The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development yesterday gave reasons for prompting duly licensed dredgers operating in Lagos state to disregard a recent ruling of the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos which purportedly issued a stop work order to their dredging activities, stating that as licensed operators, their activities are within the ambit of the law.
In a statement made available to our correspondent, signed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mohammed Abbas, the ministry encouraged dredgers who are licensed to continue their activities without fear of intimidation.
He disclosed that the ministry’s legal team are currently studying the judgement.
Giving further reasons, the Permanent Secretary said: “It is trite to state that by virtue of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended), federal laws in respect of administration of mining activities and utility of inland waterways supersede those of States. In the instance as it affects issues on the exclusive legislative list.
According to him, a cursory review of the ruling of the learned justices of the Court of Appeal indicates a clear recognition of the powers and responsibilities of the various arms and organs of government with respect to administration of mining and inland waterways.
“We are therefore at a loss as to why officials of Lagos State Government will willfully attempt to inverse the ruling of the court to suit their much anticipated outcome,” he said, adding that the justices of the Appeal court were clear about extent and limitation of powers of the various arms of government.
He said the ministry takes the development with all seriousness and solemn commitment and called on legitimate dredgers to disregard the order and continue with their lawful operations without hindrance.
“Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has already commenced the process of consultations with all relevant and affected arms and agencies of government.
“We are confident that an amicable resolution of this issue would be reached in no time, while also committing ourselves to the implementation of lawful court judgments.
According to the ministry,
While our legal officers are studying the judgment of the Court of Appeal relating to the particulars of the case in question, in the interim, we wish to ask ALL duly licensed dredgers to disregard the Stop Work order issued by the Lagos State Government and to continue about their lawful operations.
The Permanent Secretary particularly frowned at what it described as the “manner in which officials of the Lagos State Government have gone about deliberately distorting the pronouncement of the appeal court in this matter.