The Area Manager, Lagos Area Office of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr Mu’azu Sambo, on Monday said the Federal High Court ruling that the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) creation cannot subsume NIWA has indicated that Lagos State has no jurisdiction over Nigerian waters.
Sambo disclosed this while chatting with newsmen in his office in Lagos.
He said that the judgment had shown that the waterways in Lagos are federal navigable waterways and covered by the NIWA Act.
“In essence, Justice Saliu Saidu ruled that Lagos State Government has no jurisdiction over the waterways in Lagos. You will recall that sometimes in 2008, Lagos State Government set to repeal the federal legislation that is the NIWA Act and in its place created the Lagos State Water Authority (LASWA). It is that action by the Lagos State Government that has now been declared illegal by the court,” he said.
Sambo stressed further that the verdict of the court had put to rest the simmering controversy over who should have jurisdiction over inland waterways in the country.
“Whether the waterways are in Lagos, in Port-Harcourt or in the Chad Basin, the federal government still controls it,” Sambo said.
NIWA had in December 2013 raised alarm over what it described as the illegal posturing of its territory by LASWA. It said that LASWA had no right to collect levies and taxes from operators of watercrafts on waters in Lagos state.
LASWA had however insisted that NIWA must harmonise its fees with that of the state agency, a step which the former vowed to resist.
While the argument ensued, Sambo had alleged that LASWA was established unlawfully to undermine the authority of NIWA. Sambo tagged LASWA an illegal creation that was not recognized by the law because it was a creation of the Lagos House of Assembly.