Dredgers Mull Legal Actions over False Allegation by Fish Farmers

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CHIGOZIE  AMADI

The Dredgers Association of Nigeria (DAN) has stated that it is considering taking legal actions over false allegations made by fish farmers who claimed that dredgers are responsible for the high mortality rate of fish in Epe despite ongoing investigation by the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO).

The General Secretary of DAN, Mr. Richard Ntan, said at a press briefing that the allegation made against its member, Renecon Limited, is a false narrative without any iota of scientific evidence to prove that dredgers are responsible for fish mortality in Epe Local Government Area of Lagos State.

He opined that the impact of climate change particularly, of the extreme weather temperature and the unprecedented presence of water hyacinth in the area of the incident, could cause appreciable damage to fishes.

THISDAY had reported that MIREMCO had assured both parties at a peace parley that thorough investigations would be conducted and ordered both parties to return to their business activities without public spat and name callings until investigations are fully conducted.

Ntan said: “About three weeks ago, a peace meeting was convened by the committee in Alausa, Ikeja, bringing together stakeholders including the Dredgers Association, Renecon Limited, Epe tilapia fish farmers and representatives from both state and federal environmental agencies.

“The gathering aimed to address the fish mortality incident allegedly linked to dredging activities near the fish farms. Despite the lack of evidence tying dredging activities to the fish deaths, recent reports in prominent newspapers have pointed fingers at Renecon Limited, prompting the Dredgers Association to voice concerns over what it perceives as a smear campaign against its members.”

He said that the committee stated its intent to get to the root of the incidence and enjoined all parties to stop further public spat and name callings until the investigations are fully conducted and parties invited to hear and analyse results of findings.

He raised an alarm about the underhand tactics of the fish farmers who now probate and reprobate on an issue under investigations.

The association also accused certain individuals of attempting to derail the peace process and endangering the lives and property of Renecon Limited through incitement.

“DAN will not hesitate to head to court to bring the fisher farmers and all its leaders who granted what is clearly a false narrative without any iota of scientific evidence to buttress their premeditated agenda to rubbish the name of Renecon Limited to pay for their hate speech,” Ntan stated.

He reiterated the commitment of Renecon Limited to cooperate with the committee’s investigation and urged for patience until the inquiry is concluded.

He stated that Renecon is operating within regulatory guidelines and has been a responsible entity in Lagos’s dredging community.

The dredgers association made a plea for judicious resolution and warned against the consequences of public defamation and the disruption of peace efforts between the involved parties.

Ntan said that false tales in the media that were allegedly instigated by the fish farmers had incited innocent members of the public against the dredging company and put the lives of its owners and workers in danger.

He said that this has also deliberately procured and instigated possible mob reactions against the operations of the company whose only offence is to operate outside the fish farmers cadastral.

The association urged that committee to take judicial notice of this deliberate breach of its avowed commitment to find peace and maintain cordial relationship between the two parties and hold the fish farmers and their collaborators responsible for any possible violence or damage to Renecon property and equipment.

The association stated that the ongoing committee’s investigation is expected to shed light on the actual causes of the fish deaths, aiming to bring about a resolution that maintains the interests of all stakeholders involved.