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Number plate court victory savoured

27 March 2014, 11:41

Lagos - Nigerians have expressed excitement over Wednesday’s ruling by the Federal High Court in Lagos declaring the issuance of new car number plates illegal.

Delivering judgment is a suit filed by one Barrister Emmanuel Ogoegbu, High Court Judge Justice James Tsoho insisted that it was unconstitutional for the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to force car owners to acquire the new number plate.

“The issue of redesigning new number plates by the respondent, is not covered under the provisions of any law in Nigeria. The respondent 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. Judgment is therefore entered in favour of the plaintiff, and all the reliefs sought is hereby granted, I so hold,” Tsoho stated.

Reacting to the judgment, some car owners who spoke to our correspondent in Lagos said they were overjoyed with the development.

Businessman Emeka Anajemba said he had applied for the number after paying N30 000 but would now insist on a refund since the court had declared the exercise illegal.

“I just managed to apply for the new number plate just last week after paying N30 000. But with what the court has just said, I will return back to the FRSC office to ask for my refund. Really this judgment is a good one because many of us have always known that this exercise was just another attempt by FRSC to make money. Up till now, they have not been able to explain to us why we really need a new number place,” he said.

A lawyer, Ben Okadi, said the development truly reflected that the judiciary was still intact.

He described the new number plate by the FRSC as exploitative and another attempt to fleece vehicle owners of their money.

“I must say that that judgment by Justice Tsoho was a sound one and a reflection that the judiciary still remain the last hope of the common man. With this judgment, I expect the FRSC to now think of how to refund those who have paid their money. This must be done else people will go to court again to seek redress. Ones the court declares an action illegal, it automatically means that any action carried out in that regards is illegal. In this case, money collected by FRSC is illegal and must be refunded,” Okadi said.

Okadi said he would personally file an action in court if the FRSC refused to refund the money he paid to get his car new number plate.

Another resident, Kazeem Momoh ,also applauded the court judgment saying that it was a big relief to many like him who had been struggling to raise money to pay for the new number plate.

“I have not gotten the new number plate for my car because I have not been able to raise money for it. With what I have heard about the court judgment, I am really happy since I will now continue to use my old car number,” he said.

The FRSC had threatened to impound vehicles without the new number by June this year when the deadline for obtaining the number expires.

– CAJ News

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