An Ikeja High Court on Wednesday granted accelerated hearing to the suit filed by some commercial motorcycle operators against the Lagos State Government over its restriction of their activities.
Justice Aishat Opesanwo, however, dismissed an interlocutory application filed by the claimants, which had prayed the court to restrain the government from implementing the new Lagos State Traffic Law.
The judge fixed November 16 to hear the substantive suit which is challenging the ban on the claimants from plying 475 roads in the state.
The suit was filed by the commercial motorcycle operators under the aegis of the All Nigerian Autobike Commercial Owners and workers Association.
The defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Government, the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr. Ade Ipaye.
When the matter came up for mention on Wednesday, counsel to the claimants, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, informed the court that they were withdrawing their interlocutory application.
Aturu said, “There is a need for us to withdraw our interlocutory application, so that the court can hear the substantive suit in an accelerated manner.
”We believe that there is a need for the court to urgently deal with this matter because it is in the interest of the generality of the populace.
“Many of them have been suffering from this draconian action of the government, restricting the motorcyclists from operating on federal highways.
“We are, therefore, asking the court to strike out the application and grant us an accelerated hearing of the substantive suit,” he said.
However, Ipaye, who is the third defendant and counsel to Lagos State government, informed the court that the law was already being enforced in the state.
Ipaye said, “My Lord, take judicial notice that the law came into effect on Aug. 2.
“It was in reaction to its enforcement that the claimants herein only on Monday (October 22) went on rampage.”
The attorney-general also noted that the law enforcement agencies were not joined as defendants in the suit.
“They are not parties to this action and we cannot tell this honourable court that they will not do their duty in enforcing the law,” he said.
Counsel to the Lagos State House of Assembly, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), said the reliefs being sought by the claimants in the interlocutory application were similar to the ones in the substantive suit.
The claimants had argued in the substantive suit that some of the restricted roads were federal roads listed under the Federal Highways Act, Cap F13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
They had prayed the court to declare Section 3(1) of the law, which prohibits the riding, driving or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the major highways in Lagos, as unconstitutional.
The commercial motorcycle operators had further asked for a declaration that the defendants have no power whatsoever, to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the federal trunks or highways.
The claimants said restricting their operations on the said roads would violate their rights to freedom of movement, guaranteed by Section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.