The attention of the Federal Road Safety Corps has been drawn to another recirculated speculation in a session of the social media alleging that a judgment was given in the Federal High Court, Lagos, presided over by Justice James Tsoho, in favour of one Barrister Tope Alabi who challenged the powers of the Corps to impound his vehicle and make him pay fines in the month of September and 2014.
In a statement released then by the Head Media Relations and Strategy, Commander Bisi Kazeem who is now the Corps Public Education Officer, FRSC, the FRSC asserted that the speculations are falsehood, and also maintained that in a similar case in which the same Justice Tsoho presided over between one Bren Williams & Anor versus the FRSC,judgement was in favour of the Corps. In his words, “the judgment given at the time was that the Corps has the statutory powers to issue notice of Offence, arrest, and detain vehicles suspected to have been used to commit traffic offences”.
The Corps Public Education Officer recalled that Justice Tsoho had delivered another judgement similar to the Tope Alabi one in the case of Emmanuel Ofoegbu vs FRSC in which he held that FRSC had no powers to set deadlines for motorists to change over to new number plates and that it would be ultra vires the powers of FRSC to arrest motorists for not using the new number plates under the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2012, a subsidiary legislation to the FRSC Act, 2007. The Kazeem noted that this decision was challenged on Appeal and the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos held in favour of the FRSC.
Commander Kazeem also stated that the Sept 2014 judgement of Justice Tsoho in the Tope Alabi case which was challenged on Appeal is the one currently being recirculated on the social media by Nigerians.
According to the spokesman of FRSC, the latter judgment of the Court of Appeal has put the issues to rest as he states thus, “for the avoidance of doubt, there are reported Court of Appeal decisions to the effect that FRSC has powers to arrest, issue notice of offence to suspected violators and 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”.
Recounting the judgment of Justice Ogbuinya at the Court of Appeal,Makurdi in the case of Bar Moses Ediru vs FRSC, the spokesman of FRSC recalled thus: “the imposition of fines for traffic offences is essential in our fragile society. It helps to prune the number of drivers who commit these offences with impunity.
He recalled further that in another Court of Appeal, Ilorin decision in the case of FRSC vs Okebu Gideon Esq, the Court of Appeal in March 2015. held that the Notice of offence issued to the respondent by FRSC only qualifies as a notice to the suspect and does not in any way amount to hearing by the FRSC as to constitute a usurpation of court of powers.
Kazeem therefore notifies the general public that there is a plethora of decided cases where the statutory powers conferred on the FRSC by her enabling laws have been held to be valid and that the Federal Road Safety Commission (Establishment) Act, 2007 as well as the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 are laws validly made pursuant to the 1999 constitution.
He concluded that all forms of indisciplined and dangerous road use by all cadres of road users must be discouraged, and assured that safety of lives and property on Nigerian roads will be guaranteed to the benefit of all.