LEDAP Sues Lagos State Government To Halt Eko Atlantic City

Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) filed a suit at the Federal High Court Lagos division asking for the discontinuance of the on-going dredging of the Atlantic Ocean and building construction on the Eko Atlantic City by the Lagos State Government and private investors. The suit informs the court of the destructive impact of the project on the aquatic life in the entire Nigerian territorial waters and the environment of the coastal communities including Victoria Island, Lekki Peninsula and several fishing settlements on the west coast of the ocean.

LEDAP further informed the court that the construction companies of the Eko Atlantic City did not undertake any approved Environmental Impact Assessment as required by law, and there is no plan to ensure that the dredging of the ocean will not over flood coastal environment and the rural communities along the banks of the ocean. LEDAP also stated in the suit that the Federal Ministry of Environment, joined as a defendant in the case, did not authorise the project because it has not issued the statutory Environmental Impact Statement approving the dredging and building construction as required by the Environmental Impact Assessment Act 1992. The Eko Atlantic City, largely owned by a consortium of foreign companies, involves deep dredging of the Atlantic Ocean and construction of high-rising commercial and residential buildings on the recovered shores of Bar Beach, Kuramo beach and Victoria Island Lagos.

Under the Act, any person undertaking a project that will have impact on the environment is required to undertake detailed field assessment of the negative impact of the project on the environment, and in consultation with the affected communities, develop plans on how to ameliorate and solve the environmental problems. The dredging of the ocean and construction of buildings on the reclaimed land under the Eko Atlantic City will not only flood the coastal areas in coming years, but will destroy aquatic life in the entire Nigerian territorial waters of the ocean including fishes and animals, thereby negatively affecting the rich ecosystem of the ocean, the Lagoon and adjourning rivers, swamps and wetland of the country. Most of the rural fishing communities who depend on the ocean and surrounding waters for livelihood will be utterly displaced and impoverished.

The suit was filed following series of unsuccessful requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2011 by LEDAP on Lagos State Government and South Energy Limited, the lead owner of the Eko Atlantic City, for details of environmental impact assessment conducted before embarking on the project.

Lagos State government and South Energy Limited have already sold out the future apartments and buildings in the new city, which runs into billions of Naira, but they have not made any plan to take care of the environment of the coastal communities against the obvious consequences of displacing and dredging the ocean. Already, many of the areas are over flooded from the dredging and construction works.

In the suit filed by LEDAP, the court is asked to declare that it is unlawful for the Atlantic City Project to be undertaken without an approved environmental impact assessment as required by the Environmental Impact Assessment Act 1992. It claimed that to continue with the project is be detrimental to the environmental safety of communities along the coastal banks of the Atlantic Ocean. The plaintiff is asking the court to issue an injunction restraining the continued construction of the project until properly approved environmental impact assessment is conducted, through consultation with the coastal communities as required by law. LEDAP also requests the court to order that the Lagos State government and the South Energy Limited adequately resettle all the communities on the coastal banks of the ocean that are already affected or likely to be affected by the dredging of the Atlantic Ocean and the construction of the Eko Atlantic City.

The hearing of the suit has been set for the 11th of November 2015.

Chino Obiagwu

Lead Counsel for LEDAP