LAWYERS have backed the judgment of a Federal High Court, Lagos, which held that Lagos State Government cannot exercise regulatory powers to register and licence cinema exhibition centres in the state under the Cinematograph Law of Lagos State.
Justice Chuka Obiozor in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1502/2016, between Harris and Annis Limited and the Attorney General of Lagos State & three others, faulted the dual registration and annual licensing fees charged by both Federal and Lagos State governments on the plaintiff.
Reacting to the decision, some senior lawyers told The Guardian that the judgment was sound, because once the National Assembly makes a law similar to that of the state, the doctrine of covering the field would suspend that of the state.
Kano-based lawyer, Mr. Abubakar Sani said the decision accurately interpreted the item 16 of the part 11 of the 2nd schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
He said: “The decision is sound. It is based on a correct interpretation of the Constitution, particularly Item 16 of Part II of the 2nd Schedule vis-a-vis the doctrine of covering the field. You can see that the judge had no difficulty in deciding for the Federal Government, despite the reported absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation from the proceedings.”
Similarly, law lecturer, Baze University, Abuja, Dr. Wiseman Ubochioma said the decision is correct to the extent that both federal and state laws addressed the same thing.
“The judgment is based on the doctrine of covering the field. It is correct to the extent that the Federal law and the State law address the same matter. Also, the two laws are targeted against the same party (operators of cinema). Based on these two principles, the decision is valid,” Ubochioma declared.
If the issue of Cinema is in the residual list, he said, it would be a different case. “The case of A.G Lagos v. Eko Hotels Ltd would further assist you in understanding the ratio of the instant case. See particularly the judgment of Inyang Okoro in that case,” he advised.