A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt Rivers State, last week ruled that management and control of Inland waterways in Nigeria remain exclusively within the control of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), according to a press release by Jubril Dardau, NIWA’s spokesman.
The face-off in the matter dated back to 2007 when the Lagos State House of Assembly repealed the NIWA Act and replaced it with the Lagos State Waterways Authority Act, sparking a legal challenge that is still pending at the Supreme Court.
In the present ruling,the NIWA press release stated that “The Federal High Court of Nigeria in the Port Harcourt Judicial Division holding at Port Harcourt before his Lordship Hon. Justice I.S Mark in his judgment recently orders that a state government has no authority/power to legislate on (and enforce compliance with its legislation that affects) the use, management, and control of Inland waterways in Nigeria as it is exclusively within the control of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) by virtue of the constitution and the Act establishing NIWA by the National Assembly.
“The judge gave the order in the Suit No: FHC/PH/CS/142/2022 between Bright Waters Energy Limited (plaintiff) and the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, River State, the Hon. Commissioner of Environment, Rivers State and Petroleum Financial Corporate (PFC) as (defendants),” the statement read.
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has reiterated that no state government in the country has the power or authority to legislate over inland waterways.
Meanwhile a LASWA enforcement unit last week, at the Bariga jetty, arrested a passenger boat carrying 32 passengers, including children, who did not wear life jackets.
The captain claimed that they were going to a church event in the vicinity.
The General Manager of LASWA, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, who confirmed the incident, warned passengers never to board a boat without wearing life jackets.
In his words, “The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) will continue to fish out operators who go against the safety guidelines put in place by the authority to secure lives and property on the waterways.
“We also implore all passengers to NEVER board a boat without wearing a good life jacket properly, even if you think you are a good swimmer. A good life jacket ensures that you stay safe in case of a boat mishap on the waterways. Your lives are important to us, please follow all safety guidelines when traveling on water.”
Apparently, the last is yet to be heard on the NIWA/LASWA legal challenge.