By Innocent Anaba

Lagos—A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, has assumed jurisdiction in the suit  by Okobaba Timber Dealers, Sawyers, Towing Vessel Owners and other stakeholders over the proposed demolition of the timber and their relocation from the Okobaba Foreshore, Ebute Metta, Lagos to Ijede area of Ikorodu.

The timber dealers, had through their counsel, Mr  Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, prayed the court  to declare that Lagos State Government has no authority over any land situate and being within the 100 metres of all declared navigable inland waterways, such as the Lagos Lagoon, which is under the jurisdiction of the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA.

But the Lagos State Government in a preliminary objection, asked the court to dismiss the suit.

Ruling on the preliminary objection, trial judge, Justice Justice Anka, reviewed all laws covering the subject matter and held that by virtue of the Land (Title Vesting) Decree and the National Inland Waterways Authority Act, the Federal Government has been vested with exclusive power and authority over all land within 100 metres of a declared navigable waterway, including the Okoboba Foreshore in Ebute-Metta.

The court held that the case of the timber dealers was not one of title to land but rather the administration of land within the inland waterways.

In dismissing the preliminary objection,  the court held that since there was no evidence before it to challenge the case of the timber dealers that they were empowered in their location by NIWA, only the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction to entertain the case of the plaintiffs.

In the substantive suit, the timber dealers in the suit, are challenging their forceful eviction by the Lagos State Government, to be relocated to an abandoned and uncompleted location in far away Ijede area of Ikorodu.

They are contending that they were being excluded from all negotiations and arrangements in a matter in which their interests were involved.


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