By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, stayed its judgment, which declared unlawful, the collection of toll on the newly constructed Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge in Lagos.
Trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, granted the stay, following an application by the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, who had prayed the court to stay the judgment, pending the determination of its appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos, challenging the judgment.
It will be recalled that Lagos lawyer and activist, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, had dragged the Lagos State Government before the court, challenging its collection of toll on the bridge.Other respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF and the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA.
The trial court had on March 27, in its judgment, declared that the imposition of such toll on the bridge was unlawful, on the grounds that there was no law in existence, authorising its collection.
The court had held that there was nothing before the court to show that the construction of the bridge was as a result of a Public Private Partnership Law, since it was constructed with funds of the Lagos government.
The lower court consequently held that the Lagos government can only validly collect toll on the bridge, if a law was enacted to give validity to such tolling.
But Ipaye had on March 28, prayed the court to stay the judgment, pending the hearing of an appeal before the appellate court.
Ruling on the application, Justice Saidu considered “whether the court is inclined to grant a stay of execution in view of the facts placed before it.”According to the judge, ”A stay of execution of a judgment can only be granted, if the court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances which warrants stay.
The court must also take into account the competing rights of parties. In an application for stay, the affidavit in support must state grounds of appeal, and must show that special circumstances exist for the court to grant stay.”
The court also held that the issues formulated by Adegboruwa in his cross appeal against the judgment, raises recondite issues of law to be determined on appeal.
”I can hold that there exist special and exceptional circumstances that will warrant me to grant a stay of execution.
”Even though the applicant had alleged that the Third and Fourth applicant for stay of execution are in disobedience of the judgment of this court, a party cannot be held to be in disobedience of an order he is appealing against.
”I hereby grant an order for stay of execution on the judgment of this court delivered on March 27, pending the determination of an appeal filed against the judgment,” the judge said.