A Federal High Court, Lagos, which declared toll collection on Lekki-Ikoyi bridge illegal, has ordered a stay of execution of the judgment.
Justice Saliu Saidu, in a ruling on Friday, granted the application for stay of execution filed by the Lagos State Government, on March 28, the day after the judgment was delivered.
With the court’s ruling, toll collection will continue on the bridge, pending the determination of government’s appeal challenging the judgment.
“I hereby grant the application for stay of execution of the judgment delivered on March 27, 2014 pending the determination of the appeal of the applicants,” Saidu said.
In his reaction to the ruling, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, the lawyer who instituted the suit in which the court delivered the judgment, said he was ready for the appeal.
“We will pursue the appeal. The ruling is just temporary; it is not a reversal of the judgment of the court”, Adegboruwa said.
The state government and the Attorney General in the state, Mr. Ade Ipaye, who are both the 3rd and 4th respondents in the main suit, had filed the application for stay of execution on the grounds of its appeal against the court’s judgment.
The court rejected Adegboruwa’s allegation that the state government was not entitled to be granted the application because it had disobeyed the judgment.
“Though the respondent (Adegboruwa) has alleged that the applicants have disobeyed the judgment of court, a party cannot be held for disobeying an order he is appealing against,” the court held.
The court added that the application by the state government fulfilled the necessary legal requirements, as its appeal and Adegboruwa’s cross appeal against the judgment presented “arguable grounds of appeal” and “recondite and substantial legal issues” to be sorted out by the Court of Appeal.
The judge added that the facts presented before the court by the applicants, were in his view, “special and exceptional circumstances” which warranted the granting of the application.
The Attorney General of the Federation and the National Inland Waterways were the 1st and 2nd respondents in the main suit.
The two parties however did not oppose the state government’s application for stay of execution.
The government had on March 28, 2014, a day after the judgment was delivered, filed a notice of appeal and an application for stay of execution of the judgment.
The government insisted in its appeal filed before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal that the lower court was wrong to have held that there was no existing law backing toll collection on the bridge.
It maintained that there were provisions of the Public Private Partnership Law in the state backing toll collection on the bridge such public asset.
At the hearing of the application for stay of execution April 17, Adegboruwa had accused the government of continually violating the judgment of the court with the continued toll collection on the bridge.
“Right from the day judgment was delivered, tolling has continued on the bridge. They had shown that they were not going to obey the court’s judgment. As soon as the Attorney-General stepped out of the court, he had said they were not going to obey the judgment”, Adegboruwa said.
But Ipaye, representing his office and the government, denied violating any court order.
Ipaye maintained that the court in its judgment never made any declarative or consequential order barring toll collection on the bridge.
“The respondent (Adegboruwa) has also filed a cross-appeal, and the cross-appeal is to the effect that there was no court order. I wonder why he is suggesting that we are the only one saying so”, Ipaye said.