A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, has restrained Lagos State Government and the Commissioner for Environment and Physical Planning from granting permission to Axxela Gas and Power Distribution Company to built a gas pipeline in the residential area of Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island, pending the determination of the application filed by Princely Court Limited.
The Court order followed a suit filed against Axxela Gas and Power Distribution Company by Princely Court Limited.
Princely Court Limited, owners of the hotel franchise known as Protea Hotel Marriott Lagos Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island, in a bid to prevent the laying of pipeline in a residential area, dragged Axxela – a gas and distribution company before the Court, to safeguard life and property in the area.
In an affidavit in support of an application sworn-to by the litigation Manager of A.O.S.Practice, Mr. Sunday Omijie, and filed before the Court by Chief Ajibola Aribisala, SAN, the deponent aver thus:
In April 2023, the Plaintiff discovered ongoing construction on a plot of land in the residential area of Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island.
Upon closer inspection, the Plaintiff discovered the ongoing construction was the laying and building of gas pipelines.
Upon inquiry from the workers on the site, in addition to the signboard on site, it was discovered that Axxela is the company carrying out the laying and building of gas pipelines on the land.
The company’s building of a gas pipeline in a residential area constitutes a public nuisance by presenting grave security implications and life threats to the residents in the area. A gas pipeline built and fixed in a vicinity flooded with residential apartments, homes and hotels constitutes a public nuisance and severe threat to life.
The company’s actions are in contravention and violation of the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights to life, being a resident in the area, and also the franchise owner of a 60 bedroom Marriott Hotel that’s less than 50 feet from the gas pipeline being built by the company.
The Plaintiff has a duty to disclose to the hotel guests any danger or risk to life, which is impossible for the Plaintiff to do since the Plaintiff himself, nor any other resident in the vicinity, was not given disclosure of the erection of the gas pipeline, or the dangers involved to the citizens living in the environment.
There is no end to the damages and harm to business and life that will emanate from such a project to the environment.
There are designated areas, where a gas pipeline is permitted to pass through and a residential area is not one of them.
A gas pipeline carries grave risk due to the combustive and explosive nature of the substance. The greatest risk is associated with fires and explosions caused by the ignition of the natural gas.
It was this complication that led to the gas pipeline explosion in the residential area of Abule-Egba, in Agege in 2018 that engulfed over 100 houses and shops alike wherein 100s of lives were lost.
As seen in EXHIBITS attached to the Court process, the illegally laid gas pipelines by Axxela Company are to be a foundation wherein construction of buildings and edifice will be laid upon by whomever owns or will own the land.
Due to the residential nature of the entire area, such will pose great risk to the life of the citizens due to the high possibilities of rupture of the gas pipeline in the course of construction.
This was the case in 2020 when panic arose as Julius Berger, in the course of construction, ruptured a gas pipeline on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, putting lives of hundreds of motorists in danger.
The Applicant brought this application to deter and prevent the occurrence of any deadly accident that would inevitably occur where a gas pipeline is laid in a residential area, filled with apartment buildings, hotels, schools and hospitals.
A residential community is a strictly inappropriate and prohibited area to lay a gas pipeline.
The building of a gas pipeline in a residential area by Axxela Company without approval constitutes a public nuisance.
According to Section 11 of the Oil Pipeline Act 1956, the 1st Defendant is only permitted to take possession of a strip of land and build a gas pipeline only after a license has been sought and obtained.
In addition, Sections 8 and 9 of the Oil Pipeline Act, the basic procedure for obtention of approval involves the advertisement of the party, seeking the approval’s application in a daily newspaper, indicating the route the pipeline is to be laid and affording the public the opportunity to raise any objections to the said application.
No such notice was made by the company affording the public to lodge any objections to the area and route subject of the application wherein the gas pipeline proposes to be laid.
Chief Aribisala, SAN, in his submission, also told the Court that Section 10 of the Oil Pipeline Act makes it mandatory for all concerned parties to be given the opportunity to be heard and a report of all complaints made without delay to the Minister, before any permission or license is granted to the applicant for the construction of the gas pipeline.
The company did not follow Due Procedure, and does not have the requisite authority, permission and right to erect dangerous mechanisms like gas pipelines around or within a residential area without considering the environmental risks and danger to the citizens living around and within the area.
