The court says FRSC could not turn itself into a court of law by punishing motorists.
“It is, thus, very clear that the FRSC, not being a court of law, cannot impose fine, especially as it has no powers to conduct trial.
“Hence, the exercise of the statutory powers given to the defendant under the Act as pertain to imposition of fine is clearly a usurpation of judicial powers exclusively vested in the courts.
“In the circumstances, I endorse the plaintiff’s submission that by virtue of section 1(3) of the constitution, the power to impose fines conferred on FRSC by the enabling act is null and void to the extent of its inconsistency with the constitution.”
Tsoho held that the FRSC resorted to “legislative absurdity” when it imposed a fine of 3,000 on the plaintiff, rather than the N2,000 statutorily prescribed.
“FRSC’s function should not go beyond issuance of mere notices of offence,” he ruled.
“It is a cardinal principle of natural justice that no person can be condemned without being heard.
“It is in observance of this that a person alleged to have committed an offence has to respond to such allegations before a court of law during trial.”
According to the judge, the plaintiff was issued a notice of offence Sheet on April 4, 2013, but FRSC did not take him to court for five months before the plaintiff filed his suit on September 9, 2013.
“The vital question to ask is how long would it take the FRSC to reasonably commence prosecution of a traffic offence?” he asked.
“The plaintiff was not under obligation to wait indefinitely for redress due to FRSC’s inaction or laxity.
“I hold the view that the confiscation of the vehicle was unnecessary in the first place, though the FRSC spiritedly sought to justify it.”
The judge then granted11 of the 14 reliefs sought by the plaintiff, awarding N1million in his favour instead of the N10 million prayed for.