Nigeria: Falana Fires Back At Lagos Govt, Says Parking Agency Lacks Legal Power to Collect Levy

The human rights lawyer maintained that it is the constitutional responsibility of the local governments and not the state to collect park levies.

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana has fired back at the Lagos State government over the newly introduced parking fees.

Mr Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in a statement Thursday insisted that the state government’s move to begin the collection of parking fees is unconstitutional.

The Lagos State government had said it had a mutual agreement with the local governments for the former to collect parking fees in the state.

“I believe that once the state passes a legislation assigning the functions of valuation of tenement rates to the local government as the Constitution has directed, only the local government council will have the power to deal with that subject,” said Mr Falana.

“The state has no power to deal with the matter and the local government council cannot, even if it wants to, divest itself of those powers.”

Background

In a post circulated on social media, the Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) issued a letter signed by its general manager, Adebisi Adelabu, informing a Lekki-based company that they were charged a total sum of N290,000 for the parking lot outside their premises.

Mr Falana had described the policy as unconstitutional and urged the state government to withdraw it without delay, according to the Punch newspaper.

But the state government defended the levy collection as constitutional.

See statement below

RE: LAGOS PARKING LEVY IS CONSTITUTIONAL

Our attention has been drawn to the press statement entitled “Lagos Parking Levy is constitutional” dated August 29, 2022, wherein Mr Adebayo Haroun Esq, SSA to the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State attempted to justify the power of the Lagos State Parking Authority to collect parking levy in respect of parking spaces in Lagos State.

In the said press statement, Mr Haroun stated that the Lagos State Parking Authority 2018 “empowers the Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas in Lagos State to assign their power in respect of collection of fees relating to the State Government.” In support of the contention, Mr Haroun referred to the case of Ola Animashaun Harimot Oluwabukola v. Attorney-General of Lagos State & 5 Ors in Appeal No. CA/L/1046 delivered on 19th November, 2018 where it was held by the Court of Appeal that the intendment of Section 1(3) of the Land Use Charge Law of Lagos State is “to give powers to the Local Government to permit a contractual relationship between it and State on the collection of taxes”.

It is curious to note that Mr. Haroun did not refer to the more relevant case of Airtel Nigeria Limited v Attorney-General of Lagos State & 3 Ors (2019) 1 NCLR 1, where the Court of Appeal held that it was unable to agree with the appellant that the third respondent (Etti Osa Local Government) does not have power to make law that relates private parking since there was nothing in the bye law that is inconsistent with Section 7 and Paragraph 1 of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution.

However, with respect to the case of Ola Animashaun Harimot Oluwabukola v. Attorney-General of Lagos State & 5 Ors, the Court of Appeal did not pay attention to the case of Knight Frank & Rutley Nigeria Limited V. Attorney General of Kano State (1998) 7 NWLR (PT 556) 1 at 24 where Kutigi JSC (as he then was) stated as follows:

“The Court of Appeal must therefore in my view be right, when it opined thus:

Could the powers of the State and Local Government Councils to order for valuation of rateable hereditaments co-exist and be complimentary? I believe that once the State passes a legislation assigning the functions of valuation of tenement rates to the Local Government as the Constitution has directed, only the Local Government Council will have the power to deal with that subject. The State has no power to deal with the matter and the Local Government Council cannot, even if it wants to, divest itself of those powers”.

In view of the authoritative pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the illegality of usurping the powers conferred on local governments by State Governments it is indisputably clear that the Local Governments cannot be legitimately divested of the powers conferred on them by section 7 of the Constitution to fix and collect parking fees in Lagos State. Therefore, the Lagos State Parking Authority lacks the power to fix and collect parking fees in Lagos State in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.

Femi Falana SAN, FCI Arb.

1st September, 2022.

Source:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.