Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Setback parking fees ‘constitutional,’ Lagos Govt replies Falana

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Lagos Government has stated that it empowered its agency, the State Parking Authority (LASPA) through extant laws to collect the controversial setback parking fees, just as it added that the local governments have already transferred their powers to the central authority.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

The affirmation followed the position by human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana SAN, who labeled the new setback parking law as ‘unconstitutional and illegal.’

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It would be recalled that the State Government had caused disquiet among residents following a memo titled; “Parking Permit And Demand Notice”, and reportedly sent to a food and snacks operator in the Lekki area of the state informing of a law which mandates LASPA to collect fees from residents for parking of vehicles in front or beside their property’s setbacks.

Known as property setbacks, the space in front of properties own by each resident which previously served as car parks is now to be taxed by the state government up to the tune of N100, 000 depending on location of the property.

Setback ordinances are property laws that govern property boundary lines. A setback is the minimum distance from the property line that a structure can be built, according to Legal Match.

The annual fee comes with a non-refundable N50, 000 payment for processing charge.

A notice signed by Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, General Manager, LASPA, says residents have only seven days to pay once served the notice.

A letter to the Manager, Nellies, 95, plot 6, Omorinre Johnson Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lekki, with Ref: No: LASPA/OPS/PP/01/22, dated August 15, 2022 stated: “The Lagos State Parking Authority, established under the law to consolidate all that relating to parking and its connected purposes with powers and functions, clearly states that the Authority shall, among others, be responsible for all forms of managed parking in the State.

“In view of the above, and in line with the administration’s policy in moving Lagos State towards a 21st century economy to align with the first pillar of THEME’S Agenda of which transportation is key, your organization is hereby served this demand notice for the setback parking (Off-Street) in front of your premises before the commencement of enforcement action.

“Based on inspection, we identified Three (3) parking slots on your setback at the rate of N80,000 per slot per annum totaling N240,000.00 (Two Hundred and Forty Thousand Naira) only.

“Also, a non-refundable Administrative/Processing fee of N50,000 (Fifty Thousand Naira) only applies based on your location totaling N290,000.00 (Two Hundred and Ninety Thousand Naira) only payable for the year 2022 to be paid into Lagos State Parking Authority account within a period of seven (7) days of receiving this letter.”

The demand notice also provided two bank accounts; one in Globus Bank and another in Polaris Bank.

It also directed that payees should attach proof of payment to process their permit.

“It’s not like they built a park and charge people but you have to pay for your own space in your own compound after driving on bad roads,” a resident lamented.

However, reacting to the development, human rights lawyer, Falana SAN,  last Sunday, described it as ‘illegal and unconstitutional,’ even as he urged the Lagos authorities to withdraw it without delay.

According to the human rights lawyer, instead of prescribing how the parks and gardens were to be managed by the local governments, the House of Assembly illegally set up the Lagos State Parking Authority to manage parks and gardens in the state.

Falana posited that since the Lagos State Parking Authority was an illegal creation, it lacked the constitutional powers to fix and collect parking levy from residents in the state in ‘any manner whatsoever and howsoever,’ adding further that the attention of the Lagos State House of Assembly ought to have been drawn to the constitutional anomaly.

“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.

“In particular, the House should be requested to set the engine in motion for the immediate repeal of the Lagos State Parking Law which was illegally enacted to consolidate ‘all that relating to parking and its connected purposes with powers and functions and which states that the Authority shall, among others, be responsible for all forms of managed parking in the State’.

“The policy of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration to move Lagos State towards a 21st-century economy must comply with the provisions of Section 7 of the Constitution and the Fourth Schedule thereof.

“The Lagos State Government and all other authorities, as well as other persons, are bound by the valid and subsisting judgment of the Court of Appeal on the exclusive power of local governments to regulate and collect parking levy in Lagos State. To that extent, the purported parking levy fixed by the Lagos State Parking Authority cannot be justified under Section 7 of the Constitution. It should be withdrawn without any delay.”

Falana’s position came despite an earlier clarification issued by the General Manager of LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, who described allegations of extortion on the particular business operator as ‘totally false, scandalous and inimical to the image of the Authority and the Lagos State Government.’

Mrs Adelabu stressed that the said business outfit was duly charged for parking cars on the road setback, which by law belongs to the Government of Lagos State.

“For the avoidance of doubt a setback, for obvious reasons, is the space between the perimeter fencing and the walkway or the road, as the case may be.

“Whoever claims he/she owns a setback around his/her property will have to provide official documentation from a State Government authorised Ministry, Department and Agency showing the legal ownership of the said setback and the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) Certificate of the property to LASPA”.

In the latest reaction, the Lagos Government, through the Senior Special Assistant to the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Adebayo Haroun, Tuesday, noted that the Local Government and Local Council Development Areas assigned their powers to the state to collect fees.

“The attention of the Lagos State Parking Authority has been drawn to a statement credited to Mr Femi Falana (SAN) on the power of the agency to collect parking levy in respect of parking spaces in Lagos State.

“The Lagos State Parking Authority Law, 2018 empowers the LG and LCDAs in Lagos State to assign their powers in respect of collection of fees relating to parking to the state government. Accordingly, by a mutual agreement, the LGAs and LCDAs in Lagos State have assigned their powers to the state government to collect fees on parking in Lagos State.

“In a similar circumstance where the Court of Appeal was called upon to interpret Section 7 and Fourth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) with regards to the Land Use Charge Law of Lagos State, the Court of Appeal in Ola Animashaun Harimot Oluwabukola v. Attorney General of Lagos State and 5 Ors in Appeal No CA/L/1046 delivered on November 19, 2018 held as follows:

“The intendment of Section 1(3) of the Land Use Charge Law of Lagos State is clearly not to take away the function constitutionally donated to the local government but to give powers to the local government to permit a contractual relationship between it and the state on the issue of collection of taxes which is clearly within the responsibility of the local government without breaching any law or constitutional provision.

“The constitution recognises that any person that has power can exercise such power through other persons or institutions. For example, the Attorney-General can exercise its powers through other persons.

“It is therefore constitutional for the state government and, by extension, the Lagos State Parking Authority to demand and collect fees in respect of parking in Lagos State.”

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