Lekki toll gate: Lagos claims misrepresentation of legal status on collection of tolls
Says appeal against lower court verdict still pending
Lagos State Government has alerted to misrepresentation of facts in statements circulating in the media that it does not have legal right to collect tolls on the controversial Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge and that tolling on the Link Bridge is unlawful.
The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, in a statement noted that the misleading statements were based on the false premise that the Lagos State Government has no pending appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court in Suit No FHC/L/CS/1405/02 between Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa Esq. Vs. Attorney General of The Federation & Ors.
According to him, in the light of this misrepresentation, it has become necessary to state as follows; “On the 27th day of March 2014, the Federal High Court delivered judgment in Suit No FHC/L/CS/1405/02.
“Thereafter on 28th of March, 2014 the Lagos State Government (sued as 3rd and 4th Respondents) filed a Notice of Appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court and an application for stay of execution and injunction pending appeal.
“That on 11th of November, 2014 the Lagos State Government filed an application for extension of time within which to compile and transmit the Records of Appeal, at the Court of Appeal.
“However, on the 9th of October, 2017 owing to lack of representation on the part of Lagos State Government, the application for extension of time to transmit the Records of Appeal, filed on the 11th of November, 2014 was struck out and the Court stated:
“Since Applicant is aware of today’s date and is not in court, we take it that applicant is not diligent in prosecuting its application. It is hereby struck out.
“From the foregoing quote, what was struck out was the application (that came up before the Court of Appeal on 09/10/17) and not the appeal. There is a distinction between striking out an application and striking out an appeal.
“As at date, there is no order striking out Lagos State Government’s appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered on 27th of March, 2014 in Suit No FHC/L/CS/1405/02.
“It is also notable that before the Federal High Court, the claimant sought ten (10) Declaratory reliefs and one (1) order of injunction, to restrain the Lagos State Government from collecting tolls on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge.
“However, in its judgment dated March 17, 2014, the Federal High Court did not specifically or expressly grant either the Declarations or the injunction sought.
It rather only held that:
“I agree and uphold that the construction of this bridge was authorised and the 3rd Respondent has the power to generate revenue thereon from the subject matter but the existing law did not cover this bridge and the 3rd Respondent can only make the law to that effect before it can collect toll on the bridge.
“Dissatisfied with the lack of clarity and precision in the judgment amongst other grievances the Lagos State Government filed a Notice of Appeal against the judgment on 28th March, 2014.
“The position of the law is that once a Notice of Appeal is filed along with an application for stay of execution/injunction pending appeal, the judgment being appealed against cannot be enforced until the application for stay of execution/injunction pending appeal has been determined. This position was upheld in VASWANI TRADING COMPANY V. SAVALAKI & CO (1972) N.S.C.C @ 697 – 698, where the Supreme Court of Nigeria held that: “…whilst by virtue of the provision of the section, an appeal or the filing thereof could not eo ipso operate as a stay of execution, clearly, in practice, the position should be different where apart from filing an appeal, the prospective appellant also files an application in this Court, by which a stay of execution of the same judgment is sought. In such circumstances, a general appraisal of the whole situation is absolutely necessary and it is most desirable that the court should ensure that, at that stage of the proceedings, it is not possible for any party to present it with a fait accompli…
“Notwithstanding the above position of the law, the Lagos State Government affirms that it will continue to engage with all stakeholders and concerned members of the public in the Lekki axis and will abide by commitments and concessions made at the various stakeholders’ meetings.”
Onigbanjo stressed that based on the foregoing, the statements that the collection of tolls on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge is unlawful and without legal basis or right are clearly incorrect, saying that “the Lagos State Government’s appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court subsists and the judgment of the Federal High Court cannot be enforced at this stage.”