Osborne residents tackle Fashola over jetty operation

Residents of Osborne Foreshore Residential Estate II, Ikoyi, Lagos are currently in court seeking to stop the construction and operation of a commercial jetty and ferry services in the area.

The Lagos State Government said it embarked on the project to deliver on its electoral promises to the general masses “to procure, maintain and sustain facilities to make water transportation workable in the state.”

The state government said the commercial jetty, when fully operational, would cater to the needs of a percentage of the estimated 1.8 million or more Lagosians who ride on the existing jetties monthly.

It is also part of the grand plan of the project awarded in March 2008 that shopping facilities and a major bus stop for BRT would be built.

But the residents, under the auspices of The Incorporated Trustees of Osborne Foreshore Residents Association, said they were apprehensive that the commercial jetty, if built, would attract miscreants and thieves to the upscale community thereby undermining its existing security structure and exposing the residents to “the spate of insecurity within the nation today.”

Besides, it is their worry that having acquired from the Federal Government proprietary and property rights and having invested heavily to develop the estate, siting a commercial jetty there would distort the exclusivity of the community, leading to the devaluation of the properties, hence occasioning financial loss to the plaintiffs as investors in real estate.

Also, the residents argued that building a commercial jetty was not in consonance with the Federal Government original or master plan for “the gated and highly exclusive residential estate, wherein the plaintiffs had put up structures for their peaceful and quiet enjoyment.”

They had therefore asked Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos to make, among others, an order of perpetual injunction restraining Lagos State and its agents from going ahead with the said commercial jetty.

Already, by a court order of interim injunction dated November 7, 2014, the project is under restraint.

The defendants in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1609/2014 are the Lagos State Government; its Attorney-General; the Lagos State Waterways Authority; the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development; as well as the construction company contracted to execute the project, Hitech Construction Company Limited.

Also sued are the Federal Government of Nigeria; the Attorney General of the Federation; the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; the Federal Ministry of Transport; the Federal Ministry of Environment and the National Inland Waterways Authority.

The plaintiff, in their originating summons filed through their lawyer, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), sought 12 reliefs, including compensation in the sum of N2billion from Lagos State, its agents and the contractor handling the project.

The compensation demanded, the plaintiffs said, is to cover the alleged “violation and threatened violation of the residents’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to private and family life and the right to own property as provided for in sections 37 and 43 of the 1999 Constitution.”

The plaintiffs said they viewed the contemplated commercial jetty and ferry services as an infringement on their rights pursuant to Aricles 9 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap.10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

They recalled that the parcel of land on which the Lagos State Government intended to build the terminus for its commercial jetty was specifically set out in the Federal Government’s master plan for the estate as recreation ground for the use and common benefit of all residents of the estate.

Their lawyer argued that by virtue of the National Inland Waterways Authority Act, Cap N47, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, only the National Inland Waterways Authority had the vested power to control and manage intra-coastal routes, “including but not limited to the intra-coastal routes from Badagry, along the Badagry Creek to Lagos, through Lagos Lagoon to Epe, Lekki Lagoon to Iwopin, along Omu Creek.”

In their own objection, the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation vehemently opposed the plaintiffs’ prayer for an order of mandatory injunction against them to make them to wake up to their statutory duty of protecting the plaintiffs.

They, however, maintained that exclusive authority over the property in dispute was vested in the Federal Government and its agents, adding that Lagos State did not, at any time, approach them for approval and was never given any approval before embarking on the project

Justice Buba reserved judgment in the matter till March 2, 2015.

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