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Reps wade into Lagos, inland waterways authority land dispute

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Waterways

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways have intervened in the land dispute between Lagos State Government and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) located at Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1 area of the State.
 
Permanent Secretary, Lands Bureau, Mr. Bode Agoro,  at the three day investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways at the National Assembly, in Abuja said that NIWA illegally placed and authorised placement of vessels and containers on land belonging to the State through the already nullified provisions of its enabling statute.

He affirmed that all land comprised in the territory of Lagos State is vested in the Governor who holds same in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of the Land Use Act.

Agoro informed the Committee that by virtue of Designation of Urban Areas Order dated 2nd March, 1981, all the different areas and names located on the Lagos State Regional Plan (1980- 2000) of the Lagos State of Nigeria are designated as urban areas, thereby placing all land in Lagos State under the control and management of the Governor. 

He stated that the parcels of land in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki and Apapa to mention a few, were either acquired by Colonial Administration through Crown Ordinance which is now State Land Law Chapter S11, Laws of Lagos State 2015, while the Governor, through the Land Use and Allocation Committee, has the power to allocate land in conformity with the provision of the Land Use Act for residential, industrial, commercial, or institutional purposes. 

The Permanent Secretary however conceded that the Federal Military Government through Decree No 52 of 1993 compulsorily acquired the parcel of land within 100 metres limit of the shoreline and all land reclaimed near the lagoon, sea or ocean in or bordering Nigeria.  

Agoro explained that Decree No 52 is now contained in Lands  (Title Vesting, etc ) Act, Cap L7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 , Act which is now incorporated in section 13 of the National Inland Waterways Authority Act, Cap N47, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

His words: “This compulsory acquisition of land as described in The Lands  ( Title Vesting, etc) Act, was challenged in Suit No FHC/ FHC/ CS/ 669/95, by Elegushi Chieftaincy family and others at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided over by Honorable Justice T. A. Odunowo where in the Court declared the acquisition i.e Decree No 52 of 1993 null and void.” 

Responding, the General Manager, Lagos Zone of the National Inland Waterways Authority, Muazu Sambo, told the Committee that all navigable waterways, inland waterways, river ports and internal waters of Nigeria, excluding all direct approaches to the ports listed in the Third Schedule to the NIWA Act and all other waters declared to be approaches to ports under or pursuant to the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, up to 250 metres beyond the upstream edge of the quay of such ports, are under the exclusive management, direction and control of NIWA.  

He noted that a subsisting Court of Appeal decision in G. M Enterprises Limited vs C.R. investment Ltd held that NIWA has been conferred with far reaching power and right to control, develop, manage and use all the lands navigable waterways, inland waterways and river ports throughout Nigeria.  

In a swift reaction on behalf of the Lagos State Government, Mr. Emmanuel Akande, Director and Head of Legal, Lands Bureau, noted that the Court of Appeal decision in G. M Enterprises Limited vs C.R. investment Ltd relates to the validity of the NIWA Act and not the interpretation of Section 12 and 13, and stressed that the Lands  (Title Vesting etc) Act has been declared null and void by a Court of competent jurisdiction.

He therefore concluded that NIWA was created by the National Inland Waterways Act, which was enacted in 1997 after the promulgation of the Land Use Act in 1978, and so, cannot benefit from the provision of section 49 (1).

After listening to both parties, the Committee, headed by Hon. Patrick Asadu, expressed dissatisfaction over the insufficiency of documents furnished by NIWA in support of the claim and concluded on reconvening at a later date for further deliberation with a view to reaching an amicable solution.


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