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A Federal High Court in Abuja has again stopped the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) from imposing new drivers' and vehicles' licences on vehicle owners whose papers are still valid.
The court also declared as unconstitutional the threat by the commission to start arresting car owners who had not obtained the new driver's licence even when their present licence are still valid.
The judgment of the court was sequel to a suit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, John Musa, challenging the threats by the commission to forcibly make every car owner to obtain a new driver’s and vehicle licence even when the present one was still valid.
He also challenged the threat by the commission to start arresting car owners who failed to obtain the new licence as from October 1, 2013.
The plaintiff had joined the commission and its Corp Marshal and Chief Executive, Osita Chidoka, as first and second defendants respectively.
The trial judge, Justice Ademola Adeniyi, in the judgment, dismissed the preliminary objections brought by the defendants on the grounds that they were all misconceptions of the law.
He further held that the commission lacked the power to forcefully ask car owners to renew their papers when the papers are still valid.
The judge also said the commission lacked the power to amend the existing law of the National Assembly or promulgate another one.
Justice Adeniyi however, noted that he was mindful of the Lagos Court judgment on the same subject matter and endorsed the judicial pronouncement of the learned judge.
The court further held that the commission had no power to invalidate a driver’s or vehicle's licence before the expiring date and therefore declared that the pronouncement by the commission to do so as ultra vires, null and void.
The court gave a mandatory order stopping the commission from putting to effect, its threat to start arresting car owners until the expiration of the extant licences.
The court also described the action of the commission as executive recklessness.
Earlier, the court held that the plaintiff had locus to institute the suit and that he was entitled to all the reliefs sought.
A Federal High Court in Lagos had on March 26 declared that the FRSC could not force the new plate number on motorists.
In a judgment delivered by Justice John Tsoho, the court held that the redesigning of the old number plates was not backed by any law.
Tsoho, who delivered judgment in a suit by a lawyer, Emmanuel Ofoegbu, against the FRSC, held that the FRSC had no power to impose the redesigned number plates on vehicle owners, who had not acquired them.
The judge then held that the issue of redesigning new number plates by the respondent was not covered under the provisions of any law in Nigeria.
He further held that the respondent could not force Nigerians to acquire new plate numbers by impounding cars without the backing of any legislation to that effect.
To do so, the judge said amounted to an arbitrary use of power, and was therefore illegal and unconstitutional.