A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos yesterday declared that the Lagos State government has no constitutional right to control any commercial activities on the waterways within the state. The court then restrained the state government from seeking to control such commercial activities on the waterways in Lagos State. The presiding judge, Justice John Tsoho, gave the order in a suit number FHC/L/CS/543/12, filed by Incorporated Trustees of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria, and Incorporated Dredgers Association.
The plaintiffs, through their counsel, Mr. Adejare Kembi, had sought, among other things, an order restraining the Lagos State government or its agents from controlling their commercial activities or collecting any fees or toll from them as they claimed that such fees or tolls are being collected by the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA. They had also sought an order declaring the action of the Lagos State government by collecting fees from them as illegal. In his judgement, Justice Tsoho, held that the waterway in the country belongs to the federal government and that the Lagos State government or its agency had no constitutional or legal right to control the commercial activities of the plaintiffs on the waterways in the state.
The judge further held that it was only the federal government, through NIWA. that has legal and constitutional rights to control the commercial activities of the plaintiffs on the waterways in the country. Justice Tsoho said: “It is hereby declared that the fifth and sixth defendants, federal government and Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA), are the proper and lawful agencies with the authority in matter relating to the plaintiffs, the Incorporated Trustees of Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria, and Incorporated Dredgers Association of Nigeria. “The first and second defendants, (Lagos state government and Lagos Inland Waterways Authority, LIWA), are hereby restrained from seeking to control such commercial activities of the plaintiffs.”