By Osaigbovo Iguobaro
Court of Appeal, Benin Division has set aside the judgement of the lower court which held that motorcycle riders’ fundamental rights to freedom of movement was not infringed upon.
Recall that Edo State government under the leadership of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole had in 2013 placed ban on the use of Motorcycles better known as “Okada” in Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba Okha Local Government Areas as well as Oluku and Ekosodin areas of Ovia North East Local Government Areas and Eyaen area of Uhunmwode Local Government Area, citing security reasons.
He had also ordered law enforcement agencies to arrest, confiscate and prosecute any rider of a motorcycle in the affected areas.
Dissatisfied with the ban, the appellants, through their Counsel, Mr Dele Igbinedion, filed a suit before the Federal High Court, Benin City, challenging the power of the Edo State Governor to ban the use of motorcycles through a verbal order.
However, in its judgement on Tuesday, the appellate court dismissed the judgement of the lower court and upheld the arguments of Counsel for the appellants Mr. Dele Igbinedion 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.
In the lead Judgement delivered by Justice Georgewill Biobele Brown, the court held, “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 sum of N301, 000 (Three Hundred and One Thousand Naira) was awarded as compensation and costs in favour of the Appellants against the Governor of Edo State”
Speaking after the Judgment, Counsel for the Appellants, Dele Igbinedion, 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.
“Edo people can now ride their Motorcycles anywhere in Oredo, Ikpoba Okha, Egor Local Government Council Areas. Edo people can ride their Motorcycles in Oluku and Ekosodin axis of Ovia North East Local Government Council. Edo people can ride their Motorcycles in Eyaen axis of Uhunmwonde Local Government Council area.
“In fact, anyone can now ride Motorcycles in any part of Edo State”.
Any security agent who molests anyone riding a motorcycle in any part of Edo State does so in contempt of the order of the Court of Appeal.”