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Private vehicle does not require roadworthiness certificate – Court of Appeal

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IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

IN ASABA JUDICIAL DIVISION

ON FRIDAY 12TH MARCH 2021

BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS

MOHAMMED A. DANJUMA, JCA

JOSEPH EYO EKANEM, JCA

ABIMBOLA O. OBASEKI-ADEJUMO, JCA

 

BETWEEN

THE GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE OF NIGERIA & 2 Ors

And

OLUKUNLE OGHENEOVO EDUN, ESQ

(Lead Judgment delivered by Honourable Justice Joseph Eyo Ekanem, JCA)

 

Facts of the case:
The Respondent, a Legal Practitioner based in Warri, while driving his vehicle along Afisere Road, Ughelli, Delta State, was intercepted by Officers of the 3rd Appellant, through a road block; and was asked to produce his Certificate of Road Worthiness.

The Respondent maintained that he had none and that, as a private car owner, whose vehicle was not used for mercantile or commercial purpose, he was not required to apply for roadworthiness.

This led to serious traffic which prompted the 2nd Appellant to release the Respondent. Upon inspection of his documents, the Respondent discovered that he was actually issued a Certificate of Road Worthiness by Officers of the Appellant.

He therefore initiated an action by way of Originating Summons at the High Court of Delta State, seeking the interpretation of whether a Certificate of Road Worthiness was needed for private owned vehicles.

The trial court found in favour of the Respondent.

The Appellant, aggrieved, lodged an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Issues for determination:
1.Whether the suit of the Respondent filed against the Appellants on 21 November 2014 is not statute-barred, in view of the provisions of Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Law, Cap. P.23, Vol. IV, Laws of Delta State of Nigeria, 2006.

2.Whether the 3rd Appellant “Senior Vehicle Inspection Officer (Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State), is a juristic person that can be sued.

3.Whether by virtue of the provisions of all relevant laws relating to Road Traffic, the Certificate of Road Worthiness has no application to private motor vehicles.

Counsel’s Argument
On issue 1 Appellants’ counsel submitted that the suit of the Appellant is statute-barred.

He referred to Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Laws of the Delta State and submitted that the Appellants are Public officers within the intendment of the provision.

He contended that the cause of action arose on 5 August 2014, while the suit was filed on 21 November 2014, which is over the 3 month period prescribed by the Public Officers Protection Law.

He placed reliance on Ibrahim v. Judicial Service Commission, Kaduna State (1998) 64 LRCN 5044, among other cases.

Respondent submitted that the Public Officers Protection Law is not an all-embracing bar against actions brought against public officers, but admits exceptions, which he set out in his Brief of Argument.

He further submitted that the act of the Appellants was ultra vires, and had no semblance or colour of authority, and so cannot be protected under the law.

He referred to Egbe v. Alhaji (1990) 21 NSCC (pt. 1) 306, among other cases.

The Respondent argued further that the illegal retention of the fee for the Road Worthiness Certificate means that there is a continuous wrong or injury to the Respondent.

This, he said, takes the case outside the application of the law.

Judgment of the court and the reason

Their Lordships held that the purpose of the Public Officers Protection Law, is to protect public officers from civil liability for any wrongdoing that occasions damages to any citizen if the action is not instituted within 3 months after the act, default or neglect complained of.

The law is designed to protect only the officer who acts in good faith and does not apply to acts done in abuse of office and without semblance of legal justification.

Their lordships held that there is however one well-established exception to the applicability of the Public Officers Protection Law, namely that it does not apply to acts of a public officer which are outside the scope of the authority or which is in abuse of his office or without semblance of legal justification.

Their Lordships relied on Nwankere v. Adewunmi(1966) 1 All NLR 129.

On whether the 3rd Appellant “Senior Vehicle Inspection Officer (Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State), is a juristic person that can be sued.

Their Lordships held that the 3rd Appellant, “Senior Vehicle Inspection Officer (Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State)”, is not a natural person.

Their Lordships held that there is no express provision of the Road Traffic Law of Delta State or any other law which confers on him the right to sue or be sued eo nominee.

