Fashola Urges Court to Dismiss Falana’s Suit Seeking to Compel FG to Fix Oshodi-Apapa Road

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Babatunde Raji Fashola
  • We can’t solve Apapa’s gridlock alone, LASG insists

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has urged a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to dismiss the fundamental rights suit filed by the leading human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, challenging the failure of the federal government to remove the gridlock on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway.

This is coming as the Lagos State Government yesterday decried the worsening state of traffic congestion in Apapa Central Business District and its environs, and declared that the gridlock was indeed beyond what it could address alone.

In a counter-affidavit deposed to by one Ayodele Otedola, a litigation clerk in the Federal Ministry of Works, on behalf of the minister, it was stated that the gridlock on the road “is always caused by tanker drivers who normally follow the route to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the purpose of loading and offloading their goods”.

The counter-affidavit also stated that the minister’s “effort to clear the road and remove the trailers and tankers has not been easy but that effort has been redoubled to achieve this goal”.

In his preliminary objection against the suit Fashola has contended that the failure to repair the road has not in any way restricted or breached Falana’s freedom of movement.

The minister also challenged Falana’s locus standi to file the suit since he has not shown that he has suffered over and above other motorists or people that use the road.

In the suit Falana has argued that the state of the road constitutes a threat to his life and violation of his fundamental right to move freely in Lagos, as guaranteed by Sections 33 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and Articles 5 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

In the substantive case Falana is seeking several reliefs, including “a declaration that the refusal or failure of the respondents to remove obstructions, repair and maintain the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway is illegal and unconstitutional as it constitutes a threat to the fundamental right to life of the applicant guaranteed by Section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The human rights lawyer is also seeking an order of the court directing the respondents to remove all obstructions, and repair and the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.

The federal high court has fixed January 19, 2018 for hearing the substantive suit and the preliminary objection.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government yesterday decried the worsening state of traffic congestion in Apapa Central Business District and its environs, saying that the gridlock was beyond what it could address alone.

The state government has however, disclosed that it had designed a policy initiative christened ‘Rapid Intervention Squad’, to help unlock traffic congestion in all inner-city roads and highways in the state.

The Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Ladi Lawanson, made the clarification at a joint press conference with the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Taiwo Salami and Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr. Israel Ajao, among others.

Lawanson acknowledged that Apapa’s traffic problem “is very complex”.

“In its real sense, it is not a Lagos problem. Rather, it is a Nigerian problem, which Lagos alone cannot solve.”

He explained the complexity of Apapa’s traffic congestion, which according to him, stemmed from the volume of cargoes that entered the Apapa ports daily, the number of tank farms located in Apapa and the control of federal agencies outside the purview of the state government.

He added that the Apapa ports alone “are responsible for two-third of cargoes shipped into the country”.

“Aside, at least, 60 tank farms are located in different part of the business district. Most shipping companies in Apapa do not have holding bays for their consignment.”

Lawanson unveiled Rapid Intervention Squad (RIS), a new traffic control initiative, designed to put an end to the intractable traffic congestion the state had been experiencing in the recent time