Daily Trust (Abuja)

24 July 2014

Nigeria: FRSC to Enforce New Drivers' Licence, Number Plate Aug 1

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) on Tuesday said it would begin enforcement of the new drivers' licence and number plate on Aug. 1.

The Lagos State Sector Commander of FRSC, Mr Chidi Nkwonta, told newsmen that the decision followed the new court judgment.

"This new judgment made it very clear that as from Aug. 1, FRSC should impound. So, Nigerians must discountenance that first misleading judgment and take this one because we are going to continue enforcement as from Aug. 1, 2014. We never asked anybody to stop processing licences. Anybody who stopped ab initio, stopped at his own peril. Neither did the court ask anybody to stop; that judgment never said anybody should stop. So anybody who did so did it at his own risk and the deadline was supposed to be June 30. Now, we have extended it to Aug. 1, because we needed to go on appeal on the other matter. But right now, there is another judgment which says we can go on. So, while we are still waiting for the appeal, we are going to go on with this other judgment," he said.

Justice Peter Umeadi of a Federal High Court in Anambra State on June 30, had ruled in a suit filed by Chief Ajefo Ekwo, challenging FRSC's powers to enforce new drivers' licence and number plates.

Umeadi said the respondent's directive to change old drivers' licence and number plates to new was legal, valid, subsisting and in conformity with the FRSC's 2007 Act and the National Road Traffic Regulations of 2012.

Nkwonta maintained that the recent judgment set aside the earlier judgment of the Lagos High Court, which said that the corps had no authority to produce and fix deadline for the documents.

The FRSC commander said the earlier judgment was given in error and that the commission would stand by the new judgment, while appealing against the earlier one.

He said all registration centres and 18 additional work stations in all parts of Lagos were functional and that the network was effective.

He added that the commission has improved the process, just as it is working at weekends to make it easy for applicants.

Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Lagos on March 26, declared that the FRSC had no legal authority to impose new number plates on motorists in the country.

The judge also held that "the ongoing exercise by the FRSC to replace the old number plate with a new one is illegal and unconstitutional because there is no law empowering it to carry out the exercise."

NAN

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