Appeal Court Upholds Judgment on Okada Restriction


By Akinwale   Akintunde

The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has affirmed the judgment of a Lagos High Court, which had upheld the lagality of the Lagos traffic law, saying it did not violate anybody’s rights.

Some commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada Riders, under the aegis of All Nigeria Auto Bike Commercial Owners and Workers Association (ANACOWA), had challenged the restriction of their operations to 475 routes by the traffic law, saying that it violated their right to freedom of movement.

The Lagos State Road Traffic Law which came into effect on August 2, 2012 restricts the operations of commercial motorcycle on about 475 out of the over 9,000 roads in the State.

The Law also prohibits other activities considered inimical to road traffic including hawking, drunk driving, and sale of alcoholic drinks within 100 metres of bus stops, and motor parks within the State, amongst others.

Justice Aishat Opesanwo sitting at the Ikeja Divison of Lagos High Court held in her judgment delivered on December 13, 2012 that the Road Traffic Law regulates other forms of vehicles and as such the right of the claimants to their constitutional right to freedom from discrimination had not been violated.

The court held that the Law did not violate the right of the claimants to move freely across the State as “the objective of the Road Traffic Law is not the movement of person but the mode, means or tools of movement.”

The judge therefore dismissed the suit filed by ANACOWA through their counsel, Mr. Bamidele Aturu. Dissatisfied with that judgment, the Okada riders filed an appeal on December 27, 2012 contesting the judgment at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.

However, the Court of Appeal held that Section 3 of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law 2012 was not ultra vires the powers of the Lagos State House of Assembly to enact laws for the State.

The Court further stated that the law was enacted with the overriding intention to protect the interest of the public, provide environmental sanity and reasonably justifiable for a society like Lagos State.