Supreme Court judgment on NIWA control has dire consequences, says Ajana

Lagos-based lawyer and real estate advisor, Olajide Ajana, has said the recent position of the Supreme Court in its judgment between the Lagos State Government and Federal Government over control of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has several dire consequences, concerning the many sand filling projects going on within the inland waterways in Lagos State, particularly at the Lekki axis and Orange Island of the state.

The Supreme Court noted that the views expressed by Femi Okunnu in his book ‘’Contemporary State Land Matters in Nigeria” in the case of Lagos State, are heavily relied on by counsel for the first to the fourth respondent to argue that waterways in Lagos State do not come under item 36 of the constitution and are the opinion of the learned author.

The Court held that both enactments must not and cannot subsist side by side. ”The NIWA Act being a Federal law must prevail, whereas the identical law enacted by the Lagos State Act of Assembly must be and is hereby declared null and void.”

Reacting, the lawyer said, “One of the universal fundamental principles of Law is the MAXIM: Nemo dat quod non habet which means ‘No one can give what he doesn’t have’.

Relating the above principle of Law to the recent Court decision means that the Lagos State Government does not possess the power to issue title or any license to anyone within the zones and areas that fall within the inland waterways which include all waterways, rivers, creeks, lakes, tiled land and lagoons below the water-based line.”

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