The Lagos State government will appeal a court ruling that declared toll collection on the Lekki-Ikoyi Suspension Bridge illegal.
Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, who stated the state’s position after Thursday’s judgment also said there was no specific court order barring the state government from collecting tolls on the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday declared the collection of tolls on the newly constructed bridge illegal as there was no existing law in Lagos State to back it up.
Justice Saliu Saidu, while delivering judgment in a suit by a Human Rights activist, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, against the Lagos State Government (LASG) over collection of toll on the bridge, said that he considered the case on its merit, rather than delving into technical issues raised in the addresses of counsel.
The judge had said the power to control the Lekki Lagoon and other Federal Navigable Waterways was vested in the Federal Government and that the bridge was not a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative for which the collection of tolls could be allowed.
However, Ipaye said would immediately appeal the judgment and also seek a stay of its execution, adding: “From what we heard, no consequential orders were made. No declarations were made by the court.
“This is an ambiguity that is being exploited already. The court did not make any pronouncement that tolling should be stopped on the bridge,” he said.
Ipaye also said the judge erred when he ruled that the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority was the only agency authorised to regulate inland waterways in Nigeria.
“The second fundamental error was the assumption of the court that the Private Public Partnership (PPP) Law of Lagos State 2011, which we cited in support of toll collection did not apply, simply because the bridge construction was not by PPP,” he said.
According to him, contrary to the court’s assumption, Section 29 of the law clearly states that it applies to public infrastructure or public assets and that tolls could be collected on any public infrastructure irrespective of whether it was constructed using PPP or not.
He also said the collection of toll was to enable the state to offset debts incurred on the construction and to maintain the bridge.
His words: “The judgment read this morning did not specifically address many questions raised by the applicant; neither did it grant any of the declarations sought.
“However, the pronouncements referred to above are capable of being interpreted as court orders, hence our decision to appeal and seek a stay of execution immediately,” he added.
He appealed to road users to continue to pay the toll pending the determination of the appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos.