LAGOS State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeola Rahman Ipaye, on Monday, told Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, to dismiss a suit challenging the proposed collection of toll on the new Lekki-Ikoyi suspension bridge.
The suit was filed by a Lagos-based activist and lawyer, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, against the Lagos State Government, challenging the legality of erecting a bridge on a federal navigable waterway and collecting toll from it.
When the case was called for mention on Monday, the AG informed the court of a preliminary objection filed by the state, contesting the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.
He told the court that the applicant’s suit was incompetent and premature, as there was no decision as to whether or not to collect toll on the bridge yet.
“All remedies sought by the applicant are in respect of the tolling, since they have not suggested that the bridge be removed. In the first place, the applicant commenced this suit by an originating summon, which ought not to be the appropriate mode of commencing an action of this nature.
“There are uncontroversial facts that the bridge in question has not even been formally handed over to the Lagos State government and so, the applicant’s action is too early.
“The court does not deal with hypothetical cases of this nature, but that with substantial evidence.
“The sole evidence in support of the applicant’s claim is the newspaper publication which does not testify to the veracity of the facts contained in it,” Ipaye said.
The AG further argued that the National Inland Water way Act (NIWA) did not prevent states from building bridges upon its waterway, adding that Section 315 (1) (b) of the Act empowered states to make laws bordering on internal water- ways.
Ipaye, in submission, urged the court to dismiss the suit for lacking merit, as there was no allegation that the bridge impeded navigation.
In reaction, the applicant told the court that the pivotal issue before it concerned the supremacy of two laws, adding that NIWA Act was duly enacted by the National Assembly and vest all federal navigable waterways on the Federal Government.
Adegboruwa further objected to the contention by the AG that the Lagos State Inland Water Way Laws of 2011 had repealed the NIWA Act.
“It is an anomaly for a state law to repeal a Federal law.
Section 4(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provides for the superiority of federal laws over state laws and renders void, any law which is inconsistent with it” he said.
He therefore urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection and uphold the case of the applicant.
Justice Saidu adjourned the matter till July 9, 2013 for ruling.
Adegorowa had filed the suit on November 26, 2012, over alleged proposed collection of N500 toll on the newly constructed Lekki-Ikoyi bridge.
He stated in his originating summons that reports on the proposed toll collection was published by the Guardian newspaper of October, 8, 2012 and asked the court for an injunction restraining the government from collecting any toll from motorists on the bridge.
Those joined as respondents in the suit is the Attorney General of the Federation, and the National Inland Water Ways Authority.