The Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Mr Muhammed Sambo stated this in an interview with Naija247news.
NIWA’s response is coming on the heels of a statement by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, that NIWA had no constitutional authority or statutory power to assess properties in Lagos for payment of any tax, levy, fee or tariff.
Sambo said property owners along the shorelines in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and other parts of the state should disregard the statement of the Attorney General on payment of dues and levies on the shorelines.
He said, “All property owners served demand notice by NIWA are advised to ignore the statement of the Attorney General of Lagos State on payment of dues and levies because the payments are unlawful and unconstitutional.’’
Sambo said that the property owners should continue to comply with the directives of NIWA as they had been doing.
He also said the Land Use Act of the country was subservient to the NIWA Act.
“Section 13 makes the Land Use Act subservient to the NIWA Act.
“There are certain provisions in the NIWA Act that give the authority the power to collect levies and charges from property owners whose properties border the waterways.
“Also, we all know that the NIWA Act has been validly enacted by the National Assembly.
“The Act drew its power from the Constitution. Section 13 makes the Land Use Act subject to the NIWA Act. That law is subservient to the NIWA Act,’’ Sambo said.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has what we call Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual list.
“The Exclusive list is made of items over which only the National Assembly can legislate on and these include maritime, shipping and navigation.
“In the Exclusive list are inland waterways as designated by the National Assembly and by virtue of this provision, the National assembly, no state government can legislate on the Exclusive list.
He said that NIWA would drag the Attorney-General of the state to court over contempt for issuing a directive on an issue already before the court.
“They (Lagos State) lost at the Federal High Court. They appealed, so why can they not wait for the decision of the court before giving another directive.
“So, in a nutshell, They should wait for the outcome of the appeal before contemplating other action , or else, NIWA will approach the court and charge Ipaye for contempt of court,’’ Sambo said.
It should be recalled that the Lagos State Government, through its Attorney General advised property owners along the shorelines in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and other parts of the state not to pay taxes, levies or tariffs to NIWA.
Ipaye said that under the Constitution, the power to assess privately-owned houses or tenements for rates was vested in local government authorities by virtue of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The local government councils in Lagos State have neither delegated this power to NIWA nor appointed NIWA to act for them in this regard,’’ he said
The state government reacted to petitions from concerned property owners in the Ikoyi and Victoria Island areas of the state who were allegedly served with demand notices for payments by NIWA.
The state government said it had carefully reviewed the applicable legislation setting up NIWA.
It said, “It is our considered view that its functions do not extend to the assessment, regulation or taxation of properties that are not obstructing any declared waterways