The matter was adjourned to November 16 by the court.
The Lagos State Government has said that despite the several ongoing harassments of commercial motorcycle operators and seizure of their motorcycles by enforcement agencies, it is yet to begin the implementation of the new traffic law which bans the cyclists from major roads in the state.
The State Government made this claim to a Lagos High Court on Wednesday, through the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Ade Ipaye; and his predecessor and Professor of Law, Yemi Osibajo.
Both men, Messrs Ipaye and Osibajo, told the court that the state has not started implementing the law banning the Okada riders from operation.
The motorcyclists, under the aegis of Incorporated Trustees of All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association, dragged the state to court to reverse the ban of their activities in most parts of the state, particularly on the federal highways.
Joined in the suit, as defendants, are the Lagos State Government, the State’s Attorney General, and the House of Assembly. Mr. Ipaye represented himself and the Lagos State Government; while Mr. Osibajo, is standing in for the House of Assembly.
“There are no such facts as alleged by the defendants,” Mr. Ipaye said, in response to claims that they have begun enforcement.
The Attorney General insinuated that the activities of the enforcement agencies were not directly related to the Lagos Traffic Law.
“The Okada riders went on rampage on Monday…. Enforcement agencies are not parties to this matter. I can’t on their behalf say to this court that they will not do their duty,” Mr. Ipaye said.
Counsel to the motorcyclists, Bamidele Aturu, expressed his shock at the statements of the State’s counsels.
Mr. Aturu said that he was “startled” at the state’s claim that they are a separate entity from the enforcement agencies.
“The Commissioner of Police takes instruction from the governor in respect of enforcement,” he said.
At the court, on Wednesday, the motorcyclists filled the court room to the brim, most of them spilling into the corridor. Others, armed with placards, waited outside the high court’s premises.
“The defendants have no power whatsoever to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the federal trunk or highway roads listed in Schedule II to the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, No 4 of 2012 and in the Federal Highways Act, cap F13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” the motorcyclists said in their court arguments.
Mr. Aturu prayed the court to grant an accelerated hearing of the main suit “so that we can deal with this matter.” He also withdrew an initial suit for interlocutory injunction in which he asked the court to restrain the state from enforcement of the law.
The court adjourned the hearing to November 16.