2nd April, 2012
Despite the continued arrest of commercial motorcycle operators also known as Okada riders in some parts of Lagos by the police, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye Monday morning told a Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja that the proposed ban on okada in the state is yet to take effect.
Mr. Ipaye said this while addressing the court in the suit filed by the okada riders association against the Lagos state government against the planned ban on okada in some parts of the state.
The AG affirmed that the state government has put plans in place to regulate the activities of commercial okada riders, but that the implementation of the plan has not begun.
Mr. Ipaye also told the court in his submission that it is the responsibilty of government to regulate activities of businesses such as commercial motorcycle riders in the state and that the state has not infringed on the rights of okada riders in the state with the planned restriction.
Earlier in his submission, counsel to the okada riders, Mr. Bamidele Aturu urged the court to hold that the action of the Lagos state governement is a violation of the fundamental human rights of his clients.
The motorcycle operators, under the umbrella of four associations, Trustees of National Commercial Motorcycle and Tricycle Owners and Riders Association; Motorcycle Transport Union of Nigeria; Trustees of All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association; and Okada Welfare Association filed the suit dated 8 February 2012.
Joined as the second respondent is the state Attorney-General, Mr. Ade Ipaye.
They sought for a declaration that the proposed ban and restriction of their operations will constitute a violation of their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of movement.
The plaintiffs, who accused the government of “incessant seizures or forcible possession of the motorcycles,” are asking the court to declare that such act is an infringement on their rights.
They are also seeking the court’s declaration that the proposed government’s action violates its duty to “ensure that all citizens, without discrimination against any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood.”
The okada riders therefore asked the court to give an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from hindering commercial motorcycle operation or arresting members of the applicants for using commercial motorcycles or in any other ways preventing the members from gainful employment through the use and or operation of their motorcycles.
They also sought an order directing the respondents to release all the motorcycles that had so far been seized.
The matter has been adjourned till 4 May 2012 for judgement.
By Henry Ojelu