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Citizen Drags Mbah, Enugu Transport Ministry To Court Over Alleged Human  Rights Violations


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A  Nigerian citizen, Barrister  Olu Omotayo  has  instituted a suit at the Enugu State High Court, against  Governor Peter Mbah and the state Ministry of Transport over human rights violation and continuous violation of the Road Traffic Law by agents of the state.

Omotayo, is president of a human rights organisation, Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN, through which he filed the matter.

In the suit  Omotayo Esq V. Governor of Enugu State and Ministry of Transport, suit  No. E/534/2024, the Plaintiff, leading two other lawyers Hammed Wasiu Adeyemi Esq. and Desmond Kakaan Esq. seek the determination of the following questions:  

Whether by virtue of Section 36(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) and Article 7 (1) (d), of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights, (Ratification and Enforcement Act) Cap. A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, can the 2nd defendant arrest, prosecute and impose fine on the Plaintiff for violation of road regulation without hearing from the Plaintiff or allow him to make representation to defend himself. 

Also,  whether the 2nd defendant can lawfully make regulations and impose fine not provided for under the Road Traffic Law in view of the provision of Section 36, Road Traffic Law, Cap 137, Vol. V, Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria,2004, which vested the power in the Commissioner of Police to make Order or by general direction regulate traffic in the state.  

Upon the Determination of the above-questions, the Plaintiff shall seek the following reliefs; A Declaration that the arrest of the Plaintiff on the 13th February 2024, and the towing of his vehicle while he was sitting therein to the premises of the 2nd defendant by officials of 2nd Defendant popularly refer to as MOT officials, without the Plaintiff committing any offence known to the law constitute a flagrant violation of Section 36(8) and 36(12) Of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended) and Articles 7(2), of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights, (Ratification and Enforcement Act) Cap. A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Omotayo, is equally seeking A declaration that the arrest, and detention of the plaintiffs’ vehicle and the subsequent imposition of fine on the Plaintiff by the defendants without bringing him before a court of competent jurisdiction or allow him to make representation to defend himself violates the cardinal Principle of the right to fair hearing and therefore constitute a flagrant violation of Section 36(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) and Article 7 (1) (d), of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights, (Ratification and Enforcement Act) Cap. A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

 A Declaration that by virtue of the Road Traffic Law, Cap 137, Vol. V, Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria,2004, the defendant cannot create penalties for offences unknown to the Road Traffic Law Cap 137, Vol. V, Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria,2004.

  1. N30,500 : 00K (Thirty thousand five hundred Naira) being specific damages for unlawful seizure of the Plaintiff vehicle.

He is therefore seeking a declaration for N100,000 000 : 00K (One hundred million naira) general damages against the Defendants jointly and severally for trespass to person, unlawful arrest and detention and subjecting the Plaintiff to psychological torture and degrading treatment.

Omotayo had in his argument in support of the application submitted that it violates the constitutional right to fair hearing for the defendants and their agents to effect an arrest, prosecute the arrestee and also be the judge who impose penalty on the arrestee.

He further argued that the 2nd defendant cannot lawfully make regulations and impose fine under the Road Traffic Law in view of the provision of Section 36, Road Traffic Law, Cap 137, Vol. V, Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria, 2004, which vested the power in the Commissioner of Police to make Order or by general direction regulate traffic in the state.

The Plaintiff equally insists  that faded traffic lines or marks on the road did not conform with international standards as stipulated by Section 34, Road Traffic Law, Cap 137, Vol. V, Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria, 2004, which states that “Traffic signs shall when necessary conform to any international requirement relating thereto and in default of such requirement shall be of such size, color and type as may be prescribed”.

He submitted that the faded traffic mark at the scene of the arrest of the Plaintiff did not conform to international standard, as the provisions of this law does not connote the use of faded traffic mark on the road purposely for the purpose of setting trap for motorists in order to extort money from them by agents of the defendants.

 

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