ap­proach the court.

La­gos State Gov­er­nor Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode

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