A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday declared as unconstitutional, the imposition of the new number plates on motorists by the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC.
Justice James Tsoho, delivered the judgment following a suit filed by Emmanuel Ofoegbu, a lawyer, challenging the powers of the FRSC to issue the new number plates and compel all motorists to acquire them.
Ofoegbu had challenged the power of the commission to impound vehicles of motorists who failed to acquire the new number plates after the June 2014 deadline.
The plaintiff had sought a declaration that the threat by the respondents to impound vehicles of motorists, who failed to acquire the new number plates, was invalid and unconstitutional.
In his statement of facts, the plaintiff averred that the old numbers plates were issued under the provisions of the National Road Traffic Regulations, NRTR, 2004.
He averred that the NRTR 2004 is a subsidiary legislation made under the FRSC Act, Laws of the Federation as revised in 2004.
According to the plaintiff, the NRTR 2012, in Regulations 230 (2), provides that the revocation of the 2004 Regulations, shall not affect anything done, or purported to be done pursuant to that Regulation.
Ofoegbu averred that there is no law made in accordance with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which prohibits the use of the old plate numbers, or declares its use as an offence.
He also sought an order of injunction restraining the defendants from impounding vehicles or otherwise arresting or harassing motorists who failed to acquire the new number plate.
While delivering his judgement, Tsoho held that it was unlawful for the respondent to impose the new number plates on motorists where there was no existing law permitting same.
“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 number plates 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 are hereby granted, I so hold,’’ Tsoho ruled.