As arguments for and against the recent Lagos road traffic law continue to rage, with two pending court cases challenging its enactment and implementation, Ade Ipaye, the state attorney general and Justice commissioner, says there is no court pronouncement setting the law aside.
Following this position, Kayode Opeifa, commissioner for transportation and Aderemi Ibirogba, commissioner for information and strategy, say implementation and enforcement of the law is on course, insisting the law is for public good.
Ipaiye, however, acknowledged that in the meantime, there are two legal suites challenging the law in Lagos and Federal High Court, both sitting in Ikeja, but that no pronouncement has been made by either of the courts on the matter.
The attorney general, who briefed journalists, weekend, at State House, Ikeja, on the legal aspect of the law, said an association of ‘Okada’ riders, ANACOWA, was challenging the traffic law at a Lagos High Court. He explained that although the case has been argued by parties and arguments closed, the case has been adjourned for judgment at a yet-to-be determined date by the court.
He said: “In the meantime, the law enjoys the presumption of validity and must be obeyed until and unless a court of law, for whatever reason, decides to set it aside. When a law has been made by the State House of Assembly and assented to by the state governor, that law is issued by all of us through our representatives and even though we have a minority that may not agree with it, they cannot peremptorily declare that the law will not be obeyed. What they need to do is to go to court”.
Ipaye said the promulgation of the road traffic law of August 2, 2012, came as a result of the pronouncement of a Federal High Court in Ikeja which, in its verdict on a case brought to it by an association of ‘Okada’ riders seeking to stop the government in enforcing restriction on ‘okada’ operation in the state, ruled that the government could not restrict the activities of ‘okada’ riders except it was able to do so by an enabling law, adding, “of course, we complied with that decision”.
Speaking on the second court case at the Federal High Court, Ipaiye said the case was also filed against the law by some of the ‘okada’ operators. “That case is ongoing, it is yet to be decided and unless and until a decision that is adverse to the law comes out of that court, the law remains in full force and effect”.
According to Ipaye, if any person apprehended in enforcing the law feels that he has been unfairly or unjustly arrested, he/she should seek redress in a law court. He said that if the affected person needs a lawyer, he could approach the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) for free defence.
Describing the above process as “properly and legally recognised mechanism” for airing such views or fighting such cases, the attorney general said: “Any mechanism outside of the ones that are clearly recognised by law as I have described, is illegal and, of course, the law enforcement agencies have a duty to act in such a way as to prevent some people who, for one reason or the other, may want to disturb the peace of others.