The Senior Vehicle Inspection Officer is only an administrative head of his zone and not the overall body, to wit: the Vehicle Inspection Unit.

The right to sue or be sued does not arise from the mere fact that a statute recognizes the existence of a body or office for the performance of a function.

The right must be donated by statute expressly or impliedly.

Their Lordships placed reliance on Erokoro v. Government of Cross River State (1991) 4 NWLR (pt. 185) 322.

His Lordship Joseph Eyo Ekanem, JCA held that, ‘‘The position of a Senior Vehicle Inspection Officer is akin to the position of a Divisional Police Officer who is the administrative head of a Police Division.

In the case of African Ivory Insurance v. Commissioner for Insurance (1998) 1 NWLR (pt. 532) 50, at 57, it was held that while the Commissioner of Police could be sued eo nomine as it is known to the Constitution, the Division Police Officer being an office set up merely for administrative convenience, cannot be sued.

It is, therefore, my opinion that the 3rd Appellant is not a person that can sue or be sued eo nomine’’.

Whether by virtue of the provisions of all relevant laws relating to Road Traffic, the Certificate of Road Worthiness has no application to private motor vehicles.

The Appellants’ counsel argued that Certificate of Road Worthiness has application to private vehicles.

He referred to the learned trial Judge’s interpretation of Section 48(1), (4) and (5) of the Law and submitted that it cannot be the correct intendment of the lawmakers.

This he said is because the law defines “Motor Vehicle” to mean mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads. He also referred to Section 3(2) of the Road Traffic Law.

He contended that if the intention of the lawmakers was that private vehicles be exempted from carrying the Certificate of Road Worthiness, it would have been expressly so stated.

He stated that this is on account of the fact that Section 48(1) and (2) of the Law, which empowers persons authorized to impound vehicles plying the road without certain particulars includes Road Worthiness Certificate as one of the particulars meant to be carried by vehicles plying the road.

The Respondent submitted that a perusal of the Law and its Regulations shows that there is no provision therein that empowers the Appellants to issue Certificate of Road Worthiness in respect of vehicles used for non-commercial purposes.

Rather, the only section that authorizes the Appellants to examine vehicles is Regulation 58 of the Regulations, which relates only to examination of commercial vehicles and the issuance of certificate therefor after such examination.

He referred to Section 2 of the Law (the interpretation Section) and submitted that his vehicle does not fall within the definition of a commercial vehicle.

He also referred to Regulation 2 of the Regulation and Section 43 of the Law, which empowers the State Execution Council to make regulations on various matters relating to road traffic and Regulation 5 of the Regulation made pursuant thereto, which he said relates to the examination of commercial vehicles only.

He argued that there is no similar provision in respect of vehicles used for private purposes.

Their Lordships held that Paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5) of Regulation 5 of the Road Traffic Regulations (RTR) made detailed and comprehensive provisions for the factors or matters that must be present for the registration of categories of vehicles as follows:

(1)Paragraph (2) is for registration of commercial and passenger carrying vehicles, to wit: categories (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) and (viii) of the paragraph (1).

(2)Paragraph 3 is for registration of trailers (that is to say category (iii) of paragraph (1).

(3)Paragraph 4 is for registration of agricultural machine, that is to say category (ix) of paragraph (1).

(4)Paragraph 5 is for registration of tractor, that is to say category (x) of paragraph 1..

The requirements include the production of a Certificate of Road Worthiness issued under Regulation 58 at the time of the application for registration.

Regulation 58(1) and (2) of the RTR states:

(1) Every commercial vehicle, trailer, taxi, stage carriage, omnibus, shall before being registered or licensed and every 6 month thereafter, be examined by a Vehicle Inspection Officer.

(2) Examination Certificate – where at such examination a vehicle is found to be roadworthy, the Vehicle Inspection Officer shall issue a certificate to that effect as in Form M. L. 9 in the Sixth Schedule, which shall remain valid for 6 months. Such certificate shall be carried in the registration book and produced when required by Licensing Authority, a Vehicle Inspector or a Police Officer.”

