The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has ruled that the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has no authority to impose fine on motorists. The court disclosed this while giving its verdict on the case between a motorist, Jonathan Odutola and LASTMA which began in 2011.
According to Lagos reporters, the court disclosed that LASTMA was operating outside its jurisdiction by imposing fines on motorists. The Appeal Court said this while upholding a previous judgement given by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court on September 16, 2011.
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Justice Abang had ruled in favour of Odutola, stating that LASTMA trampled on the applicant’s fundamental right to human dignity as guaranteed by Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution by assaulting and arresting him, as well as, seizing and detaining his Pick-up van with registration number BE 736 KSF on March 18, 2011.
In the case with suit no FHC/L/CS/653/2011, Justice Abang awarded N500,000 as damages against LASTMA and ordered that it must issue a public apology to Odutola.
LASTMA, however, appealed the decision of Justice Abang, but the Court of Appeal also ruled against the Traffic agency, as Justice Jamilu Yammama Tukur, Justice Biobele Abraham Georgewill and Justice Abimbola Osarugue Obaseki-Adejumo stated that, “By the provisions of section 1 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the constitution is supreme and its provisions are binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria.
“Therefore, if any law is inconsistent with any provisions of the constitution, the constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of that inconsistency be void.”
The court cited Nosdra vs Exxonnmobil (2018) LPELR -44210 (CA), pp 5-9 para E-C.
LASTMA isn’t Judiciary: The Court stated that LASTMA has no judicial authority to enforce or impose fines, explaining that such an action taken by the agency isn’t enshrined in the constitution which the court represents. The court added that exercising such power makes LASTMA a judge, of which the agency isn’t, and the court won’t condone the misrepresentation.
“The appellant (LASTMA) constituted itself into a court with judicial or quasi-judicial powers, when in fact, the law that created it did not donate such jurisdiction to it.
“There is, therefore, a lacuna in that law creating the appellant. In view of the fact that the main crux of the respondent’s grievance bothers on the imposition of fine/penalty on it, I hold that there is no merit in this appeal whatsoever. I find the appeal as lacking in merit as same is hereby dismissed.”