A Lagos-based marine transport company, Tarzan Marine Enterprises, has reached out to the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode for intervention over alleged takeover of its jetties by the Lagos Waterways Authority (LASWA).
Last Saturday, officials of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) reportedly demolished the operating offices of Tarzan Marine Enterprises, at Queens Drive, Ikoyi.
This came after the Managing Director of LASWA, Ms Abisola Kamson, in a press statement in Lagos last week, said that Messrs Tarzan was served an eviction notice on its operation in Ijede and Badore jetties.
The firm sought the intervention of Governor Ambode through its lawyer Ebun-Olu Adeghoruwa, in a petition over the alleged invasion and forceful takeover of Tarzan jetties by state officials.
The lawyer, in a letter dated June 20, asked the Lagos governor to prevail upon the state’s agents, saying that the invasion of his client’s property was unlawful, especially as the control of the waterways was still a subject of litigation between Lagos State and the Federal Government.
According to him, Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court had in a judgment on March 28, 2014 declared that “the Federal Government of Nigeria is vested with exclusive power by the 1999 Constitution to administer activities within the coastal waters and the inland waters of Nigeria”; a judgment which Lagos State had however appealed.
Adegboruwa said, “Whilst that appeal is still pending before the Court of Appeal, officials of the Lagos State Waterfront Ministry and the Lagos State Waterways Authority, with armed policemen, swooped upon the Ikoyi jetty of our client, on Friday, June 17, 2016.
“There was no prior notice of this invasion. All efforts made by our client to verify the cause of the sudden invasion were rebuffed, as the invaders claimed that they were acting on the orders of His Excellency, the Governor. They took photographs, made video recordings and left.”
“Not long thereafter, they came back to the Ikoyi jetty around 4pm to post a sticker, which demanded that structures and boats on the land be removed within 24 hours!”
“Around 8am on Saturday, June 18, 2016, LASG officials stormed our client’s jetty at Ikoyi, with armed policemen, with bulldozers, with cranes, low bed carriers, trucks, lifters, etc, and commenced demolition of vital structures in the jetty. They lifted about 15 boats parked within the premises, some of which were wilfully damaged.”
He alleged that the invasion was made while a suit filed on June 10 by his client to stop his forceful eviction was still pending before the Federal High Court.
While urging Ambode to uphold the rule of law which he enjoyed when the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court upheld his victory, Adegboruwa said Lagos State could only benefit from efforts of private individuals who are into water transportation in the face of worsening traffic gridlocks on Lagos roads.
Meanwhile, speaking with one of our correspondents, the Chairman of Tarzan Marine Enterprises, Mr. Ganiyu Balogun, said his company has not breached any contract with the Lagos State Government.
He said Tarzan Marine obtained 25 years concession from the Lagos State Government ten years ago and the contract has more fifteen years to run before expiry.
He said, “It is strange that LASWA went to demolish our operating base barely one day after telling the public that it was serving us with an eviction notice. This shows that they did not come for any international best practice like they claim; they just came to forcefully grab a legally acquired land from a law-abiding business man who has been working for the good of Lagos State for the past three decades.
“Under the administration of former Governor Bola Tinubu, Tarzan Marine secured a 25 years lease to operate a jetty. During the past administration of former Governor Fashola we showed evidence of this running lease, and was duly acknowledged. It was a legal agreement supervised by the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
“This is why it is baffling that the Lagos State Waterways Authority suddenly declared that my lease was not legitimate. I quickly lodged a formal complaint with NIWA who has been empowered by the 1996 act cap L47 section 10, 11, 12, and 13 to control, develop, manage, and use all lands 100metres perpendicular from the shore line in Nigeria.
“But interestingly the NIWA officials were told by LASWA that the remaining 15 years in the lease is invalidated, whatever that means.
“I decided to go to court after observing these ambiguities and hidden agenda. But lo and behold, it is now that the matter is in court that the Lagos State government hastily made a decision to eject us, and just after a day after the so-called notice, rushed in with bulldozers to demolish our business structures. Where in the world is this kind of thing done?”