The Lagos State Government has officially cancelled the monthly environmental sanitation exercise which before now held every last Saturday of the month in the state between the hours of 7am and 10am.
The cancellation, contained in a statement released by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, follows a resolution at Lagos State Executive Council meeting held on Wednesday November 25, 2016 which approved the need for a holistic review of the environmental laws and procedures in the state to meet modern day realities while also more effectively promoting clean and healthy environment.
This latest announcement by the state government is not unconnected with a recent judgement by Justice Ugochukwu Ogakwu of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, following an appeal brought before it by a resident, Faith Okafor who had been arrested by KIA (officials of the State government) and convicted by a lower Court for purportedly violating the order on restriction of movement during the monthly environmental sanitation exercise in the State. The Appeal Court in its ruling upturned the judgement of the lower Court and ordered the State government to stop restricting human and vehicular movements during the monthly environmental sanitation exercises in the state, adding that since the restriction is not backed by any written law, the directive of the governor on restriction of movement is unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional. The Court also ordered a N100, 000.00 fine to be paid by the State to the Appellant.
It would also be recalled that environmentalists had long argued that state-wide restriction of movement during environmental sanitation exercises in the state and other parts of Nigeria is archaic, counterproductive and a breach of citizens’ fundamental human rights to free movement especially in the absence of a written law prescribing the same. They also argued that environmental sanitation should be continuous rather than once in month and it can be effectively carried out without unnecessary restriction of movement.
In what appears as finally adopting these suggestions, Mr. Ayorinde added that the push for fresh initiatives, among other things, will promote holistic and modern solutions to the unique environmental challenges in the state, while encouraging voluntary citizen participation with government to achieve the desired goals.
The statement said, “After a careful consideration, the State Executive Council has therefore resolved that the present economic climate can no longer support the continued lock down of a mega city like Lagos, when the citizens should be free to engage in commercial and entrepreneurial activities that can promote economic growth and prosperity.”
“It is no longer appropriate to restrict movement of people for three hours in a mega city like Lagos at a time they should be pursuing commercial and entrepreneurial activities… In the last two decades, Lagos has grown exponentially into a mega city with the attendant huge environmental problems associated with managing a population of over twenty million people.”
“But sadly, the environmental laws, policies and procedures being practiced in the State have not been able to match the phenomenal growth and the dream of a 24-hour economy, hence the need for the reform.”
“The Government wishes to reiterate its strong commitment to a clean and secure environment for the benefit of its citizens, and will continue to provide the necessary leadership to meet the environmental challenges of a mega city like Lagos. Lagosians and visitors alike are therefore urged to embrace these changes and imbibe a culture of voluntarily maintaining and preserving their environment to create a beautiful and healthy city that we all can be proud of.”
The statement further added, “Furthermore, Government will also accelerate the introduction of fresh reforms through the passage of the new harmonized environmental laws that will drive meaningful changes in areas of harmonized billing, waste management, modern Landfill sites, noise pollution, introduction of an Environmental Trust Fund and an Environmental Advisory Council.