A Lagos High Court in Ikeja on Wednesday granted accelerated hearing in the suit filed by some commercial motorcycle operators, popularly called Okada riders, against the Lagos State Government over its restriction of their activities.
The Okada riders, under the aegis of Incorporated Trustees of all Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association, had asked the court to restrain the state government from prohibiting their operations on federal highways.
The defendants in the suit are the state government, the Attorney-General of state, Mr. Ade Ipaye, and the state House of Assembly.
Justice Aishat Opesanwo, however, struck out an interlocutory application filed by the claimants, which had prayed the court to restrain the government from implementing the new Lagos State Traffic Law pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Opesanwo’s order striking out the application followed its withdrawal by the counsel for the claimants, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, so as to “deal with the matter speedily”.
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.
During the proceedings, Ipaye affirmed to the court that the contentious traffic law was already being enforced in the state.
He disagreed with Aturu, who referred to paragraph 33 of the state government’s written address, saying the government had admitted that it had yet to start the enforcement of the law.
When Aturu asked the judge to make an order maintaining status quo, to compel Ipaye to undertake to suspend the enforcement of the law pending the final determination of the suit, the AG said the power to make such an undertaking did not lie with him.
“The enforcement agencies are not parties in this action. I can’t, on their behalf, say to this court they will not do their duty,” Ipaye said.
Counsel for the House of Assembly, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, SAN, had also opposed the making of such order, arguing that it was the same prayer contained in the claimants’ application for interlocutory injunction.
Though, subsequent upon this, Aturu obliged to withdraw the application for interlocutory injunction, he said it was untrue that the state government could not stop the enforcement of the law.