Justice James Tsoho had ruled that it was unlawful for the FRSC to impose new number plates on Nigerians, where no existing law permitted it. Despite a Federal High Court judgment that the new number plates introduced by the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, is unconstitutional; the agency has insisted that it has statutory powers on the plates. In his landmark judgment on Wednesday, Justice James Tsoho said that it was unlawful for the commission to impose the new number plates on Nigerians, where no existing law permitted it. “The issue of redesigning new number plates by the respondent, is not covered under the provisions of any law in Nigeria,” said James Tsoho, the judge.
“The respondent (FRSC) cannot force Nigerians to acquire new plate numbers by impounding cars, without the backing of any legislation to that effect.
“I hold that the act of the respondent amounts to an arbitrary use of power, and is therefore illegal and unconstitutional. SEE MORE AFTER CUT>>>>>>
“Judgment is therefore entered in favour of the plaintiff, and all the reliefs sought is hereby granted,” the judge added.
Jonas Agwu on Wednesday said, the FRSC held that the court’s ruling merely stated that the FRSC’s statutory powers do not cover setting deadlines for conversion to the newly designed plates. “Contrary to media reports emanating from an earlier Federal High Court verdict sitting in Lagos, the Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to affirm that the court judgement did not vacate its statutory powers to design and produce the new number plate but stated that the Corps lacks statutory authority to fix deadline for the enforcement of the number plate,” said Mr. Agwu, Corps Public Education Officer.
Emmanuel Ofoegbu had filed a suit on 30th September, 2013, through a Human Rights Activist, Ogedi Ogu; challenging the power of the FRSC to impound vehicles of motorists who failed to acquire the new numbers.
Mr. Ofoegbu had sought a declaration that the threat by the FRSC to impound vehicles of motorists, who failed to acquire the new number plates, was invalid and unconstitutional.
Mr. Agwu said that the same judge had given another verdict in a case instituted by Brent Williams Limited against the FRSC, that the Corps has statutory powers to determine the categories of number plates to be used by vehicles and enforce same.
“The court also ruled that by discharging their duties, members of the FRSC were not performing the duties of the Police but acting in line with the provisions of the FRSC Act 2007.
“The case was therefore dismissed in favour of the FRSC with a cost of N150,000.00 against the plaintiff,” Mr. Agwu added.
George Olaniran, the Corps Legal Adviser, Assistant Corps Marshal, said that the Corps will appeal the court’s verdict on the FRSC’s powers to set deadline for a changeover to the new number plate.
According to Mr. Olaniran, the FRSC does not set deadline for new number plate rather it is under the purview of the States through the Joint Tax Board to fix deadline for enforcement of the vehicle number plates.