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Activists commend Lagos government for reviewing new environment law

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Akinbode Oluwafemi

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended the Lagos State government for discarding the “anti-people” sections of the new Environment Law that attracted wide criticisms from civil society organisations and grassroots stakeholders.

Sections of the law made public at a Public Hearing organised by House Committee on the Environment on February 9, 2017 include provisions that gave over-bearing powers to the Commissioner for Environment, criminalizing the sinking of boreholes, imposition of fines of N100,000 on defaulters and prison terms for anyone that sells or transports water, among others.

It also had a booby trap woven into an irrevocable standing order on payments to contractors and concessions.Civil society and grassroots stakeholders had also faulted the lack of consultation of a broad spectrum of stakeholders and Lagos citizens before the Public Hearing and the hasty passage of the bill by the Lagos House of Assembly on February 20.  

The groups also alerted on the inaccessibility of the law more than two weeks after the March 1 signing by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, ERA/FoEN said it received the final version of the law at the weekend pointing out that the removal of controversial sections of the law was a “positive moment” for the Ambode administration and the House of Assembly.

Deputy Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “We are impressed that the Lagos State government allowed the voice of the people to prevail in its decision to finally expunge sections of the new Environment Law that are clearly anti-people and may have been sneaked into the document by proponents of Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for the water sector.”

Oluwafemi explained that the provocative sections would have made Lagos citizens victims of the failure of successive administrations to sustainably invest in the water sector.

“By discarding them, the Governor Ambode administration has demonstrated that it is a listening one and we commend this,” he added.While warning that the language of the new law was still deliberately skewed towards full privatization of the water sector he said the removal of anti-people provisions in the Environment law does not translate to total freedom for Lagosians.



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