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

Olajide Ajana, a real estate advisor and attorney based in Lagos, claimed that the recent ruling by the Supreme Court over the Federal and Lagos governments’ contention over control of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) had grave ramifications.

According to Ajana, this relates to several sand-filling initiatives within Lagos State’s inland waterways, especially around Orange Island and the Lekki area.
In a historic ruling rendered on January 5, 2024, in the case of NIWA & others vs. Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), governor of Lagos State & ATTORN. GEN. of Lagos State, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, with the support of four other Supreme Court Justices, declared the 2008 Lagos State Waterways Authority Law to be invalid.
The Court of Appeals It is observed that the opinions of Femi Okunnu (SAN) in his book “Contemporary State land matters in Nigeria” are largely cited by the attorneys representing the first through fourth respondent in the Lagos State case, who contend that the state’s waterways do not fall under item 36 of the constitution and are the learned author’s personal opinion.

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Act, being a Federal law, must prevail whilst the similar statute established by the Lagos State act of Assembly must be and is now declared null and void, the Court said, holding that two enactments cannot and must not exist side by side.
The attorney responded by saying, “Among the universal fundamental principles of law is the “Relating the above principle of law to the recent Court decision clearly means that Lagos State Government does not possess the power to issue Title or any form of license to anyone within the zones and areas that falls within the Inland Waterways, which includes all waterways.” MAXIM: Nemo dat quod no habet, which means “No one can give what he doesn’t have.” Lakes, rivers, creeks, tiled ground, and lagoons below the water’s edge
“Therefore, claims to the aforementioned lands made by Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi and others holding titles issued by the Lagos State Government are without merit because the laws Lagos State relied upon have been deemed invalid to the degree that they conflict with federal laws.laws. You can’t put something on nothing and expect it to stand, according to EX NIHIL FIT.

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