The Court of Appeal, Lagos has reaffirmed the earlier judgement of Hon. Justice Y. O. Idowu of the High Court that private parking lots are legitimate revenue source for Local Governments in Lagos State.
Delivering judgement on an appeal filed by Airtel Network Limited against the previous ruling of Justice Idowu, the Appellate Court stated that the Local Government functions were not exhaustive and do not fall outside the scope of section 7(5) and Schedule 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) as the provisions were clear and not inconsistent.
The Court noted further that that it was unable to agree with the Appellant that the 3rd Respondent (Eti-Osa Local Government) does not have power to regulate/make law that relates to private parking since there is nothing in the Bye-Law that is inconsistent with Section 7 and paragraph 1 of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution.
The Appellate Court in CA/L/311/2013, therefore, sustained the arguments of the Attorney General of Lagos State and upheld the previous judgment of the Lagos High Court which had earlier dismissed the Appellant’s Originating Summons of 2nd February, 2011.
The Appellant, Airtel Networks Limited, operated a private parking lot within the jurisdiction of the 3rd Respondent, Eti-Osa Local Government and had contested that the latter was restricted in collection of levies to the public motor parks.
In a brief of argument before the Court, the Appellant distilled two issues for determination and these were whether by virtue of Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Fourth Schedule thereof, the functions of the Local Government which includes establishment, maintenance and regulation of motor parks envisaged or relates to private car parks/car lots and whether the 3rd Respondent has power to enact its Parking and Control of Traffic Bye-Laws as a basis to impose a parking permit fee on the Appellant.
However, the Lagos Attorney General, represented by Akinkunmi Idowu, a Director in the State Ministry of Justice, argued that the Lagos State House of Assembly enacted the LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ADMINISTRATION) LAW (As Amended) pursuant to section 7 of the Constitution and the 3rd Respondent was given powers to make its own Bye-Laws.
The Attorney-General submitted that there is clear and unambiguous intendment of the legislature to include private parking lots within the purview of the affected areas subject to the law and it is settled law that where the words of a statute are plain and ambiguous, they must be given their plain meaning.