By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The maritime industry may be in for another explosive tug of war between the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Lagos State government.
The issue is over dredging activities and the federal agency is spiting fire, saying it is ready to consume the Lagos State House of Assembly, which has triggered the latest fight.
Already, NIWA has sent a letter to the Lagos State government, with copies sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; and Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.
The waterways regulatory agency said it will not accept any attempt by the Lagos parliament to overstep its mandate on the extant mining laws of the federal government, which mandates only NIWA to oversight access through the waterways.
In the letter, NIWA said the state legislative arm of government was making moves to ambush its regulatory powers and at the same time interfere in the activities of dredging companies through the composition of a seven-man committee to investigate and make recommendations on dredging activities in Lagos State.
According to the letter signed by the Managing Director of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu, on Tuesday, the agency called on the Lagos State government to caution the leadership of its State House of Assembly to stop forthwith the current posturing which it claimed was a clear breach of a peaceful resolution between NIWA and Lagos State government over a clash of interest on dredging and sundry waterway matters.
Detailing the background to the current impasse, Mr Moghalu stated that, “As a prelude to the full understanding of the matter under reference, you would recall that there was a recent clash between National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Lagos State Waterfront and Infrastructure Development during which our staff and indeed companies registered with us were arrested by your staff and arraigned before special offences court, the resolution of that imbroglio I believe is still under consideration.”
Warning, however, that Lagos State House of Assembly attempt may position logs in the ongoing efforts to reach an amicable settlement of vexed issues at hand, the NIWA boss drew the attention of the state government to the extant laws on Minerals and Mining Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which clearly states that where there are issues arising from the operations of any licenced operator of the Federal Government, Section 141 of the Act and sections 15, 16 and 17 of the regulation made pursuant to the above Act has made copious provision for its resolution.
He further informed the Lagos State government that a ruling of the court of Appeal in Mining cadastral office vs Petroleum and Transport Investment LTD and another (2018) LPEIR 46046 which cleared the air on the vexed issue and further recognizes waterway use permit exclusively within the ambit of NIWA.
“May I in simple words, emphasize that matters within the exclusive list of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are outside the legislative competence of the State government as they are within the competence of the National assembly,” Mr Moghalu restated, urging the state government to respectfully forward his observation to the leadership of the State House of Assembly.
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