By NBF News

Mr Femi Falana, human rightslawyer and the National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP), has dragged the Federal Road Safety Commission and the Minister of Works to the Federal High Court in Lagos over the deplorable condition of the Lagos-Ibadan-Benin highways.

In Suit No FHC/IK/M34/2010, Falana stated that he was 'entitled to his fundamental right to life; and to the human right of physical development guaranteed by Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and that the 1st respondent was under a legal obligation to repair and maintain the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway but had neglected to repair it for no just cause.

The 2nd respondent was under a legal duty to clear or remove all obstructions from the Lagos-Ibadan and the Lagos- Benin Expressways but had neglected to do so.

'The refusal of the 2nd respondent to remove obstructions of the Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Benin highways has caused several accidents which claimed the lives of many persons. The 1st and 2nd respondents have allowed the Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Customs Service to convert the Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Benin Highways to toll collection centres where money is extorted from motorists,' Falana added.

According to Falana, 'I know as a fact that the Lagos-Benin and Lagos-Ibadan Expressways were constructed over 30 years ago by the Federal Government of Nigeria. At the time the two roads were commissioned there were few vehicles plying them. Up to year 2002 the funds realized from the toll gates from motorists were voted for repairs and maintenance of the roads. In spite of the sharp increase in the number of vehicles plying both highways the Respondents have failed to expand and repair the roads.'

Falana also said 'the Olusegun Obasanjo administration ordered the demolition of the toll gates in 2002 on the ground that the money realized from fuel hike was sufficient to repair and maintain the roads. 'As the funds realized from the incessant fuel hikes were diverted elsewhere by the Federal Government, the roads have since become death traps where hundreds of motorists are killed in accidents.

'From time to time many vehicles which abandoned on both roads pose risk to the lives of road users. On several occasions I have had to take many victims of accidents on both roads to hospitals in Lagos and in Ogun States.

'At the beginning and end of every month the Lagos-Ibadan Expressroad is blocked by cars and lorries belonging to religious bodies and their members. At Ogere on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the way and manner trucks and heavy duty vehicles are permanently parked pose a risk to the lives of road users. Both roads have become so unsafe that motorists are now robbed at night and in broad daylight.

'There were times when I had to turn back to Lagos when both roads were blocked by either armed robbers or police personnel extorting motorists without any challenge. As a result of the status of Lagos as the commercial centre of Nigeria, the Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Benin Expressways are daily plied by thousands of people travelling from Lagos to all parts of Nigeria. In spite of the traffic congestion on the Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Benin Expressways the respondents have not expanded them.'