The Lagos State High Court at Tafawa Balewa Square has adjourned till June 22, 2017 to rule in a suit filed against the Lagos State Government by the Incorporated Trustees’ Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria, otherwise known as Private Sector Participation operators.
Justice Taofiquat Oyekan-Abdullahi fixed the date on Wednesday after hearing the PSP operators’ application for an interlocutory injunction against the defendants as well as the defendants’ counter-affidavit in opposition to the application.
The PSP operators are, through their lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, praying the court to restrain the Lagos State Government and its agents from terminating their right to collect, dispose and manage domestic solid wastes in all areas of Lagos.
They want the court to stop the state from taking over the role of managing solid wastes in the state from them and giving it to a foreign company, Visionscape Group, which is operating in partnership with two Nigerian companies – Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited and ABC Solutions Limited.
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Government; its Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice; the state’s Commissioner for Environment; Visionscape Group, Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited and ABC Solutions Limited.
Arguing his clients’ application for interlocutory injunction in court on Wednesday, Adegboruwa urged Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi to find from the papers filed on behalf of his clients that there was an existing contract and franchise between them and the state, which deserved to be protected, pending the final determination of the main suit.
He urged the court to order the parties to maintain the status quo until the final judgment in the suit in order to ensure that Lagos was kept clean.
He said his clients had continued to follow the judge’s advice to continue to manage wastes in the state even when they were not being paid.
But the counsel for the state, Olubukola Adesina, urged the court to dismiss the claimants’ application for interlocutory injunction and award a cost against them, because, according to her, they did not deserve the reliefs that they were seeking.
Adesina claimed that there was no longer any legal relationship between the PSP operators and the state because ‘the said contract they are relying upon had expired by effluxion of time’.
She added, “The fact that the claimants are cleaning Lagos does not mean that Lagos has employed them to do so. They are doing so of their freewill.
“It is our contention that what the claimants are seeking to do by filing this suit is to foist a relationship on us. And it is our contention that you cannot force a willing agent on an unwilling principal.”
Adesina claimed that Lagos State was sacking the PSP operators to take up foreigners because the state was planning to make the state a mega city and could not afford to have wastes around.
She alleged that the PSP operators had ‘not been carrying out their duties properly and diligently’.
But, in an affidavit filed in support of their application, the Chairman of the Incorporated Trustees of Association of Waste Managers on Nigeria, Olabode Coker, said it would be unjust for the state to take the responsibility of managing wastes in the state from the PSP operators, who had been managing wastes in the state since about 1981, and give it to a foreign company.
“It is improper for the 1st to 3rd defendants to abandon and jettison the claimants for foreigners who have no stake in Nigeria and its citizens and who will end up repatriating their income to their home countries to the disadvantage of the claimants and even the 1st to 3rd defendants,” Coker stated.