A Lagos High Court has granted accelerated hearing into the suit filed by some commercial motorcycle operators,known as  okada riders, against the Lagos State Government for banning their operations on some federal highways in the state.

The suit filed by the commercial motorcycle operators under the aegis of the All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and workers Association (ANACOWA) want the court to declare Section 3(1) of the new Lagos Traffic Law, which prohibits the riding, driving or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the major highways in Lagos, as unconstitutional.

They further asked for a declaration that the defendants have no power ‘whatsoever’ to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the Federal Trunk or Highway Roads.

They argue that restricting their operations on the said roads would violate their rights to freedom of movement, guaranteed by Section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

The defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Government, the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye.

Presiding Justice Aishat Opesanwo however dismissed an interlocutory application which they filed to restrain the government from implementing the new Lagos State Traffic Law.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr Bamidele Aturu, told the court that they were withdrawing their interlocutory application so that they could get an accelerated hearing of the main suit.

“We believe that there is a need for the court to urgently deal with this matter because it is in the interest of the generality of the populace”adding that “many of them (Okada riders) have been suffering from this draconian action of the government to restrict the motorcyclists from operating in federal high ways” stated Mr Aturu.

“We are therefore asking the court to strike out the application and grant us an accelerated hearing of the substantive suit”, he said.

In the main suit, the motorcyclists challenged the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in the state.

Road rampage

However, the Attorney general of the State, Mr Ade Ipaye who is the third defendant and counsel to Lagos State Government, informed the court that the law was already being enforced in the state with effect from the 2nd of August 2012.

He noted that “it was in reaction to its enforcement that the claimants herein only on Monday October 22, 2012 went on rampage.”

The Attorney General also noted that the law enforcement agencies were not joined as defendants in the suit.

“They are not parties to this action and we cannot tell this honourable court that they will not do their duty in enforcing the law”, he said.

The court has however fixed the 16th of November for hearing of the substantive suit.