Court nullifies restriction of human movement for Lagos environmental sanitation
A FEDERAL High Court, Lagos, presided by Justice Mohammed Idris, yesterday nullified the monthly environmental sanitation policy of the Lagos State government during which residents are kept compulsorily indoors for three hours.
The court held that there is no law in force in Lagos State by which any resident could be kept indoors compulsorily.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, in a judgment delivered yesterday on the suit filed by Lagos lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, against the Inspector-General of Police and the Lagos State Government challenging the restriction of human movement on the last Saturday of every month for the purpose of observing environmental sanitation, held that there is no law in force in Lagos State by which any resident could be kept indoors compulsorily.
The judge said the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria grants freedom of movement to every citizen, and as such, freedom cannot be taken away by executive proclamation in the absence of any law to that effect.
Adegboruwa, who had commended the judge for what he called “his forthrightness for his courage and boldness”, said: “This has indeed settled beyond any doubt that the Judiciary is the last hope of the common man. It is a signal to all those in power across the land, local, state and federal that the rule of arbitrariness of impunity and of wanton disregard for peoples’ rights and freedoms, is gradually coming to an end.
He insisted that Section 39 of the Environmental Sanitation Law 2000 of Lagos State, which the respondents claimed to empower the Commissioner for the Environment to make regulations cannot be the basis of restricting human movement on Saturdays, as no regulation in force has indeed been made for that purpose.
He, therefore, challenged the Lagos State Government to produce such regulation before the court, urging the court to hold that even if there is such regulation in force, it cannot be enforced on roads that are designated as federal highways under the Highways Act, such as the Third Mainland Bridge where he was arrested by the police and LASTMA officials.
But counsel to Lagos State government, Mr. Jonathan Ogunsanya, chief state counsel from the Ministry of Justice, in his response, argued that Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution permits government to make laws that may derogate from the right to freedom of movement and that the Environmental Sanitation Law of Lagos State, 2000, is an example of such derogation.
He said that the practice of keeping people at home for three hours only on the last Saturday of the month is meant to keep society and environment clean and safe, adding that there are classified exceptions to the restriction, including emergencies and ambulance services and those on essential services.