Their Lordships held that this requirement applies only to vehicles that come under paragraphs (2) and (3) only, that is, commercial and passenger carrying vehicles and trailers.

Their Lordships held that it is, therefore, clear from the above that the provisions of Regulation 5 is loudly silent in respect of private motor vehicles.

I agree with the learned trial Judge. The provisions for particulars of motor vehicles are to be found in the RTR which as I have already demonstrated do not require a private motor vehicle to have a Certificate of Road Worthiness.

It follows therefore that the words “any of the particulars…” refer to the particulars as are required in respect of each category of motor vehicle as set out in Regulation 58 of RTR.

Their Lordships held that from the foregoing it can be drawn that a private motor vehicle is a motor vehicle belonging to a particular person, or which is for the use of a particular person or group, and for the carrying of their personal effects and not for public use or for hire or reward.

His Lordship Joseph Eyo Ekanem, JCA held that

‘‘Before drawing the curtain on this judgment, I need to remind public bodies and public officers that a public body or public officer vested with statutory power must take care not to exceed or abuse its or his power.

“It or he must keep within the limits of the authority committed to it. This is to prevent arbitrariness and the rule of man rather than the rule of law. See Wilson v. Attorney-General of Bendel State (1985) 1 NWLR (pt. 4) 572, at 591.

“The Vehicle Inspection Officers went beyond the powers vested in them by the law and the Road Traffic Regulations, by violently stopping the private motor vehicle of the Respondent on a public highway, using menacing tactics and dangerous implements to demand for Certificate of Road Worthiness which the said vehicle is not required to have.

“Such conduct sends a wrong signal to the citizens who may adopt such strong-arm tactics as a means of settling disputes’’.

The Appeal was dismissed.

Representation
O. Monye, Esq. (Director, Civil Litigation, Ministry of Justice, Delta State, (with him, G. I. Ugbechie, Esq – Senior State Counsel) – for the Appellants.

Respondent in person.

Reported in (2021) Modern Weekly Law Report (MWLR) pt 11 P. 331-385 – Modern Weekly Law Report (MWLR) is a publication of Doyen Law Publishers Limited)

 

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Keyamo inaugurates, Anosike, others as members of National Executive Safety Council (NESC)

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The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation

The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation sector stakeholders, were on Tuesday, 23rd April, 2024, in compliance with ICAO annex 19, inaugurated as members of the National Executive Safety Council (NESC), by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo.

Performing the inauguration, the Minister informed the members of their terms of reference. According to the Minister, the National Executive Safety Council (NESC) shall meet once every quarter or as emergencies require and its activities shall ensure the SSP remains relevant and appropriate to Nigeria.

The Terms of Reference of the NESC are; Endorse the priorities and ensure that appropriate resources are allocated to drive the desired improvements in safety performance, based on risk assessment, and give strategic direction to the Safety Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC). Ensure the development, periodic review and decision and policy making pertaining to SP activities, such as safety policy, safety indicators, enforcement policy, safety data protection and sharing, SMS regulatory requirements, and internal SSP review and findings, are carried out in an integrated and coordinated manner.

Monitor safety performance against the Nigeria’s safety policies and objectives. Assess and accept the picture of the aggregate risk within the aviation industry. Identify new and emerging strategic safety risks. Direct and monitor the effectiveness of the SIAC.

Ensure the effectiveness of the safety oversight of regulated organisations and personnel. Review and sign off major policies, rules and interpretation changes. Handle escalated issues identified by the SIAC. Approve Terms of Reference as recommended by the SIAC for projects, new entities and other safety activities as determined by the SIAC. Ensure the effectiveness of the organisation’s safety management processes.

The NESC comprises key aviation sector stakeholders, including the Director of Air Safety Administration, NSIB Director General, and heads of FAAN, NAMA, NiMET, NCAT, NCAA, representative of Nigeria Air Force (NAF), and technical advisers. The SSP Coordinator will serve as the National Executive Safety Committee Secretary.

