4th May, 2012
A Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja has stopped the Lagos State Government from enforcing its plan to ban or restrict the operations of commercial motorcyclists. Justice Steven Adah gave the order on Friday while delivering judgmentin a suit filed by the motorcycle operators, popularly called” Okada riders”, against the government.
The motorcycle operators, under the umbrella of four associations, filed the suit on Feb. 8, through their counsel, Mr Bamidele Aturu.
Mr Ade Ipaye, Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, was joined in the suit as second respondent.
The applicants had asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from hindering commercial motorcycle operations or arresting their members for using commercial motorcycles.
In his judgment, Adah held that it was unconstitutional and illegal for the government to ban or restrict the operations of the commercial motorcyclists because there was no written law to that effect.
” The Lagos State House of Assembly has not enacted any law banning or restricting the operations of commercial motorcyclists. For the ban to have any effect, the state government should go to the legislature.The government cannot be dictatorial by resorting to an arbitrary imposition of restrictions on the operations of commercial motorcyclists,” the judge said.
He said the proposed ban and restriction of their operations would constitute a violation of the applicants’ constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of movement.
Adah said the constitution guaranteed freedom of movement although that right was not absolute.
“The government can restrict freedom of movement for reasonably justifiable reasons, such as public defence, public order, public safety, public morality and public health, ” he said, adding that “such restrictions must be backed by a valid law passed by the State House of Assembly or the National Assembly.”
He said law enforcement agents could arrest commercial motorcyclists for traffic offences but should not arrest them for working in restricted areas till there was a valid law to that effect.
Adah held that the seizure of the motorcycles was an infringement of the rights of the applicants and ordered the respondents to release all motorcycles in their custody.
The suit was filed by the trustees of National Commercial Motorcycle and Tricycle Owners and Riders Association and Motorcycle Transport Union of Nigeria.
The other applicants were the All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association and Okada Welfare Association.
Reported by News Agency of Nigeria.