By Erasmus Ikhide
The recent judgement at the Edo State High Court presided over by the state’s Chief Judge Hon. Justice Esohe Frances Ikponmwen which nullified Edo State Waste Management Law passed by the State House of Assembly in 2010 has thrown major markets across the state into heaps garbage that now compete for space with skye scrappers.
Reacting to the judgement delivered on the 26th July, 2018 in a press statement signed by Dele Igbinedion Esq, counsel to Mr. Johnson Obasogie Igbinedion criticised the state government and the Commissioner for Environment Dame Omoua Alonge Oni-Okpaku for wading in to rescue the state from environmental disaster.
“Let me state clearly for the avoidance of any doubt and pursuant to my client’s instructions, that the purported Statement by the Edo State Enviroment and Sustainability Commissioner is patently ultra vires the powers of the Commissioner and in direct contempt of the Johnson Obasogie Igbinedion High Court Judgment.
“Contextually, the aforesaid Judgment decided that the Edo State Goverment lacks the powers or right to deal with refuse or waste collection under any form or guise anywhere in Edo State.
“In the same vein, the Government lacks the power to intermeddle with the function. Refuse or Waste disposal (including collection of levies or modalities for doing so) is the exclusive constitutional function of local government councils in Edo State. It is a “no go” area for the Edo State Goverment. It is only the relevant Local Government Council that can issue any directive for direct collection of payment from traders (or anyone else for that matter) for waste disposal services.
“Consequentially therefore, the Edo State Government and/or the aforesaid Commissioner lack the power or competence to give or issue any directive(s) to traders on how to pay for waste disposal or through whom to pay for waste disposal”, Dele wrote.
Earlier the Edo State Government had through the Secretary to the State Government Osarodion Ogie Esq. in a statement made available to the press explained government’s strategic plans put in place to prevent the possibility of allowing garbage to take over the entire state while exploring the option of appealing the judgement.
“Edo State Government will respect the Judgment, the Goverment will however obtain a certified true copy of the Judgment and study it with a view to exploring their constitutional right to appeal against it”, Mr. Ogie said.
He further stated that the Edo Government will however, implement unrepealed laws relating to public health, nuisances and sanitation like the Public Health Law, the Criminal Code, Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Bye Laws of different Local Governments Councils.
The efforts of the Edo State Government and that of Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability is largely viewed by the general public as commendable instead of allowing resfuse to take over the entire state. Mr. Chris Osato particularly applauded the Environment Commissioner and Sustainability for the prompt removal of refuse from the markets across the state, saying she has saved everyone from contracting cholera and other infectious diseases.
“I’m a trader in Oba Market. We thanked Dame Omoua Alonge Oni-Okpaku for her prompt and urgent removal of all the garbage heaps in our market. May God bless her and the state government”, Osato said.
Mr. Osato lambasted Mr Dele Igbinedion for celebrating a judgement that has inflicted incalculable pains and damage on the good people of Edo State and our environment. He said Mr. Dele Igbinedion should have sought compensation for his client instead of this reckless fighting that have put public health in jeopardy.
“Now an individual’s judgement is affecting millions of citizens adversely, which raises the question of availability of Justice in the the circumstance”, Osato queried.
In spite of the government efforts, the state is at the verge of being enveloped by widespread epidemic of epic proportion on account the judgement. It’s capable of triggering health crises beyond the capacity of the state government to manage. It’s common knowledge that governments in Nigeria are used to allowing otherwise manageable situations to snowball into ful scale tragedy before taking actions.
We only hope that the legal tussle between the government and the litigant is resolved quickly in the interest of the masses.