By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
The Muhammadu Buhari led federal government on Monday asked the Supreme Court to declare the Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Law No 5 of 2009 unconstitutional and to order the state to refund all the monies collected through the law.
The law was passed in 2009 when Babatunde Fashola, now the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, was the state governor. It imposes levies which vary from N1,000 to N3,000 on consignments transported from Lagos ports into the local government areas of the state.
In an originating summons filed on behalf of the federal government by Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), the Attorney General of the Federation asked the court to declare that the state has no power to make law on any maritime, shipping and navigation matter including ‘Wharf Landing’ which are exclusively reserved for the federal government in item 36 of the Exclusive Legislative List, Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
The federal government also asked for an order directing Lagos State to account, refund and pay to it all the sums it has charged, received and collected pursuant to the implementation of the Wharf Landing Fees Law. It put the refunds at billions of naira.
The federal government also wants the apex court to authorise it to deduct the accounted sum from the statutory allocation due to the state from the Federation Account.
In a brief filed in support of the originating summons, Agbakoba argued that the intent and purpose of the Wharf Landing Fees Law, “is very clear from the nature of the law itself; which is to levy taxes and tariffs on goods and consignment imported from overseas through the sea ports in the state.”
According to him, the law encroaches on the powers of the federal government to collect import duties and customs duties..