Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge: Lagos Appeals Court’s JudgmentLatest News, News Friday, March 28th, 2014
Ayo Balogun, Lagos
The Lagos State Government says it will immediately appeal the judgment of the Federal High Court in Lagos which stopped the state government from collecting tolls on the N29 billion Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge.
At a news conference on Thursday in Lagos, Nigeria, State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye said the judgment delivered by the court contained two or three fundamental errors.
“We are therefore filing an appeal as well as an application for stay of execution immediately. Firstly, without addressing the submissions of the parties on the point, the court held that the payment made by Julius Berger (Contractor to the state government) to the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in respect of the bridge construction, amounted to a concession that NIWA was the only authority to regulate inland waterways in Nigeria.
“With utmost respect for His Lordship, the 3rd and 4th Respondents (Lagos State Government) never made such concession. The payment of N10 million was made by our contractors when NIWA was stalling the multi-billion naira construction,” he said.
According to Ipaye, government expressly indicated to the court that it filed the proof of payment by “our contractor without prejudice to our very comprehensive arguments on the right of the state to control its inland waterways. It was not as a concession to the applicant’s claim.”
The commissioner said the second fundamental error was the assumption of the court that the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Law of Lagos State which was cited in support of toll collection did not apply, simply because the bridge construction was not by PPP.
He added that contrary to the court’s assumption, section 29 of the law clearly states that it applied to public infrastructure or public assets, saying that told chargeable under the law could clearly be on any public infrastructure or assets, not necessarily on those built with PPP.
“In any case, the maintenance and tolling of the bridge is in fact by a private sector company to which a concession was granted by Lagos State Government. It is also noteworthy that the claimant never sought from the court any declaration to the effect that ‘there was no law to cover the collection of tolls on the bridge.’ The pronouncement made in this regard was not one of the nine declarations sought by the applicant,” he explained.
Ipaye also argued that the judgment did not specifically addressed many of the questions raised by the applicant, neither did it grant any of the declarations sought as no order was made by the court, stressing that the pronouncements made by the judge were cable of being interpreted as court orders, hence, government’s decision to appeal and sought a stay of execution immediately.
The commissioner justified that toll collection was to augment the State’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, enable the state to offset debts incurred on the construction and keep the bridge properly maintained.
“It is also to enhance the state’s capacity to replicate similar major infrastructure projects for rapid development across the state. We are therefore naturally concerned by any development that may jeopardize these benefits and will do our best to seek a reversal of the said pronouncements,” he stated.
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