November 4, 2014

Appeal Court okays new number plates

By Innocent Anaba

Lagos—The Court of Appeal, Lagos, has granted the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, the permission to go ahead with the new number plate.

Justice Shagbaor Ikegh, gave the ruling in a judgement last Friday which was released to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.

The plaintiff, Mr Emmanuel Ofoegbu, had filed a suit against the FRSC before a Federal High Court, Lagos.

The plaintiff had challenged the October 1, 2013 deadline set for motorists to change to the number plate and the threat to impound vehicles of defaulters.

“I would allow this appeal in part; for the avoidance of doubt, this appeal only succeeds in part to the effect that regulations 2012 has legal force, and is enforceable from October 1, 2013, the administrative date set by FRSC.

“The part of the decision of the lower court declaring the regulation 2012 unconstitutional is hereby set aside,” Ikegh ruled.

Justice John Tsoho of the lower court had on March 26 described as unconstitutional the threats by FRSC to impound vehicles of defaulters, including the applicant’s vehicle(s) over the redesigned plates.

Tsoho held that although the FRSC had statutory powers and responsibilities, it was overreaching itself by its proposed action since there was no penal law under which same could be executed.

The judge had held that the FRSC could not force upon Nigerians, a hastily conceived policy, without an enabling legal framework.

He said nothing had invalidated the old number plates, describing the plans by the FRSC as dictatorial and an arbitrary use of power contrary to the constitution.

Dissatisfied with the decision of the lower court, the FRSC had approached the appellate court, seeking an order upturning its verdict.


FRSC’s appeal

The FRSC, in its appeal, had raised four issues for determination — whether the trial court was right when it took notice of newspaper publication on the alleged threat to impound vehicles of defaulters.

It also urged the appellate court to decide whether the trial court was right to hold that the National Road Traffic Regulation, NRTR, 2012 was a hastily conceived policy without a legal framework.

The FRSC had also queried the locus standi of the respondent to have initiated the suit at the lower court, and whether the court was right to have granted an injunction in his favour.

By October 31 judgment, three of the issues raised by the FRSC were resolved in favour of the respondent, Ofoegbu.

The court, however, upheld the validity of the NRTR 2012, adding that by the provisions of Section 5 of the FRSC Act 2007, the National Assembly had delegated the authority to the agency to so act.