Ordinarily, an environment impact analysis is done to assess the environmental consequences of a project prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action.
There was no environmental impact assessment carried out before the building of the gas pipelines by the company, as it is impossible for such project to have been approved owing to the grave risks and harm to life it carries.
An order of this Court restraining the company from continuing with the building of the gas pipeline is necessary to abate the nuisance constituted by the company.
The area wherein the company has illegally laid the gas pipelines is in Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island. The vicinity itself is a residential area, and the exact location the gas pipelines are being laid is on the same strip of land as the Eko Atlantic, which has been advertised as a residential and commercial hub of Lagos.
In the area, where the gas pipelines have been illegally laid, are schools, hospitals, numerous residential apartments, hotels, children’s hospitals and restaurants.
The gas pipelines cannot harmoniously be in this area. As seen in the attached EXHIBITS, the gas pipeline itself is less than 25 meters from the fence of the Plaintiff’s property, meant for residential purposes.
The Commissioner ought to have halted the project immediately it was notified of the company’s actions of illegally laying these gas pipelines in the residential area.
The Plaintiff was informed by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning that they were not aware of the laying of such pipelines in the residential area and the requisite permission was not given and obtained by the company.
The office of the Surveyor General informed the Plaintiff that the company had earlier applied for the permission to lay the gas pipelines but same was rejected due to the residential nature of the area the gas pipelines sought to be laid in.
The company’s actions in laying the pipeline after the requisite permission was sought and denied is a mystery and is in contravention of Section 7 (4) of the Oil Pipelines Act, which states; “No person other than the holder of a license shall construct, maintain or operate an oil pipeline”
The construction of the gas pipelines by the company is an Illegality by virtue of the fact that no license was obtained by relevant authorities, and due process as it pertains to the application of such license was not complied with by the company.
This application is necessary to abate the danger to life and avoid a repetition of the gas pipeline explosion in the residential area of Agege in 2018 that engulfed over 100 houses and shops alike where life were lost.
The Court has the jurisdiction to restrain the company’s actions from constituting a public nuisance and restrain the Commissioner for Environment and physical planning and Lagos Government from giving any assent or permission to the company’s actions of which constitutes a public nuisance.
The Plaintiff has filed a declaratory action against the Defendants, urging this Court perpetually restrain the company from building a gas pipeline in the residential area of Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island and perpetually restraining the commissioner for environment and physical planning and Lagos State Government from giving permission and authority to the company to do same.
If the company is not forestall from carrying out any further act in pursuance to the building of the gas pipeline. The citizens in the community, inclusive of the Plaintiff, will be made to suffer irreparable injury and danger to life that compensation will not be able to placate.
This instant application is necessary to ensure the status quo is maintained. pending the determination of the Application for injunction currently pending before the Court.
Consequently, it will be in the interest of justice to grant this application, Chief Aribisala SAN asserted.
Upon reading the affidavit in support of the motion ex-parte sworn-to by Sunday Omijie and the Court having heard Chief A.A. Aribisala, SAN, leading Olufemi Aribisala, Esq ., Counsel for the Plaintiff/Applicant, who moved in terms praying it to grant the reliefs sought as endorsed on the motion paper.
Presiding Judge, Justice Akintayo Aluko in his ruling ordered as follows:
– That an Order of Interim Injunction restraining Axxela Company whether, by itself, its servants, agents, privies, subsidiaries and any person (s) howsoever described, acting under its authority from taking any steps to continue with the building of the gas pipeline in residential area of Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island, Lagos, pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application is hereby granted.
– That an Order of Interim Injunction restraining Commissioner for Environment and Physical Planning and the Lagos State Government wether by themselves, servants, agents, privies subsidiaries, described, themselves acting under its authority from granting permission /authority to Axxela to build a gas pipeline in the residential area of Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island, Lagos pending the determination of the interlocutory application is hereby granted.
– That Plaintiff/Applicant shall file an undertaking to indemnify the Defendants/ Respondents in the event that this order ought not to have been granted.
– The Court further ordered that the Order of the court and the motion on notice shall be served on the Defendants,
The case has been adjourned to 3rd July for the hearing of the substantive suit.