Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN has lambasted the Lagos State government for implementing the setback parking tax in the state.
Falana on Sunday called the policy illegal and urged the state government to withdraw it without delay.
The Lagos State Parking Authority had, in a letter to the food and snacks company, said it had charged the company N290,000 for parking outside the business premises.
According to the letter, the food company was asked to pay N80,000 a year each for the three car parks, along with a non-refundable administrative processing fee of N50,000.
But the move drew a backlash from different individuals and groups, including the Peoples’ Democratic Party, who described it as a plot to milk locals to “fund the individual ambition of a man who had held the State and its people by the jugular”.
In a statement, the agency’s chief executive, Adebisi Adelabu, called the allegation reckless and playful, adding that the agency was set up under the 2019 transport reform act. of Lagos State and an Act of the State Assembly in 2019, to manage parking. activities and change the parking culture of the state by implementing policies in line with international parking standards.
But Falana said the Lagos State Parking Authority was illegal because the state government lacked the constitutional jurisdiction to create a park management body under the current democratic dispensation.
“Under Article 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, local governments are solely responsible for establishing and maintaining motor fleets in any of the states of the federation. Furthermore, it is the sole responsibility of local government authorities to build and maintain parks, gardens, open spaces or public facilities as prescribed by the House of Assembly,” he added. .
According to the human rights lawyer, instead of prescribing how parks and gardens were to be managed by local governments, the House of Assembly illegally created the Lagos State Parking Authority to manage parks and gardens in the State.
He said that since the Lagos State Parking Authority was an unlawful creation, it lacked the constitutional powers to set and collect a parking charge from residents of the state in “any way it would be”.
He added that the attention of the National Assembly in Lagos should have been drawn to the constitutional anomaly.
Falana added, “In particular, the House should be urged to start the engine for the immediate repeal of the Lagos State Parking Act, which was illegally enacted to consolidate ‘everything pertaining to the parking and its related purposes with powers and functions and which states that the Authority shall, among other things, be responsible for all forms of managed parking in the State”.
“The policy of the Babajide Sanwoolu administration aimed at moving Lagos State towards a 21st century economy must be consistent with the provisions of Article 7 of the Constitution and its Fourth Schedule.
“In Aitel Nigeria Limited v Attorney-General of Lagos State & Three Others (2019) 1 NCLR 1, the Lagos State High Court held that the by-law authorizing Eti Osa Local Government Area to levy a tax plaintiff’s parking lot was in order Unsatisfied with the judgment, the plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeal.
“In dismissing the appeal and affirming the lower court’s decision, the Court of Appeal found that it was unable to agree with the appellant that the third defendant does not have power to legislate concerning private parking since there was nothing in the bye law inconsistent with article 7 and paragraph 1 of the fourth schedule of the constitution.
“The Lagos State Government and all other authorities and other persons are bound by the valid and effective judgment of the Court of Appeal on the exclusive power of local governments to regulate and collect the parking fee in Lagos State. To this extent, the alleged parking fee set by the Lagos State Parking Authority cannot be justified under Section 7 of the Constitution. It must be removed without delay.