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Record-breaker Tunde Onakoya returns to heroic welcome

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Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya is leveraging his skills to raise $1 million for Chess in Slums Africa (CISA), an initiative he

Chess-in-Slums Founder, Tunde Onakoya, was on Wednesday warmly welcomed back to Nigeria after breaking the record for the longest-ever chess marathon with a time of 60 hours.

He was greeted with a heartwarming reception, singing and dancing at the airport.

Onakoya broke the record of Norwegian players, Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, who played for 56-hour, 9-minute in 2018.

The Nigerian Chess Master on April 17 began his attempt to set a 58-hour chess marathon record at Times Square in New York, United States.

The new record holder said he attempted to raise funds and awareness for providing educational opportunities to underprivileged children across Africa.

 

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Buhari’s minister, Sirika to be arraigned for alleged N8 billion fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money laundering, contract fraud in the ministry and Nigeria Air debacle.

The EFCC Spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, disclosed this on Wednesday in a phone conversation with Nairametrics.

When asked if the anti-graft plans prosecuting the former minister, he responded in the affirmative.

“He (Sirika) is going to be charged to court, but it may not be able to be either now or…but definitely, he is going to be sued. He may be arraigned very very soon. That is the information I’ve got,” he said.

Sirika served under former president Muhammadu Buhari as Minister of Aviation.

Another source familiar with developments within the commission but chose not to be named also told Nairametrics that the anti-graft agency’s ongoing probe would lead to prosecution.

“The EFCC is planning to prosecute him, but I don’t know the details except that he was arrested,” the source said.
Several media outlets claim the ex-minister is being interrogated over alleged contract scam under his purview and knowledge.

A reliable source said the arrest is also linked to the botched Nigeria Air. Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, had cancelled the Nigeria Air deal on August 31, 2023. He had revealed on January 31, 2024, that “the whole composition and totality of the deal is merely Ethiopian Air flying the Nigerian flag.” He also admitted that the EFCC was investigating the whole deal.

Backstory
Three months ago, the EFCC said its operatives arrested Abubakar Ahmad Sirika, the brother of Hadi Sirika, over an alleged contract fraud in the aviation ministry.

Abubakar was picked up by the anti-graft agency on Sunday, February 4, following an investigation in the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

During his tenure as minister, Sirika faced allegations including conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering totaling N8,069,176,864.

The commission had revealed that the funds in dispute related to four aviation contracts awarded by the former minister to a company called Engirios Nigeria Limited, which is owned by his younger brother.

The EFCC is empowered by law to track financial crimes.

Every accused person remains innocent until found guilty by a competent court.

Sirika served as Aviation Minister from 22 August 2019 to 29 May 2023.

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Tinubu approves 20% palliative for traditional, religious institutions

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Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food

Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through religious and traditional institutions.

Mr Shettima made this known while delivering the keynote address at a High-Level Dialogue of Faith Leaders on Nutrition in Nigeria, held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

“The Imam of Bayero University (BUK) mentioned about the exclusion of the traditional and religious leaders in the distribution of palliatives.

”The President has approved that 20 per cent of the palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through our religious organisations and the traditional institutions.

“The Tsangaya schools, the mission schools will be specially targeted for such intervention,” Mr Shettima said.

The Vice-President said that government was working out logistics through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure smooth implementation of the intervention programme.

“This intervention will be anchored in the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu, and he is going to anchor the programme.

“We are going to provide the overall supervision towards the implementation of the programme.

“Also 20 per cent of the funds for the School Feeding Programme is going to be channeled through the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning to the religious bodies.”

Mr Shettima stated that government had already commenced engagement and working out modalities for the intervention to ensure a very transparent disbursement, taken into cognisance of all tendencies in our system.

He added that the intervention would include Tsangaya and Mission schools.

NAN

 

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 Chinese supermarket where Nigerians are not allowed to shop sealed

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has sealed the Abuja-based Chinese supermarket located within the China General

On Monday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) sealed a Chinese supermarket located within the China General Chamber of Commerce in Abuja, following allegations of discriminatory practices against Nigerians.

