Governor Rivers: Supreme Court sets hearing for January 15th

Supreme Court confirms FG's exclusive control of national inland waterways

The Supreme Court recognized that the control of activities on the nation's inland waterways, including collection of taxes and licensing of operators on the nation's inland waterways, belongs exclusively to the federal government.

The Supreme Court, in a judgment obtained by our correspondent, said it was wrong, illegal and unlawful for states to control the sector and seek to impose a levy on companies operating on the country's inland waterways. handed down a judgment.

The Act states that existing law gives exclusive control of activities on the country's inland waterways to federal government agencies (through the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Nigeria Maritime Standards and Safety Authority (NMSSA)) and other He claimed that the government had not been given any.

The judgment, written by Justice John Inyang Okoro and read by Justice Emmanuel Akomae Agim, is marked SC/CV/17/2018 submitted by NIWA, NMSSA, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, and the Minister of Transport. This is based on an appeal. .

The respondents to the appeal were the Lagos State Waterways, the State Waterfront Infrastructure Development Commissioner, the State Attorney General, the Lagos State Governor, the Corporate Director of the Nigeria Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transport Association, ATBOWTN, and the Corporation. Director of Dredgers Association of Nigeria, DAN.

The appeal, filed in 2018, was prosecuted on behalf of the appellants by a team of lawyers led by Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who is currently the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF and Minister of Justice.

The Supreme Court agreed with Fagbemi's contention that NIWA is the sole authority responsible for imposing, levying and charging fees along the declared waters of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority.

Furthermore, NIWA is a lawful and legitimate agency of the Federal Government and, under Articles 8 and 9 of NIWA, has exclusive control over all activities in navigable waters and national right of way for inland navigation. It added that it has the power to manage, direct and control. Activities.

The court held that the activities of the Lagos government and its agencies amounted to flagrant usurpation and illegal encroachment on the statutory functions of NIWA as waterways in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos State, fall under the established exclusive legislative list. agreed as well. It is found in Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.

It said only the Federal Government through Parliament can legislate effectively on maritime transport and navigation, adding that the Lagos State Government does not have the power to legislate on any subject on the Exclusive Legislation List.

The appellants also contend that the activities of the Lagos State Water Authority, LASWA, established by the Lagos Government through the enactment of the LASWA Act No. 14 of 2008 (LASWA 2008) by the Lagos State House of Assembly, include the regulation, development and all aspects of waterways in Lagos State. It is unconstitutional to control the

The court has determined that while the current law does not favor the Lagos government's claims regarding resource management, political stakeholders, including Congress, should consider ways to amend the law to address concerns raised by Lagos and others on this issue. He pointed out that there is a possibility of working on it.

The Supreme Court reinstated the March 28, 2014 judgment of the Lagos Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, and the July 18, 2017 judgment of the Court of Appeal (Lagos District) which set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court. The judgment was set aside. judgement.

The Court of Appeal held, inter alia, that inland waterways within Lagos State, which are not provided for in the National Inland Waterways Act, are within the legislative powers of the State House of Assembly and that the State may levy taxes/surcharges on operations on the waterways. The judgment was held. Start and end with state.

Faced with multiple prosecution regimes by both federal and Lagos government agencies, ATBOWTN and DAN filed FHC/L/CS/543 before the Federal High Court in Lagos in 2012 to determine which stage they belong to. filed a lawsuit marked /2012. Current law gives some parts of the government the power to license and levy taxes on operators of the nation's inland waterways.

In his judgment on this case, Justice Tsoho stated, inter alia, that NIWA and NMSSA are appropriate and lawful authorities with authority in matters relating to the commercial activities of ATBOWTN and DAN engaged in water tourism, water transport and sand dredging. I decided that there was. Within the nation's inland waterways.

Justice Tsoho blocked the Lagos State Water Board and the State Waterfront Infrastructure Development Board from further regulating the commercial activities of plaintiffs ATBOWTN and DAN.

However, Justice Tsoho's judgment was set aside by the Court of Appeal in a July 18, 2017 judgment on an appeal marked CA/L/886/2014 filed by the Lagos State Governor and three others.

Mr. NIWA and three others challenged the Court of Appeal's decision in the Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court's decision in a judgment dated 5 January 2024, and by Justice Tsoho of the Federal High Court on 28 March 2014. judgment was upheld.


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