The Federal High Court in Lagos has ruled that the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) lacks the powers to impose fines on erring motorists.
Justice James Tsoho held that FRSC cannot turn itself into a court of law by punishing those who commit traffic offences. The court gave this judgment in a suit filed by one lawyer, Mr Tope Alabi.
The lawyer had asked the court to declare that only a court of competent jurisdiction can pronounce a person guilty under Section 10 sub section (4) and 28 subsection (2) of the FRSC (Establishment Act) 2007 and Regulation 143 of the Nigerian Roads Traffic Regulation, 2011.
The judge declared the sections null and void for being inconsistent with Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution which vests judicial powers in the courts.
The judge also awarded N1 million as damages to the lawyer because FRSC confiscated his vehicle and driver’s license.
“It is my conviction that the plaintiff is entitled to remedy on this account,” the judge said.
Justice Tsoho held that while FRSC is statutorily empowered to arrest and fine traffic offenders, a closer look at the definition of the word “fine” means “a pecuniary criminal punishment or civil penalty payable to the public treasury.
“In the instance case, however, the involvement of the element of arrest takes the imposition of fine by the second defendant (FRSC) to the realm of criminal punishment.
“It is noteworthy that a fine, when viewed from that perspective, is a component of sentence.
“From these definitions, it is obvious that the act of sentencing is a judicial action or exercise. Imposition of fine connotes conviction for an alleged offence. This presupposes a trial and conviction of the person fined, especially having regard to the definition of sentencing.
“It is, thus, very clear that the FRSC, not being a court of law, can not impose fine, especially that it has no powers to conduct trial.
“Hence, the exercise of the statutory powers given to the second defendant under the Act as pertaining to imposition of fine is clearly a usurpation of judicial powers exclusively vested in the courts,” the judge held.
Justice Tsoho further held that FRSC’s imposition of fine on the plaintiff because of his cracked windscreen is illegal.
“In the circumstances, I endorse the plaintiff’s submission that by virtue of S.1(3) of the Constitution, the power to impose fine conferred on FRSC by the enabling Act is null and void to the extent of its inconsistency with Section 6 of the Constitution,” the judge held.
The judge said though the National Assembly is empowered to make laws, it cannot go outside the limits set by the 1999 Constitution.
“Basically, an unconstitutional legislation is null and void. That is, therefore, the effect of Section 28 (2) of the FRSC Act 2007 which has purportedly conferred power on the second defendant to impose fine, which is a judicial function. Such power is unconstitutional and unenforceable.
“The FRSC is not constitutionally vested with judicial powers and cannot and should not under any guise purport to function as a court, with competence to impose fine on alleged offenders.
“Much as FRSC seems to have passionate zeal for traffic law enforcement, it cannot be allowed to do so in breach of constitutional provisions.
“It is necessary to add that even in respect of strict liability offences, a court of law should appropriately declare the guilt of an alleged offender and then impose fine.
“FRSC’s function should not go beyond issuance of mere notices of offence,” the judge said.
“The point must be made is that it is a cardinal principle of natural justice that no person be condemned without being heard. It is in observance of this that a person alleged to have committed an offence has to respond to such allegation before a court of law during trial,” he held.
According to the judge, Alabi was issued a Notice of Offence Sheet on April 4 last year, but FRSC did not take him to court for five months before the plaintiff filed his suit on September 9, last year.
“The vital question to ask is how long would the second defendant reasonably take to commence prosecution of a traffic offence? The plaintiff was not under obligation to wait indefinitely for redress due to FRSC’s inaction or laxity,” the judge added.
The judge faulted FRSC’s practice of detaining vehicle whose drivers commit traffic offences.
“I hold the view that confiscation of the vehicle was unnecessary in the first place, though the second defendant (FRSC) spiritedly sought to justify it.
“The seemingly indefinite retention of the plaintiff’s vehicle papers and driver’s licence by officers of the second defendant is totally unreasonable, insensitive and unacceptable.
“The confiscation no doubt deprived the plaintiff of the use of the vehicle for as long as it lasted and also custody of his vehicle papers and driver’s licence.”
