Femi Falana SAN, a human rights attorney, has blasted the Lagos State Government for enforcing the setback parking tax in the state.
On Sunday, Falana referred to the practice as unlawful and urged the state government to immediately discontinue it.
In a letter to the food and snack company, the Lagos State Parking Authority declared that it had taxed the company N290,000 for the parking lot outside the company’s premises.
The food establishment was required, per the letter, to pay a non-refundable administrative processing charge of N50,000 as well as N80,000 annually for each of the three parking lots.
But the move attracted a backlash from different individuals and groups, including the Peoples Democratic Party, which described it as a plot to milk residents to “finance the individual ambition of one man who had held the state and its people by the jugular”.
In a statement, the General Manager of the agency, Adebisi Adelabu, described the allegation as reckless and mischievous, adding that the agency was established under the Lagos State Transport Reform Law 2019, and an Act of the State Assembly in 2019, to manage parking activities and change the parking culture of the state by implementing policies that were in line with international parking standards.
But Falana said the Lagos State Parking Authority was illegal as the state government lacked the constitutional competence to set up a body for the management of parks under the current democratic dispensation.
By virtue of Section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, it is the exclusive constitutional responsibility of local governments to establish and maintain motor parks in any of the states of the federation. Furthermore, it is the sole responsibility of local government authorities to construct and maintain parks, gardens, open spaces, or public facilities as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly.
On Illegal Authority
The human rights attorney claims that the House of Assembly illegally established the Lagos State Parking Authority to oversee parks and gardens in the state rather than dictating how local governments should manage parks and gardens.
The Lagos State Parking Authority, he claimed, lacked constitutional authority to set and collect parking fees from state citizens in “any form whatsoever and howsoever” since it was an unconstitutional creation.
Falana continued by saying that the Lagos State House of Assembly should have been made aware of the constitutional irregularity.