Commercial motorcyclists (okada riders) sue Lagos State Govt over new Traffic Law

Commercial motorcyclists, popularly called okada riders, have sued to challenge the new Lagos State Road Traffic Law prohibiting them from riding on major highways in the state.

A suit filed on Monday, on behalf of the Incorporated Trustees of all Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association (ANACOWA), asked the court to restrain the state government and “its agents, servants, officers, and or privies by whomsoever and howsoever from prohibiting the Claimants and members of their Associations from riding, driving and or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the major highways in Lagos.”

Joined in the suit are the Attorney General of Lagos State and Lagos State House of Assembly.

ANACOWA’s counsel, Bamidele Aturu, also asked that the state government and its agents be stopped “from molesting, harassing, arresting, seizing their motorcycles or vehicles and in any other way subjecting them to any treatment, disadvantage or disfavour [sic] not suffered by any other road users.”

He argued that the highways where the motorcyclists are being prohibited in the traffic law are not state government roads. He, therefore, described the law as “ultra vires, illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null, void, oppressive, inoperative and of no effect whatsoever.”

Stressing his case, Aturu stated that the highways listed in Items 1-11, Schedule II of the law are federal trunk roads as stated in the Federal Highways Act of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

Such major highways listed in the law and being referenced by Aturu, include: the Lagos-Ibadan, Apapa-Oshodi, Lagos-Ikorodu, Lagos-Abeokuta, Lagos-Badagry, and Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressways.

Also, through an injunction, Aturu is seeking the release of all motorcycles belonging to ANACOWA, seized by the “defendants and their agents and/or officers.”

He also accused the state government of violating people’s right to engage in economic activities outside of the major sectors of the economy by the law’s prohibition of driving, propelling of cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on some routes in the state.