The Court of Appeal, Benin Judicial Division, overturned the Edo State Governor’s 2013 ban on 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 on 18th May 2021.
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 of Appeal 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.
It will be recalled that on the 11th of June 2013, Governor Adams Aliu Oshionmhole, who was then the governor of the state, issued a verbal order banning the use of motorcycles in the aforestated areas. He also ordered law enforcement agencies to arrest and confiscate and also prosecute any rider of a motorcycle in the affected areas.
Dissatisfied with the ban, the Appellants, briefed their counsel, Dele Igbinedion Esq, who filed a lawsuit before the Federal High Court, Benin City, wherein the Plaintiffs forcefully challenged the power of the Edo State Governor to ban the use of motorcycles through a verbal order.
The Federal High 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 by motorcycles.
The plaintiffs did not agree with the reasoning of the learned trial Judge, so they promptly filed an appeal through their lawyer, Dele Igbinedion Esq., against the Judgment on behalf of the Plaintiffs to the Court of Appeal seeking the setting aside of the Judgement.
Eventually, justice visited the Appellants when the Court of Appeal upheld their appeal in part, granted their reliefs in part, and held, inter alia, that:
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 Esq., stated as follows:
“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.”
The lead Judgement was delivered by His Lordship, Georgewill Biobele Brown JCA, while other Justices concurred with the lead Judgment.
For those of you celebrating the ban of open-grazing by southern Governors, just know that the ban will suffer the same fate in court if the ban is challenged in court.
Our Governors do not have such powers to impose the ban or other such ban. It is only the State Houses of Assembly that can propose such bills for their respective states and passed into law by the Governors of the various states by giving assent.
You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. This is a democracy and the Governors rule by fiat. We are governed by laws. Law is not sentiments. You don’t put the cart before the horse.