The Federal High Court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria Thursday ordered the Lagos State Government to stop collecting toll on the N29 billion Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, describing toll collection on the bridge as illegal.
A civil rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa had in April last year gone to court asking the court to declare unconstitutional collection of toll by the Lagos State Government on a bridge on a Federal waterway and the imposition of tolls on him and other users of the same bridge. Adegboruwa had said the collection of tolls on the bridge constituted a violation of his fundamental human rights and that of others without alternative route for him to pass.
There were nine declarations and one injunctive release before the court in the suit filed by the civil rights lawyer to restrain government from collecting tolls on the bridge.
In its defence, the Lagos State Government’s counsel, Ade Ipaye who is the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, had held that the government had the legal authority to construct bridges to facilitate movement of people in the state.
The government also held that ssection 29 of the Public-Private Partnership, PPP, Law authorised user fees or charges or toll on any public infrastructure.
It added that more importantly, the second defendant, the National Inland Waterways, NIWA, collected money from the state government to allow it construct the bridge. In his judgment, Justice Saliu Seidu of the Federal High Court, having listened to the submission of the parties in the dispute says the case before him was no longer which authority had the power to construct bridges, but whether there is a Lagos law legalising collection of tolls.
He said the PPP law the government was laying claims to collect toll on the bridge did not apply in this matter as there were no evidences before him to show that the bridge was a PPP project.
In the light of this, Justice Seidu upheld the claims of the claimant, Adegboruwa stopping Lagos Government from collecting tolls on the bridge. At a news conference this afternoon, Iyaye said government would appeal the judgment of the Federal High Court and also appeal for a stay of execution of the judgment.
Governor Babatunde Fashola commissioned the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge on 29 May, 2013, thus, commencing a toll regime on the link bridge. Ipaye said the pronouncement of the court is capable of being misunderstood by the public, adding that it was wrong for the court to say that the PPP law did not authorise government to collect toll on public infrastructure.