An Ikeja High Court on Monday ordered Oshodi Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos to pay N1million as compensation to a motorist, Mr Louis Idahosa for extorting N28,000 from him for allegedly driving against traffic (one-way).
Delivering judgment, Justice Obafemi Adamson, held that local governments lacked 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 he drove “one-way” was illegal.
Justice Adamson held that the applicant’s fundamental human rights as enshrined in Sections 34, 36, 41(1) and 44 the 1999 Constitution was breached by the local government.
“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 offence, 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 N1 million compensation awarded in favour of the applicant for breaching his rights to a fair hearing and freedom of movement, Justice Adamson also awarded N100,000 against the counsel for Oshodi LGA, Mr L.O. Mazoke.
According to Eze, Idahosa on Aug. 28, 2019 while being driven by his driver in his Toyota Corolla car with registration number KRD551CZ along Oyetoyo St., in front of the Oshodi/Isolo LGA, they were accosted by six men who were not in uniform.
“They stopped and arrested Idahosa and his driver insisting the driver contravene traffic laws by driving one-way and were taken into the LGA office.
“Idahosa insisted that any crime had been committed, he and his driver should be arraigned in court.
“Officials of the respondent did not agree to an arraignment but resorted to harassing, intimidating and threatening them with continuous detention.
“The applicant was forced to pay N28,000 into the respondents treasury.
“He however discovered that only N25,000 was written on the receipt issued and upon enquiry, he was informed that the outstanding N3,000 was gate pass fee,” Eze said.
The LGA also noted that it did not authorise anyone to extort money from the applicant.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)