The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) on Monday insisted that it had the statutory powers to arrest traffic offenders and impound vehicles used to commit traffic offences.
The Public Relations Officer of the commission, Mr Bisi Kazeem, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Kazzem was speaking against the backdrop of social media reports that a Federal High Court in Lagos recently nullified its power to impose fine on traffic offenders and impound their vehicles.
He said FRSC was aware of the post on social media and the questions it had raised regarding its powers.
“The truth is that there is no recent judgment of the Federal High Court Lagos on the Tope Alabi case as is being circulated.
“What happened was that one Barrister Tope Alabi challenged the powers of the FRSC to arrest him and impound his vehicle and make him pay fines for offences alleged.
“The Federal High Court 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.
“This decision was challenged on appeal and the Court of Appeal held, inter alia, in 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 Sept. 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 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.
“It is the voluntary decision of whoever decides to pay fines instead of challenging the notice of offence in court.’’