Legal wrangling over Lagos State planning law

12 Oct 2006

A Federal High Court has been asked to declare as unconstitutional, null and void, the Lagos State Infrastructure and Maintenance and Regulatory Agency Law 2004, which authorises any officer of the agency to inspect communications infrastructure, dismantle equipment and prescribe fees to be paid by the operator. The plaintiffs are several operators including MTN Nigeria and Starcomms which argue that the law, intended to be a law of general application to utility providers with regard to urban planning, is in practice interfering with the regulation of telecoms operations, and therefore encroaching on powers conferred on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). They also submit that the charges imposed on telecoms operators under the enactment, up to USD8.1 million a year in some cases, amount to a taxation on a matter exclusively within the remit of the NCC and not the Lagos State Agency, rendering the law unconstitutional. Further hearing of the matter has been adjourned to 6 November 2006.