Inland waterways judgment
Inland waterways judgment

The Supreme Court reaffirming the power of the Federal Government through the National Inland Waterways Authority to control the activities on the country’s waterways.

Olajide Ajana, while addressing journalists in his Lagos Office recently, was quoted as saying that the interpretation of the judgment meant that the lands in Lagos belong to the Federal Government and the state government cannot issue any titled document on the land.

Recall that NIWA and Lagos State through the Lagos State Waterways Authority had been in a legal battle over who had regulatory rights over the country’s waterways.

But the Supreme Court recently ruled in favour of NIWA.

Justice John Okoro, in a judgment delivered in Abuja, validated an earlier ruling by the Federal High Court in suit number FHC/CS/543/2012, which pronounced NIWA as the authentic authority over Nigerian inland waterways.

He urged the Lagos State Government and its agencies and any other state in the country to stay away from regulatory activities on Nigerian inland waterways.

Reacting to the judgment, the lawyer explained that the Supreme Court had confirmed that the control of activities on the nation’s inland waterways, including levying, and licensing operators in the sector belonged exclusively to the Federal Government and its agencies.

“The existing law gives exclusive control of activities in the nation’s inland waterways to the Federal Government through its agencies. NIWA is the only agency of the Federal Government with the power to exclusively manage, direct and control all activities of the navigable waterways, according to Sections 8 and 9 of NIWA Act.

“The Supreme Court agrees with Fagbemi’s argument that NIWA is the only agency that is saddled with the responsibility to levy, impose, and share the rate of utilitilisation of inland waterways authority,” he noted.

Also, a maritime lawyer, Emeka Akabugo, said that by the judgment, the apex court validated what should be the case.

“The Supreme Court effectively validated what should be the case. The law as it is gives NIWA the right to control inland waterways activities and (states) trying to manage operations of the inland waterways is wrong. So, what the apex court has done was to validate what was the actual position under the existing law, which is the National Inland Waterways Authority Law and the Constitution,” he said.

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