The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has declared that the protest and ligation by the Sand Miners Association of Anambra State cannot distract the agency from implementing reforms in the sector.

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The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NIWA, Jibril Darda’u, disclosed this in Onitsha, Anambra State, while addressing journalists.

The sand miners had earlier embarked on a protest against NIWA and slammed a N4.5bn lawsuit against the agency for allegedly refusing to obey a court order restraining it from disturbing the group’s operations.

The Miners association also accused the national agency of extortion and intimidation.

But Darda’u, while refuting the allegations, described them as distractions aiming to smear the image of Moghalu, whom he said had introduced a series of reforms to the system.

He maintained that the agency’s activities were covered by the Act guiding it, reckoning that it would not take issue with the sand miners since the matter was in court.

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He said, “NIWA under Moghalu is law-abiding and will not go contrary to the Act guiding it. The issue is not about Moghalu, but NIWA’s laws, which had been in existence before Moghalu came on board and will continue even after him.

“Those using those incorporated bodies of the so-called miners that have nothing to do with NIWA to smear Moghalu won’t succeed. His commitment to right the wrongs in the agency won’t be distracted.

“Moghalu had since assumption of office insisted that NIWA won’t tolerate incessant boat accidents due to negligence of boat operators and non-adherence to safety rules, including wearing of life jackets.”