The National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA has ordered the immediate suspension of all reclamation work around Banana Island were the building collapse occurred recently. This is as the agency also distance itself from the issuance of building permit or issuance of Certificate of Occupancy, C-of-O, faulting accusation by the Lagos State government linking it to the building collapse in a recent news publication. Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIWA, Goerge Moghalu gave the order when he visited the site of the incident and ordered the immediate suspension of all reclamation activities within the area of the incident in the Island pending the conclusion of the investigation ordered by the Lagos State Government.
A statement signed by NIWA’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Jibril Darda’u, noted that in one of National Daily, “carried a distorted account of what transpired over the collapsed building In Banana Island. In the said publication, the Lagos State Governor was quoted to have accused the Federal Government Agencies particularly the NIWA of being culpable in the incident of building collapse on the highbrow Banana Island. “The Governor also described officials of NIWA to be reckless in the manner they issue permits without regard to the topography of the area. He further stated that the site of the collapsed building was not originally part of the Island’s plan. The Authority vehemently dissociate itself from the statements and allegations of the Lagos State Government over the collapsed building in Banana Island as contained in the said publication. The information contained in the publication are false, baseless and a misrepresentation of the issues that led to the collapse of the building in Banana Island with intent of misleading members of the public regarding what had actually happened.
“The Authority categorically states that the Lagos State Government in the said publication admitted that it is the State Government’s responsibility to issue building approval. In the words of the Governor as quoted “… we have responsibility for building approval. All of the four building at the back never got our approval. This is an illegality that is real…” In another admission by the Lagos State Governor, he specifically stated that some officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA are corrupt, stressing that they would be held responsible for the recent collapse of a seven story building on the island. Following from the above, it is glaringly clear that building permits are within the jurisdiction of State Governments of Nigeria including Lagos State. Therefore, where such permit are illegally obtained such faults or omission can only be attributed to the State Government that issued them and not the federal Government or any of Its Agencies as in the instant case.
“The Authority is established by NIWA Act CAP N47 LFN 2004 and there is no provision in the said Act where the Authority is mandated by Law to Issue building permits/approvals and Certificate of Occupancy. The Authority as a law abiding Agency of Federal Government and in compliance with its establishing Act issues permits for “Use of Right of Way, activities within the Waterways of Nigeria, and reclamation. “The Authority never granted any license or permit in respect of the site where the collapse occurred.nInvestigations carried out shows that the collapsed building was constructed on lines 15 and 16 of the original plan of Banana Island thus the said collapse building were not constructed on any subsequent extensions. The responsibility to inspect every stage of building construction remains that of Lagos State Government and her officials and where there are failures in the performance of such duties the blame should not be transferred to the Federal Government particularly National Inland Waterways Authority, (NIWA). In the light of the above, the allegations by Lagos State Government against NIWA are short on facts and carries no weight,” ” the NIWA spokesman said.