The Federal High Court, Warri delivered Judgement today in the case of Darlington Ugo Ehirim v. Federal Road Safety Commission Suit No. FHC/W/CS/90/2017.

The Plaintiff in an affidavit in support of his originating summons stated that he was stopped by FRSC officials while driving along Ajamimogha Road, Warri on his way to court. The Plaintiff had challenged the authority of the FRSC officials to be creating a long queu early in the morning while checking vehicle particulars. Plaintiff further stated that the FRSC officials, out of annoyance told him to park, which he obeyed. They seized his vehicle particulars and charged him to court on a purported charge of not wearing seat belt. The charge aagainst the plaintiff was withdrawn upon the intervention of Kunle Edun, the then Vice Chairman of NBA, Warri( now the National Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association).

Mr. Kunle Edun, acting as the Plaintiff’s counsel and Chairman NBA Warri Human Right Committee subsequently filed an action against the FRSC at the Federal High Court, Warri seeking the following issues for resolution:
1) Whether the provisions of the Federal Road Safety Commission Act, 2007 ( particularly section 30 thereof that defines “public road”) and it’s subsidiary legislation; the provisions of section 118 of the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2004 (which defines “Highway”) to the extent that public road and highways are defined to include all roads in States and local governments are constitutional in the face of of the clear provisions of sections 1(3) and item 63 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, regarding the power of the Defendant (a federal agency) to exercise jurisdiction regarding vehicular traffic monitoring and enforcement over Stares and Local Governments roads in Nigeria?

2) Whether by virtue of the clear provisions of sections 1(3) and item 63 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended; the Defendant has the vires, authority and/or power to arrest, detain and/or prosecute the Plaintiff or any person regarding any violation of traffic laws on any road that is not designated as a federal trunk road?

3) Whether there is any provision in the Federal Road Safety Commission Act (Cap F19) LFN 2010 or any subsidiary legislation made thereunder that entitles the officers of the Defendant to mount any form of road blocks (human or otherwise) on public highways in the purported exercise of it’s functions under the said Act?

The Plaintiff claimed the following reliefs:
1) A declaration that by virtue of the clear provisions of section 1(3) and item 63 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the Defendant lacks the vires, authority and/or power to exercise any jurisdiction regarding vehicular traffic, monitoring and enforcement in respect of States and Local Governments roads in Nigeria.

2) A declaration that by virtue of the clear provisions of section 1(3) and item 63 Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the Defendant lacks the vires, authority and/or power to arrest, detain and/or prosecute the Plaintiff or any person regarding the traffic violations on a State or Local Government road in Nigeria.

3) A declaration that the definitions of “Public Road” in the provisions of section 30 of the Federal Road Safety Commission Act, 2007 (Cap F19) LFN 2010 and “Highway” as contained in the provisions of section 118 of the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2004 do not extend to or includes States and Local Government Roads in Nigeria by virtue of the clear provisions of section 1(3) and item 63 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended; and therefore, it is ultra vires the power of the National Assembly to make laws regulating traffic on roads other than federal trunk roads.

4) A declaration that the Defendant’s operations and jurisdiction are restricted only to traffic on federal highways or federal trunk roads by virtue of the clear provisions of section 1(3) and item 63 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

5) A declaration that the stoppage of the Plaintiff’s vehicle Reg. No. KJA 502 and the seizure of his driver’s licence by the Defendant on the 15th day of June, 2017 along the Ajamimogha Road, by Herismor House, Warri (not being a federal trunk road) is unlawful and a violation of Plaintiff’s tight to freedom of movement as guaranteed by the provisions of section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

6) An order of injunction restraining the Defendant by itself and/or through it’s privies, agents, officials, subordinates or under any other guise from further harrasing, arresting, detaining abd/or prosecute the Plaintiff or any motorist in respect of anything done in connection with vehicular traffic and/or the use of States’ it Local Giverment roads.
7) The sum of N10, 000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira)as exemplary and general damages.

The trial court agreed with all the issues raised by Kunle Edun, the Plaintiff’s counsel and accordingly granted all the reliefs sought. The court also awarded cost of N200,000 00 against the Defendant.

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