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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

LASIMRA heads for Appeal Court

The Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) has reiterated its resolve to head to the Appeal Court over its dissatisfaction on a Federal High Court ruling on regulation of telecommunications in the state.

General Manager, LASIMRA, Mr. Joe Igbokwe who confirmed this to Champion Infotel at the weekend, said that there is no doubt if Lagos State was dissatisfied with the Court ruling of February 23, saying that it is high time states stop depending on the Federal Government to develop its territories.

“We’re going and there is no doubt about it. The attorney general is in charge and we are going to the Appeal Court,” he said.

He also dismissed claims in some quarters of the industry that the main force behind the state’s desire to legislate telecom has been the revenue.

According to him, the money is secondary, stressing that what matters to the government of Lagos State is to ensure that its citizens’ benefit optimally from the growing telecommunications industry, which has most of the telcos located in Lagos.

“The state cannot continue to go to Abuja to beg for money,” he declared, emphasising Lagos State through LASIMRA would continue to fight the course to ensure that a minimum standard is established.

Mr. Igbokwe decried the seeming less concern of telecom companies in the country, saying that in other countries they do pay certain homage to the host state.

“If we subject them to a minimum standard, they would pay. They do it in other countries but when they come here, they try to break the law,” he lamented.

He cited an instance that if there is any mishap as result of mast collapse in Lagos State since most of the operators have their key infrastructure within its location, and it involves life and death, would the family concerned go to the federal government or the state for immediate assistance.

“Of course they would go to Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu (Governor of Lagos),” he said, pointing out that those definitely to be affected would be Lagosians, hence there is need to have a fair share of the telecom that is regulated.

He insisted that Lagos is going to file an appeal and it has 60 days to do that since the last ruling.

“Definitely we have to file the appeal and don’t forget we have 60 days to appeal,” he said.

“Also, don’t forget we (state) have taken the federal government to the Supreme Court before and we won and nothing stops us from winning again,” he said.

It would be recalled that penultimate Friday, a judge of the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos, Mr. Ibrahim Auta, had declared LASIMRA law as unconstitutional, null and void, maintaining that telecom matters were under the exclusive legislative list which belongs to the federal government and that no state house of assembly had the right to enact any law on such matters.

“I am in total agreement with the submissions of the counsel to the plaintiffs; the infrastructure law had interfered with the National Assembly’s exclusive control of matters pertaining to telecommunications in Nigeria, and no state government can make any law which is supposed to be made by the National Assembly. The court enters judgment in favour of the plaintiffs,” he held.

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