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Supreme Court Grants NIWA exclusive right to control Nigerian inland waterways

Licensing and control of all inland waterways spanning more than 10,000 kilometres in the country has been restored to National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in a ruling by the Supreme Court on Friday,  January 5, 2024.

By this judgement, Lagos State and some littoral states are to abide by the judgement.

Before now, there had been a protracted legal tussle between the Federal Government and Lagos  State Government over which of them controls waterways in Lagos with huge economic potential.

However, the latest judgement has empowered NIWA to control, regulate  and sanitise boat operators and dredgers in all the nation’s waterways.

It also grants the authority  to generate more revenue into the coffers of the Federal Government.

In a  judgement written and delivered by Hon. Justice John Inyang  Okoro, the apex court refused to be drawn into the argument of resource control, insisting that such  extensions belong to politicians, who have the power of amendment of the construction.

According to him, until the applicable sections of the Nigerian constitution are amended, the court will restrict itself to its duty to interpret the law as it is.

Before the latest judgement,  NIWA had contended with  Lagos State Government  that the lagoon and Lekki lagoons were exclusively within its control, stessing that any illegal activities within  NIWA Right of Way would not be tolerated

Based on a 2014 judgement captured in suit CA/L/886/2014- Lagos Waterways Authority and 3 ORS V INC Trustees of Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria and 5 ORS, the right of all waterways in Nigeria and shorelines was ceded to NIWA.

The authority noted in a statement that it  “shall within the laws and constitutional provisions,  ensure that it keeps trespassers out of its Right of Way (RoW) and may  where necessary deploy the federal might to bring the oppositions to adhere to do right things and to stop further intimidation of federal government licensed stakeholders.

“it is instructive that we bear in mind that the law as it stands today, and encapsulated in the court of appeal judgement states clearly  the areas of competence of both governments -Federal and State in the following words- Item 5 in the second schedule to the National Inland Waterways Act was 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 Lively to Ajilete , Akata, Aboko, Arogbo, Ofunama Benin Creek to Warri, also the canal running from Araromi through Aiyetoro. Imelumo to Benin River and from Aiyetoro through Mahin Lagoon to Igbokoda.”

In addition, NIWA explained that the  route runs through International and states boundaries and was therefore consistent with being an item on the exclusive legislative list, adding that revenue accruable from this federal route would be payable to the authority.

Commending the Supreme Court judgement, the Managing  Director  of the authority,  Mr Bola Oyebamiji, said that all NIWA was established for was to harness the potentials of the sector,, one that the apex court ruling has now given teeth.

“This judgement has come at a time Mr President gave directives to maximize the benefits of the sector in all the ways it will enhance the economy and empower Nigerians.

“With President Tinubu”s determination to open up the economy through the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy under the leadership of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola as the Minister,  this judgement will bolster our efforts and help to facilitate the processes of developing the sector. ” Oyebamiji said.

The NIWA helmsman went on to explain that the judgement is about consolidation of water transportation, tourism and sundry economic empowerment of the people, and not about who won or lost at the Supreme Court.

“This is not about who owns what won or lost. This is about Nigeria and Nigerians benefitting from our God-given endowment.  It is about the common good and rebuilding the sector for greater opportunities.

A nation cannot be this blessed with navigable coastal line without exploring and maximizing the benefits for the good of all. So, this is not about a court victory.  This is about the greater good and the need for us to explore the potentials of our inland waterways for the benefit of our people.

“If we put to good use Nigeria’s  potential in the coastal areas in the area of transportation for instance, it will reduce the pressure on our roads and improve citizen interactions.”

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Lagos clampdown on illegal estate development

The Lagos State Government has clamped down on illegal estate developments around the Epe corridor of the state.

The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Oluyinka Olumide, said this in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.

He stated that he led a special joint exercise to the axis on Thursday and Friday, based on the directive of the state executive council.

He mentioned some of the areas covered during the exercise to include: Alaro City, Okorisan, Igbodu, Molajoye, Shaala, Ketu, and Epe.

Olumide said notices were also served on estate developments such as Patriot Bay Estate, Smart City Estate, the Legend and Hilton Royal Garden.

Others are Greenland Estate, Legacy City, Isinmi Lagos, Dominion City, Topview Estate, and Ibi Alafia, among others.

He pointed out that erring estate developers were requested to visit relevant authorities to perfect their documents.

According to him, under no circumstances should any developer go ahead to start the development of estates without obtaining layout approval, planning permit, and fencing permit as may be required.

The commissioner added that the requirements were necessary to ensure the attainment of an organised, livable and sustainable built environment.

Olumide explained that layout approval was required for proper arrangement of the estate to give room for appropriate services and infrastructure, while the planning permit addressed the planning requirements on individual plots in the estate.

He urged property up-takers and buyers to be wary of investing in estates without approval, to avoid needless embarrassment from government officials.

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Police detain ADC to Fmr. Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello

The aide-de-camp (ADC) to former Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, has been arrested and detained by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

The Female police officer and others were arrested days after the former governor evaded arrest by EFCC operatives on Wednesday, April 17.

The officers were taken into custody on suspicion of aiding and abetting Bello’s escape from EFCC operatives.

The anti-graft agency had stormed Bello’s house to arrest him over allegations of money laundering and financial misconduct while in office.

The Nigeria Police Force has yet to release an official statement regarding the arrests, but police sources say the officers could face charges related to obstruction of justice or conspiracy to hinder a law enforcement operation.

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Zamfara govt suspends commandant state security outfit over allegations of poor funding

The Zamfara State Government has suspended the Commandant of the local security outfit, Community Protection Guards, CPG, Colonel Rabiu Garba (retd).

This is contained in a statement issued by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mallam Abubakar Nakwadahe and made available to newsmen in Gusau, the State capital.

The statement said in part, “This is to inform the general public that, Zamfara State government has suspended Colonel Rabiu Garba as Commandant of the state Community Protection Guards”.

“The suspension takes immediate effect”.

According to DAILY POST no reason for his suspension was given but it was gathered that the suspension may not be unconnected with the radio live program he granted where he accused the state government of poor funding of the Community Protection Guards.

In a radio live program at the Vision FM radio Gusau, Colonel Garba said the state government has failed to give financial support to the Protection Guards.

He lamented that since their inauguration, the state government has not provided them with any takeoff grant.

Garba also said the officials of the protection guards were paid their salary only once since they were appointed four months ago.

He said members of the Community Protection Guards have been suffering from poor funding from the state government, a situation which he said has been crippling their activities in the fight against banditry.

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