The Federal Road Safety Commission on Monday has refuted social media reports that a Federal High Court in Lagos has nullified its power to issue fines, tickets and impound offender vehicles.
The commission’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Bisi Kazeem, said in Abuja that the FRSC was aware of the post on social media questioning it’s powers to punish traffic offenders.
Kazeem said, “The truth is that there is no recent judgment of the FHC Lagos on the Tope Alabi case as is being circulated.
“What happened was that one Barrister Tope Alabi challenged the powers of the FRSC to arrest him, impound his vehicle and make him pay fines for the offences alleged.
“The FHC presided over by Justice Tsoho held that FRSC had no such powers. This was in Sept, 2014.
“A similar judgment was delivered in the case of Emmanuel Ofoegbu v FRSC by same Justice Tsoho on the same day,” he added.
He said Justice Tsoho held that FRSC had no powers to set deadlines for motorists to change over to new number plates.
Kazeem said the decision was appealed and the Court of Appeal held, inter alia, in Oct, 2014 that;
“The FRSC had statutory powers conferred by its enabling laws made pursuant to the Nigerian Constitution to regulate the use of number plates, design and set deadlines for change to new ones.”
The September 2014 judgment of Justice Tsosho which has also been challenged on appeal is the one currently being circulated in the social media by mischief makers, he added.
The commission’s Public Relations Officer said in another case by the same Tope Alabi before same Justice Tsoho , the Federal High Court, taking a cue from the Court of Appeal’s decision in Emmanuel Ofoegbu’s case, held judgment in favour of the FRSC in June, 2015.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there are reported Court of Appeal decisions to the effect that the FRSC has powers to arrest, issue notice of offence to suspected violators, impound vehicles used to commit traffic offences and electing to pay the prescribed fines instead of challenging the notice of offence in court does not amount to usurpation of court powers.
“It is the voluntary decision of whoever decides to pay fines instead of challenging the notice of offence in court.”
He listed the cases as Ediru vs FRSC (2016) 4 NWLR. Pt 1502, pp209-247 and Esekhaigbe v FRSC, (2015) 12NWLR, Pt 1474 @ 520-537.
He said the Court of Appeal’s decisions no doubt override whatever was decided in the Tope Alabi case, which is also being challenged in the Appeal Court.