The increasing chaotic traffic situation and incidences of crime in Benin City and its environs may soon be compounded, following the judgment of the Court of Appeal upturning the ban on commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada.
Recall that on the 11th of June 2013, Governor Adams Aliu Oshionmhole, who was then the Governor of Edo State, issued a verbal order banning 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.
He also ordered law enforcement agencies to arrest and confiscate and also prosecute any rider of a Motorcycle in the affected areas.
But the Court of Appeal, Benin Judicial Division, on Wednesday, May 18, 2021, overturned the Edo State Governor’s 2013 ban on the use of Motorcycles in the specified areas.
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 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.
The Court of Appeal in upholding the appeal, granted the reliefs of the appellants in part, and said “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 court further said and awarded the sum of N301, 000 as compensation and costs in favour of the Appellants against the Governor of Edo State.
The lead Judgement was delivered by His Lordship, Georgewill Biobele Brown JCA, while other Justices concurred with the lead Judgment.
Dissatisfied with the ban on motorcycles, the Appellants, briefed their Counsel, Dele Igbinedion Esq, who filed a lawsuit before the Federal High Court, Benin City, wherein the Plaintiffs 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 Motorcycles.
The Plaintiffs however disagreed with the reasoning of the learned trial Judge and filed an appeal through their lawyer, Dele Igbinedion Esq., against the Judgment at the Court of Appeal seeking the setting aside of the Judgement.
Speaking shortly after the Judgment, Counsel for the Appellants, Dele Igbinedion Esq., 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”, Igbinedion said.