An interim report heard on the floor of the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday detailed how dredging companies in the state have consistently defrauded the government to the tune of several hundreds of millions.
The report was read on the floor by Hon. Victor Akande, chairman of a seven-man committee set up to look into the activities of alleged illegal dredgers in the state.
The report named NIMCO dredging company among the ones that have carried on defrauding the state by failing to pay taxes and make returns.
The report shows that the state has 55 registered ‘Category A’ dredging companies out of which only three have operational permit. Out of these three, only one of the companies has been making returns to the government.
Akande said the report was the result of the committee’s finding through documents and evidence provided by officials of the state government and investigation.
In the course of the investigation, the committee had invited the Ministries of Waterfront and Infrastructure Development, Lands, The Environment, Physical Planning, the Surveyor-General, other government agencies and the commissioner of police in the state.
Some of the dredgers, it was learnt, engage in reclamation of land and these include NIMCO, linked to a top serving politician in the state, and another company that operate around the Eti-Osa area of Lagos State.
The Committee discovered that after reclaiming land, the companies then sell at very exorbitant prices. A member of the committee cited the case of reclaimed land sold for at least N120 million in places like Banana Island without paying government its due.
It was further learnt that another set of 74 Category A dredgers have been operating illegally in the state.
The report also showed that only 12 of the 69 recognised Category B dredgers and piling companies in the state had been making payments to the government.
It was also discovered that the state has another set of 109 illegal Category B dredgers.
The report shows that the state has 11 areas of reclamation of land with eight in Eti-Osa, one in Mainland, one in Ikorodu, and one in Kosofe.
Even though the companies have areas they are supposed to cover, many of them beat the state directive by dredging beyond the requirement, make money and defraud the government.
During deliberation on the floor of the House, Akande disclosed that all manner of people including foreigners, especially Chinese were also engaged in dredging activities enriching themselves at the expense of the state.
Many other lawmakers spoke against the activities of these dredgers.
On his part, Olowo said the dredgers were operating indiscriminately adding that some with Category C approvals operate in Category A without regard to the laws.
Akande also urged the House to give the committee additional two weeks to complete its work as it wants to embark on inspection tour of the sites.
Speaker Mudashiru Obasa directed the Clerk of the House, Azeez Sanni, to write the governor and intimate him of the preliminary findings of the committee.
Obasa also directed the Clerk to write to the state commissioner of police to provide security for the committee members when they embark on inspection of the dredging sites.