An Ikeja High Court has ordered Oshodi Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos to pay N1million compensation to a motorist, Mr Louis Idahosa for extorting N28,000 from him for allegedly driving against traffic (one-way).
Delivering the judgement, Justice Obafemi Adamson said that local governments lack the constitutional power to impound vehicles and to inflict traffic related penalties on road users.
The judge said that threatening, harassing and extorting N28,000 from Idahosa by Oshodi LGA officials and impounding his vehicle under the guise that driving “one-way” was illegal.
Justice Adamson noted that the applicant’s fundamental human rights as enshrined in Sections 34, 36, 41(1) and 44 the 1999 Constitution was breached by Oshodi LGA.
The judge ordered the LGA to refund the Idahosa the N28,000 and gave an injunction restraining Oshodi LGA from harassing road users.
“An Order is hereby granted directing the respondents (Oshodi LGA) to refund to the applicant (Idahosa) N28,000 which was extorted from him under the guise that he drove one-way without affording him fair hearing.
“An Order of perpetual injunction is hereby granted restraining the respondent or its agents from harassing, threatening or arresting motorists or road users for traffic offences, imposing fines and impounding vehicles.
“Doing so is ultra vires (beyond legal power or authority) their powers outlined under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended),” Justice Adamson said.
In addition to the N1million compensation awarded in favour of the applicant for breaching his right to a fair hearing and freedom of movement, Justice Adamson also awarded a cost of N100,000 against the counsel for Oshodi LGA, Mr L. O Mazoke.
Idahosa had, via his counsel, Mr Emmanuel Eze, filed a fundamental human rights suit dated September 3, 2019 against Oshodi LGA.