By Henry Ojelu
A legal practitioner, Mr Iwowo Anthony has dragged the Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State before an Ikeja High Court for impounding one of his cars over an alleged traffic offence by his mechanic.
In the fundamental human rights enforcement suit brought pursuant to Sections 34, 36, 41(1) & 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended, Iwowo Anthony claimed that his unregistered Tokunbo Sienna Vehicle which was been driven by his mechanic on April 9, 2021 was impounded by taskforce officials of the local government who claimed his mechanic had contravened a traffic offence by driving without a driver’s license and obstruction.
Iwowo Anthony claimed that despite his appeal through phone call to the taskforce officials to either charge the mechanic to court if they believe an offence had been committed or release his car since they do not have the legal right to impound any car for traffic offence, the official still went ahead to force the car into their office and deflated the tires.
Left with no other option, Mr. Iwowo Anthony stated that he was compelled to pay a fine of N25,000 for the release of his car but was only issued an official receipt of N10,000 and when he demanded for explanation on the reduced amount indicated on the receipt issued by the officials of the respondents, it was said that the remainder was for gate pass among others.
Joined in the suit as co-respondent is the executive chairman of Oshodi/Isolo local government.
Mr Iwowo Anthony is seeking amongst other things, a declaration that the respondents lack the constitutional power to impound vehicles and to inflict traffic related penalties on road users, motorists and car owners.
He is also seeking a declaration that arresting, impounding, harassing, threatening, continuous detention and extorting money from road users/motorists/owners like the Applicant by the Respondents is ultra vires their powers outlined under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore illegal.
The other relief he is seeking includes : ” A declaration that the impounding of the Applicant’s vehicle from the 9th of April, 2021 to 12th April, 2021 by the Respondents’ officials constitute a grave violation of the Applicant’s fundamental rights to Freedom of Movement, Right to Fair hearing, Right to own property and Compulsory acquisition of property.(Sections 34, 36, 41(1) and 44 of the 1999 Constitution).
“An order directing the Respondents to refund to the Applicant the sum of N25,000.00 extorted from him under the guise that his Mechanic committed a traffic offence without affording him the opportunity of being heard and without taken him before a Court of law.
“A perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents, its officers, agents, privies, legal representatives or howsoever called or described from further harassing, threatening or arresting the Applicant, other motorists or road users for traffic offences, imposing fines and impounding vehicles.
“An order of Mandatory Injunction compelling the Respondents to jointly and severally pay the Applicant the sum of N10,000,000.00 as exemplary/ aggravated damages for the wanton and grave violation of his revered fundamental rights to Fair hearing, Freedom of movement, right to own property and Compulsory acquisition of property following the illegal arrest, harassment, extortion and impounding of the Vehicle of the Applicant.
“An order of Mandatory Injunction compelling the Respondents to jointly and severally pay the Applicant the sum of N5, 000,000.00 as general damages for the unimaginable hardships, mental stress, embarrassment, victimization and psychological trauma owing to the unlawful and illegal actions of the Respondents’ officials to the Applicant in the circumstances of this suit from the 9th of April, 2021 to 12th of April, 2021.”
The matter which is before Hon. Justice D.T Olatokun of Ikeja High Court has been slated for Monday September 20, 2021.