The judge granted 11 of the plaintiff’s 14 reliefs, and said he was awarded N1 million rather than the N10 million Alabi prayed for because “FRSC acted under the belief that it was statutorily empowered to so act,” adding that the corps’ innocent mistake “constitute a mitigating factor as to the quantum of damages.”
The National Assembly, FRSC and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) were the defendants in the suit
QUICK SEARCH FOR JOBS IN YOUR FIELD
- Fani-Kayode laments, Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder
- Osas Ighodaro finally removes her hubby's surname 'Ajibade' from her Instagram page (Photos)
- 4 killed as gunmen open fire on mourners in Benue
- Linda Osifo celebrates 6th year of leaving Canada to pursue an acting career in Nigeria
- Waiter shot dead for being âtoo slowâ
DON’T GIVE UP HUNTING FOR JOB
HOT JOBS, RECOMMEND FOR YOU
- NIGERIA SECURITY AND CIVIL DEFENCE CORPS 2019 Massive Recruitment
- National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Recruitment 2019
- Dangote Cement Plc, Recruitment 8th August 2019
- Dangote Refinery Recruitment 2019: Latest Vacancies ( 4 Slots )
- IROKO TV Partners Limited massive recruitment for Outbound Telesales Agents (500 slots )
- Edo State Government 2019 Apprenticeship Programme
- Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recruitment for Observers in Kogi and Bayelsa States, August 2019
- Kaduna State Government 2019 Massive Recruitment for Entry-level & Exp
- Entry Level Bank Tellers recruitment in a Reputable Bank in Lagos, August 2019
- Entry Level Recruitment at UBA Bank, 1st August, 2019
- Ongoing Recruitment For Customer Service Representatives In A Renowned Commercial Bank ( Nationwide )
- Massive Recruitment at Titan Trust Bank Limited, (18 Positions )
- Julius Berger Nigeria Plc : Latest Recruitment
- First Bank of Nigeria 2019 Recruitment for 19th, July 2019 [ 8 Position ]
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT JOBS
JOBS BY CATEGORIES
- Abia State 10
- ABUJA FCT 34
- Adamawa State 15
- Akwa Ibom State 13
- Anambra State 10
- Apprenticeship training 3
- Banking Industry 29
- Bauchi State 8
- Bayelsa State 9
- Benue State 7
- Borno State 15
- Career Tips 7
- Construction Company 8
- Contract Job 6
- Cross River State 12
- Delta State 11
- Ebonyi State 10
- Edo State 14
- Ekiti State 10
- Engineering Jobs 15
- Entry-level Jobs 224
- Enugu State 8
- Featured 12
- FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RECRUITMENT IN NIGERIA 1
- Full time jobs 1019
- Gombe State 9
- Google AdSense know how 6
- Hotel Management/hospitality company 4
- HOW TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE 1
- Imo State 8
- Internship Jobs 36
- Jigawa State 7
- JOB FOR SSCE 64
- Jobs and Recruitment 1503
- Jobs for LEGAL/Law 6
- Jobs in Education 10
- JOBS IN NORTHERN NIGERIA 126
- JOBS IN SOUTH EAST 92
- JOBS IN SOUTH SOUTH 136
- JOBS IN SOUTH WEST 290
- Jos 6
- Kaduna State 13
- Kano State 9
- Katsina State 8
- Kebbi State 7
- Kogi State 9
- Kwara State 10
- Lagos State 140
- Management and Logistics Company 7
- Manager jobs 7
- Manufacturing Industry 8
- Marketing Jobs 2
- Medical /Health 13
- MSC/MS / PHD 52
- Nasarawa State 7
- NCE/OND/HND/BSC 1102
- NGO / Community Services 2
- Nigeria Election 2
- Ogun State 14
- Oil and Gas Company 27
- Ondo State 9
- Osun State 9
- Oyo State 12
- Part Time Jobs 8
- PASS QUESTIONS 1
- Plateau 6
- Rivers State 25
- SCHOLARSHIP Jobs 6
- Sokoto State 7
- Taraba State 8
- Yobe State 8
- Zamfara State 7