Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on the controversial new number plates and driver’s licence in the last week of last month. The Lagos State sector commander of the corps, Mr Chidi Nkwonta, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday, July 24, 2014 that the organisation would begin to impound vehicles with old number plates from August 1, 2014. As he said, the decision to embark on the exercise was based on a recent judgment delivered by a Federal High Court in Anambra State. Nkwonta’s contention was that the Anambra judgment had set aside the earlier one by a Federal High Court in Lagos. He faulted the earlier judgment and maintained that the FRSC would only accept the second verdict. Three days later, the Corps Public Education Officer, Mr Jonas Agwu, issued a statement in which he countered Nkwonta and stated that the corps had not fixed any date for the enforcement of the new number plates and driver’s licence.
But for the prompt intervention of Agwu, who is the official source of information, another round of controversy would have been raging. The FRSC would have been the target of a barrage of criticisms. It was widely reported that a Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Justice James Tsoho, on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 declared unconstitutional the introduction of new number plates the FRSC had been striving to impose on vehicle owners. The judge said the redesigning of the number plates did not have the backing of the law and proceeded to aver that it would amount to an arbitrary exercise of power to impound vehicles without the redesigned number plates. In spite of the fact that the judgment was seen as a great relief and widely applauded, the FRSC took the case to a higher court where it is still pending. What then is the rationale behind the idea of taking the same case to another court — of concurrent jurisdiction — which lacks the power to set aside the Lagos judgment. SEE MORE ON PAGE2