5 February 2013

Nigeria: We Have Not Fixed Toll On Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge, Lagos Tells Court

The Lagos State Government on Tuesday asked a Federal High Court to dismiss a suit challenging its purported plan to introduce a N500 toll for motorists using the new Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge.

Olarewanju Akinsola, counsel to the government, told Justice Saliu Saidu that the suit was premature and denied allegations that N500 had been fixed as toll to be collected.

In his preliminary objection and counter affidavit filed before the court, Mr. Akinsola noted that the project was yet to be completed and handed over to the State Government.

He said the suit, filed by the applicant was like "jumping the gun", as the government was yet to take a decision on whether or not to collect toll on the bridge.

"The action is premature and devoid of basis," the lawyer submitted.

Mr. Saidu, in his ruling, said he would treat all the respondents' processes together and adjourned the case to March 21 for hearing of all pending applications.

The suit

The plaintiff, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, had sued the government over the proposed collection of N500 toll on the newly constructed Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge.

The applicant, through his counsel, Oreka Adegboruwa, in suit No. FHC/L/CS/1405/2012, is seeking an injunction restraining the government from collecting any toll from motorists on the bridge.

Joined as respondents in the suit is the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

Mr. Adegboruwa, a human rights activist, stated in the originating summons that reports on the proposed toll collection was published by the Guardian Newspaper of October 8, 2012.

He argued that a toll of N500 per vehicle was uncalled for in view of the hardship, hunger and unemployment in Nigeria.

He claimed that the bridge was built on a federal navigable waterway belonging to the Federal Government.

Mr. Adegboruwa also asked the court to determine whether the Lagos State Government had the power to erect a structure such as a bridge over the Lagos and Lekki Lagoon, categorised by law as federal navigable waterways.

He also wanted the court to determine whether the State Government was competent to impose any toll or tax on such a bridge.

According to him, the collection of such a toll or tax from Nigerians contravenes their fundamental right to free movement.

"Imposition of such a levy on road users will prevent them from using the bridge and constitute discrimination and violation of the rights of the road users," the human rights activist said.

He therefore sought a declaration that the imposition of a toll, fee or tariff on road users is illegal and inconsistent with Nigeria's Constitution. NAN

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