A Nigerian Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday fixed 25 April for ruling on the Lagos State Government’s application for a stay of execution of judgment on toll collection on the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge.
Justice Saliu Saidu had on 27 March declared collection of toll on the bridge illegal, saying there is no law in existence authorising it. Saidu had reserved ruling in the case after hearing arguments on an application for a stay of execution of the judgment filed by the State Attorney-General, Mr Ade Ipaye. A human rights lawyer, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, had filed a suit on Nov. 26, 2012, challenging toll collection on the bridge. Joined as first and second respondents in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
Ipaye and the state government were joined as third and fourth respondents respectively.
The judge held that there was nothing before the court to show that the construction of the bridge was a Public Private Partnership project, insisting that the bridge was built with public funds. At the resumed hearing of the motion on Monday, Ipaye urged the court to stay execution of its judgment pending the determination of an appeal before the Court of Appeal. He also sought for an order of injunction restraining the third and fourth respondents from giving effect to the judgment in order to abide with the appellate court’s decision.
Ipaye noted that the applicant had filed and conducted the suit in his personal capacity, adding that a stay would not be injurious to him. He argued that after the court’s judgment on March 27, Adegboruwa had immediately proceeded to the bridge and had sought to use it without paying toll. There was no express order of court preventing toll collection.’’ Ipaye argued that Adegboruwa had also filed a cross appeal before the appellate court, stressing that with such a step, it was now important for status quo to be maintained until all issues were resolved by the apex court.
Adegboruwa, in his response, urged the court to dismiss the application for being incompetent.
He argued that a prayer for a stay of execution of a judgment and a motion for injunction could not abide in the same application, describing the practice as novel. He told the court that the respondents had failed to obey the court’s judgment of March 27, stressing that such practice constituted an affront to the powers of the court.
Adegboruwa said:“The reliefs sought by the respondents are equitable in nature, and whoever must come to equity must come with clean hands. The action of the respondents creates an impression in the minds of Nigerians that there was no court order, and so, if this application is granted, it will simply validate the confusion already created.” He, therefore, submitted that it was impossible for the court to overrule itself with respect to the pending judgment since there was no need to justify the collection of illegal toll