Restriction of movement on environmental day cancelled

A federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, Southwest Ngeria this morning presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris has nullified the monthly environmental sanitation policy of the Lagos State Government, which keep residents indoors, between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. every last saturday of the month.sanitation

The court held that there is no law in place in Lagos state, which stipulates that citizens of the state be kept indoors compulsorily between those hours. The court found that the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, grants freedom of movement to every citizen, and such freedom cannot be taken away by executive proclamation, in the absence of any law to that effect.

It found that there is no regulation in force presently, in Lagos State, which authorizes the restriction of movement of citizens, on the last Saturdays of the month, for the purpose of observing environmental sanitation.

On Monday March 9, 2015, Justice Idris, presiding over a federal high court, Ikoyi, Lagos, took arguments in respect of the suit filed by human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, against the Inspector-General of Police and the Lagos State Government, to challenge the restriction of human movements on the last Saturday of every month, for the purpose of observing environmental sanitation.

Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, led Mr Gbenga Awoseye, to argue the case himself. Lagos State Govt was represented in court by Mr Jonathan Ogunsanya, chief state counsel from the ministry of justice.

In the suit, Adegboruwa was contending that there is no law in force in Lagos state, presently, restricting movement of persons, for the purpose of observing environmental sanitation. He argued that section 39 of the Environmental Sanitation Law 2000, of Lagos State, which the respondents claimed to empower the Commissioner for the Environment, to make regulations, cannot be the basis of restricting human movement on Saturdays, as no regulation in force has indeed been made for that purpose.

He challenged the Lagos State Govt to produce such regulation before the court. He then urged the court to hold that even if there is such regulation in force, it cannot be enforced on roads that are designated as federal highways under the Highways Act, such as the 3rd Mainland bridge where he was arrested by the police and Lastma officials.

Ogunsaya, in his response, argued that section 41 of the 1999 Constitution permits government to make laws that may derogate from the right to freedom of movement and that the Environmental Sanitation Law of Lagos State, 2000, is an example of such derogation. He argued further that the practice of keeping people at home for three hours only on the last Saturdays of the month is meant to keep society and environment clean and safe.

Therefore, he said that there are classified exceptions to the restriction, including emergencies and ambulance services and those on essential services.
After hearing arguments from counsel, the court adjourned the case till today for judgment.

After the jugement Barrister Ebun Adegboruewa while addressing journalist at the premises of the court said: “I am committed to the struggle to eradicate all forms of arbitrariness and impunity from our society.”

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