Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, has on Monday refuted social media reports that a Federal High Court in Lagos has nullified its power to issue fines, tickets and impound offender vehicles.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Abuja, Mr Bisi Kazeem, the commission’s public relations officer, said FRSC was aware of the post on social media questioning its powers to punish traffic offenders.
“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 Bar Tope Alabi challenged the powers of the FRSC to arrest him and impound his vehicle and make him pay fines for offences alleged.
“The FHC presided over by Justice Tsoho held that FRSC had no such powers. This was in Sept, 2014.
“However, in a case on all fours with the Tope Alabi case earlier in March same year, 2014, same Justice Tsoho in the case of Bren Williams & Anor v FRSC held that FRSC had statutory powers to issue notice of offence, arrest and detain vehicles suspected to have been used to commit traffic offences.”
According to Kazeem, on that same day, Justice Tsoho delivered another judgement similar to the Tope Alabi case in Emmanuel Ofoegbu v FRSC.
He said Justice Tsoho 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.
He said it was in its power 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.
He said the decision was challenged on appeal and the Court of Appeal heldin Oct 2014, that “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 over to new ones.
“The September 2014 judgment of Justice Tsoho which has also been challenged on appeal is the one currently being circulated on the social media by mischief makers.
“Note that 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 in FRSC’s favour in June 2015.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there are reported Court of Appeal decision 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.‎”
He added that “it is the voluntary decision of whoever decides to pay fines instead of challenging the notice of offence in court.”

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