The Supreme Court has ruled that the Federal Government has exclusive control over the nation’s inland waterways, stating it’s unlawful for states to impose levies on businesses operating in this sector.
The judgment, delivered on the appeal SC/CV/17/2018, nullifies the Court of Appeal’s decision favouring Lagos State.
The appeal, filed in 2018, was prosecuted for the appellants by a team of lawyers led by Lateef Fagbemi, now the Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice.
Respondents to the appeal were the Lagos State Waterways Authority, the state’s Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, the state’s Attorney-General, the Governor of Lagos State, the Incorporated Trustees of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transportation of Nigeria, and the Incorporated Trustees of Dredgers Association of Nigeria.
The legal battle over the control of inland waterways began in 2012 when the Lagos State Government, in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/543/2012, dragged the Federal Government before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Existing laws grant exclusive control to the Federal Government through agencies like the National Inland Waterways Authority and the Nigerian Maritime Standard and Safety Agency.