Groups vow to resist hasty passage of Lagos environmental law

Lagos Assembly

Civil society groups, grassroots campaigners and activists have vowed to resist the Lagos State Environmental Bill which was passed into law yesterday by the state House of Assembly.

This is coming less than two weeks after the groups challenged key sections of the law at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on the Environment.

In a statement signed by Head, Media and Campaigns, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Mr. Phillip Jakpor, the groups said the law was anti-people and unacceptable.

They also asked Governor Akinwunmi Ambode not to assent to the bill but send it back to the House to throw it open again for wider consultations and inputs from Lagos citizens.

The groups criticizing the passage include: Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Peace and Development Project (PEDEP) and Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-Hope).

Others are Center for Dignity and African Women Water Sanitation and Hygiene Network (AWWASHN), among others.

The bill, which merges eight environment laws in the state into one, is titled: “A Bill for a Law to Consolidate all Laws relating to the Environment for the Management, Protection and Sustainable Development of the Environment in Lagos State and for Connected Purposes.”

Reports indicate that after its passage yesterday, Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa directed the Clerk of the House, Mr. Azeez Sanni to send a clean copy to Ambode for his assent.

The bill criminalizes sinking of boreholes, imposes fines and sets prison terms for any Lagos citizen who sells or transports water, among others.

The House members had cut short their six-week recess to attend to the bill and same week it took the first and second reading and held the public hearing where activists picked holes in the law. The members went on another recess after passing the law.

Activists particularly decried sections of the law that guaranteed payment for contractual services and concessions with an Irrevocable Service Payment Order (ISPO) as the first line charge on the state internally generated revenue (IGR).

This means if the law is assented to by Governor Ambode, the state will use tax payers money to pay the corporate entities, without fail before considering payment for other services  like salaries, healthcare, education or road construction, no matter how pressing they may be.

ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, National President of AUPCTRE, Comrade Solomon Adelegan, Executive Director of PEDEP, Francis Abayomi and Executive Director of CEE-HOPE, Betty Abah, said they will mobilise Lagosians to protest the bill, which they described as a conspiracy against the people.

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