The FCCPC officials interrogated Nigerian workers at the supermarket before sealing up the premises.

According to facilities workers at the store, the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled the premises with her family on Monday at 8:26 am, as captured on Closed-Circuit Television camera footage.

The workers, who are mostly Nigerians, disclosed this information to the FCCPC officials when they stormed the supermarket. As a result, the commission shut down the supermarket in question.

According to The PUNCH, the supermarket had implemented a controversial policy restricting entry solely to Chinese nationals, excluding Nigerians from patronising the establishment.

This policy sparked widespread condemnation across various social media platforms, as Nigerians voiced their concerns over the discriminatory treatment.

But visiting the premises on Monday, the commission officials led by the Director for Surveillance and Investigation, Boladale Adeyinka, said the mission of the commission is in response to the viral video when Nigerians were allegedly being discriminated against and denied access to a supermarket located in Abuja.

Speaking at the end of the enforcement exercise, Adeyinka affirmed that the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled on Monday at 8:26 am with her family as confirmed on the Closed-Circuit Television camera.

She said, “The essence of the surveillance and investigation that we conducted today is to verify the allegations and the content of that viral video.

“On arrival, we noticed that the supermarket which is right behind me, was sealed and padlocked externally. Inquiries have shown that yes, as this morning this supermarket was open and people were here.

“CCTV footage also shows that in the morning, two vehicles departed from these very premises allegedly containing the owner of the supermarket, whom we have been able to identify by name and we have her contact details.”

She further directed that the owner appear before the commission tribunal or the compound will remain sealed.

“Now the summons of course since she’s not around and the place is locked, is to serve notice on her to appear before the federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission by Wednesday

“There are other regulatory tools to be deployed, if she fails to attend to this summon. The summons means that on entering into these premises they must see the summon because that is how they gain access to it”, she said.

She added that if the Chinese owner fails to attend to the summon which is a lawful inquiry, the mandate of the commission under its powers will seal the premises until she comes to the commission, meaning that the place will remain locked until she appears before the commission.

The FCCPC officials subsequently sealed the supermarket.

 

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‘We have found him’- Kenyan police arrest Binance executive who escaped from Nigeria

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The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves

The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves to extradite him to Nigeria within the week.

Government sources familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter confirmed the development to our correspondent on Sunday night.

One of the sources said, “Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, has been arrested by the Kenya Police Service, and he would be extradited to Nigeria this week by INTERPOL.”

Another source noted, “As we had said before that Anjarwalla would be extradited, he has been arrested in Kenya, and he’ll be extradited to Nigeria this week.”

The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the Federal Government had traced Anjarwalla to Kenya, following his escape from lawful custody in Nigeria.

Following the development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the International Criminal Police, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Kenyan Police Service have deepened talks to quicken Anjarwalla’s extradition.

In the earlier report, Saturday PUNCH reported that Anjarwalla, whose cover has now been blown, went into hiding immediately after he landed in Kenya.

“We have found him. We know where he is; he is in Kenya, and we’re working with the authorities to bring him back to Nigeria.

“All hands are on the deck, the government and all the security agencies are working hard in conjunction with the Kenyan authorities and INTERPOL, to ensure his return to Nigeria to face the charges brought against him,” the report had quoted a source as saying.

Meanwhile, the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, had in the March edition of its bulletin titled, “EFCC Alert,” onfirmed that the commission was working in conjunction with the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya to extradite Anjarwalla.

Olukoyed said, “The takeover of the prosecution of Binance chiefs by the commission is no less a strong message in the direction of EFCC’s resolve to hedge in distortions and disruptions in the country’s forex market.

“Tax evasion, currency speculation, and money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000 and are at the foundation of the Commission’s five counts against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the company’s chief executives.

“While Gambaryan is currently in the Commission’s net, the process of extraditing the fleeing Anjarwalla is revving in full swing. Involved in partnership with the EFCC to nick Anjarwalla in flight are the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya as the clock winds down to his arraignment in absentia alongside the company and Gambaryan.”

 

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