Dredgers drag Lagos AG, Agency to court for contempt

Dredgers drag Lagos AG, Agency to court for contempt

Monday, February 22, 2016 11:22 am

A local sand dredger

A local sand dredger

Henry Ojelu

The Incorporated Trustees of Dredgers Association of Nigeria has instituted a contempt proceeding against the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner of Water Front Infrastructure Development over an alleged disobedience of court orders barring the state from regulating their activities.

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had in a judgment in 2014 in a suit filed by the Dredgers Association along with Boat Operators against the Lagos State Water Ways Authority held that the Lagos State Government and its relevant agencies had no power to regulate the activities of Dredgers.

Joined in the suit as co-defendants were Lagos State Governor, Lagos Commission of Water Front Infrastructure Development, Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, National Inland Waterways Authority and the Nigerian Maritime Standard and Safety Agency.

Also joined in the suit were Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Minister of Transport and Attorney-General of the Federation.

In the suit, the Dredgers and their Boat Operator counterpart had contended that the demand for payment for their operations by the Lagos State Waterways Authority, Lagos Ministry of Waterway Infrastructure Development, National Inland Wateways Authority and NIMASA amounts to multiple charges and therefore unlawful.

The two associations sought the court interpretation of relevant laws and a declaration of which agency should regulate their activities.

Delivering judgment, Justice J.T Tsoho declared that the National Inland Waterways Authority and NIMASA were the proper and lawful agencies with authority in matters relating to the commercial activities of both associations.

Justice Tsoho subsequently restrained the Lagos Waterways Authority and Attorney General from seeking to control the two bodies.

However, following a recent publication by the Lagos Ministry of Water Front Infrastructural Development outlining the requirements for registration of Dredgers in the state, the association has now began a contempt proceeding against the agency and the state Attorney General.

The contempt notice dated February 16 states: “take notice that unless you obey the order of court restraining you from seeking to control the commercial activities if the judgment creditor as contemplating in your notice ‘Requirement for the registration of Dredgers and Dredging Operations terms and conditions’ you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prisons.”

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