Indigenous agitation against the recently passed Cross River State Waterfront Infrastructure Management Agency Law has been assuaged with the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, John Gaul Lebo clearing the air on the contentious law.
Resolution reached at the meeting between the CRS House of Assembly and the waterfront communities including chiefs, indicate that the recently passed waterfront law may be amended as the communities contended that their interests were not accommodated in the law, and therefore sought its amendment.
The Speaker who spoke extensively on the law at the meeting which was held at the Assembly complex, observed that the law was never intended to short change the communities or deny them right of passage on the waterways but rather to harness the revenue potentials on Cross River waters.
Lebo maintained that the law was to set up an agency to regulate activities on Cross River water ways, with a view to making the waters safer, as well as maintain waterfront infrastructures for a more profitable regime, adding that contrary to speculation, the law does not seek to take over ownership of private properties of the indigenes. He added that the Agency when constituted would interface with the riverine communities with a view to reaching an understanding that would further elicit the people’s confidence on the law.
In his submission, the Niger Delta Development Commission Board Chairman, Bassey Ewa Henshaw advised the House of Assembly to quickly amend the law so as to address areas of contention which he observed would help to assuage the fear and apprehension of the people.
Henshaw, who represented Cross River South in Nigeria’s Senate, assured the royal fathers and riverine communities that the Agency would not extinguish the rights and privileges they enjoyed on the waters.
The NDDC board member warned against acts of compromise by community leaders who may be induced to cede parts of community lands, saying that such act was capable of mortgaging the common wealth of the communities. Consequently, copies of the law were distributed to the royal fathers and community leaders for critical study and input within one month, after which, the House of Assembly may commence the process of amending the law.
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