Judge faults Lagos for calling self “The State of Lagos”

Magistrate court

The Judge says Lagos is wrong to refer to itself in that way when it is just one of the states in the Nigerian federation

The trial of a teenager and three persons accused of robbing a church during a vigil was stalled on Tuesday as the judge, Ebenezer Adebajo, questioned the prosecutorial power of Lagos State after it referred to itself as “The State of Lagos”.

Justice Adebajo of a Lagos High Court ruled that “The State of Lagos” was not the same thing as Lagos state, because Lagos state exists as a part of the Nigerian federation and that using the name “The State of Lagos” suggested that the state belongs to Lagos.

The defendants, Jamiu Saka, 16; Yusuf Lateef, 19; Chukwudi Onwuharanye, 18 and David Onokpise, 19, were alleged to have on May 19, 2012, invaded Sowers Ministry International during a vigil, armed with guns and cutlasses, and robbed the General Overseer of said church, Nelson Opara, of his mobile phone and money.

The defendants were arraigned on a three-count charge, offences that are contrary to Section 295(2) (b) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011, and they pleaded not guilty.

When the court proceedings commenced on Tuesday, the state counsel, Olaitan Soetan, argued with Justice Adebajo that the matter could not go on as “The State of Lagos” was used as prosecution.

The judge however countered the argument stating that “Section 3 of the Constitution is headed States of the Federation. It is by virtue of this section that a State belonging to the Federation, note the use of the word ‘of,’ is named as Lagos. Thus we have Lagos State.”

He further argued that “this application is brought against The State of Lagos. It is a State belonging to Lagos” and then asked “does Lagos own a State? Who is Lagos or what is Lagos?”

“Lagos exists by virtue of Section 3 of the Constitution and it comprises of named local government areas. To say “The State of Lagos” is to refer in my opinion to a State that belongs to Lagos.

“It is not the same thing as Lagos State. It is for this reason that I do not accept that the party against whom the application is brought exists.”

Justice Adebajo subsequently adjourned the matter to December 19 for ruling to be delivered on the prosecutorial power of Lagos State using “The State of Lagos”.

Lagos state led a host of states in the southwestern part of Nigeria by developing its own flag and coat of arms in 2011 as rights of federating states.

Bayela and Kwara states also have their own flags and anthems.

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