The Federal Government has commenced move to retrieve funds earned by Lagos State Government through its Wharf Landing Fees Law No. 5 of 2009 introduced by the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola.
The Federal Government has filed a suit, in this regard before the Supreme Court, urging it to among others, declare the law unconstitutional and order the state to refund all it had earned through the law since its implementation kicked off.
The law imposes levies which vary from N300 to N1,000 on consignments transported from Lagos ports to other parts of the state and the country.
The plaintiff also wants the court to declare that Lagos State has no power to make law on any maritime, shipping and navigation matters including “Wharf Landing”, exclusively reserved for the Federal Governments in item 36 of the Exclusive Legislative List, Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
The Federal Government equally 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, which it estimated at billions of naira.
The plaintiff wants the court to authorize it to deduct the fund from the statutory allocation due to state from the Federal Account.
The suit marked: SC/443/2010, was filed on behalf of the Federal Government by Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), using the name of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
In its brief filed in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff argued that the motive behind the Wharf Landing Fees Law, was 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 Lagos State”.
It argued that the law encroaches on the powers of the Federal Government to collect import duties and customs duties.
Lagos, in a counter-affidavit deposed to by a former Senior Special Assistant to the state Governor on Justice Sector Reform, Olanrewaju Akinsola, stated that it had the power to authorize relevant local government councils to collect the fees in areas outside the jurisdiction of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), pursuant to Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution.
It argued that the law was aimed at stopping the incidence of multiple and illegal taxes in Lagos adding that prior to the enactment of the law, several local government areas engaged in indiscriminate imposition of levies on vehicles carrying goods and equipment in a bid to ameliorate the damage caused to their infrastructure by heavy traffics, especially those coming from the ports.
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