A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday granted a motion for stay of execution of its judgment which declared the collection of toll on the newly constructed Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge unlawful.
Justice Saliu Saidu ordered a stay of execution following a motion filed by the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye. Ipaye had sought a stay of execution of the judgment pending the determination of an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that a human rights activist, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, had filed a suit on Nov. 26, 2012 against the Lagos State Government, challenging its collection of toll on the bridge. Joined as first and second respondents in the suit were the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
Ipaye, and the Lagos State Government were listed as third and fourth respondents respectively. On March 27, Saidu in his judgment, declared that the imposition of such toll was unlawful, on the ground that there was no law in existence authorising its collection.
The judge had held that there was nothing before the court to show that the construction of the bridge was as a result of a Public Private Partnership Law, since it was constructed with funds of the state government. He had, therefore, held that the Lagos government could only validly collect toll on the bridge, if a law was enacted to give validity to such tolling.
Ipaye, on March 28, filed a motion for stay of execution of the judgment, pending the hearing of an appeal before the appellate court.
On April 14, the judge heard arguments from parties on the motion, and reserved ruling. Delivering his ruling on the motion on Friday, Saidu formulated a sole issue for determination: “whether the court is inclined to grant a stay of execution in view of the facts placed before it”.
The judge said: “A stay of execution of a judgment can only be granted if the court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances which warrant stay.
“The court must also take into account the conflicting rights of parties.
“In an application for stay, the affidavit in support must state sufficient grounds of appeal, and must show that special circumstances exist for the court to grant stay.”
The judge said that the issues formulated by Adegboruwa in his cross appeal against the judgment, raised recondite issues of law which ought to be determined by the appellate court.
“I can hold that there exist special and exceptional circumstances that will warrant me to grant a stay of execution.
“Even though the applicant has alleged that the third and fourth respondents are in breach of the order of the court, a party cannot be held to be in disobedience of an order he is appealing against.
“I hereby grant an order for stay of execution on the judgment of this court delivered on March 27, pending the determination of an appeal filed against the judgment,” he said.
Adegboruwa in his substantive suit, had sought a determination of court, whether the Lagos State Government had power to erect the bridge on the Lekki Lagoon, which is categorised as Federal Navigable Waterway.
He had also sought a determination of court as to whether there was any law in existence authorising the collection of such tolls, tax or fee, on any road from Nigerian citizens.