IN an unexpected judgement, the Court of Appeals sitting in Benin City, Wednesday ruled that commercial motor cycles popularly called okada are free to return to the streets of Benin City, Edo State capital.
It would be recalled that the administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had on June 11th 2013 banned the use of motorcycles in Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba Okha Local Government Areas and Oluku and Ekosodin areas of Ovia North East Local Government Areas and Eyaen area of Uhunmwonde Local Government Area citing security issues, constituting nusance and part of the urban renewal programs of his administration and in it’s place introduced branded commercial taxies with priority given to the former okada riders.
But delivering Judgement in Appeal No. CA/B/341/2014 between Mr. Charles Apiloko James and another vs Edo State Government and 5 others, the court upheld the arguments of Counsel for the Appellants Dele Igbinedion Esq., that the Governor of Edo State lacked the legal powers to ban the use of motorcycles in any part of the State by mere verbal pronouncement.
He said “It is hereby declared that the governor’s verbal ban of the use of motorcycles was unconstitutional, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
“An order is issued forthwith setting aside the Governor’s verbal ban on the use of Motorcycles”, the court further awarded the sum of N301, 000 as compensation and costs in favour of the Appellants against the Governor of Edo State.
The lead Judgement was delivered by His Lordship, Georgewill Biobele Brown JCA, while other Justices concurred with the lead Judgment. The appellants had approached the Federal High Court when the order was made and the court dismissed the suit, stating that the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights to freedom of movement was not infringed because if security agents stopped them from using Motorcycles, then they could have used other means to move around other than Motorcycles.
The Plaintiffs however disagreed with the reasoning of the learned trial Judge and filed an appeal through their lawyer, Dele Igbinedion Esq., against the Judgment at the Court of Appeal seeking the setting aside of the Judgement.
Speaking shortly after the Judgment, Counsel for the Appellants, Dele Igbinedion Esq., said “The effect of this judgment is far reaching. It means that Edo People are now free to ride their motorcycles in the whole of Edo State without fear of molestation.”