A High Court in Edo state has barred the State Government and Edo State Traffic Control and Management Agency (EDSTMA) from impounding, auctioning seized vehicles and demanding payment of penalties for alleged traffic violations without recourse to the court.
Bar. Chukwuka Jonathan Enegide had dragged the state government, EDSTMA, its managing director and three others to court after the agency had impounded his vehicle over alleged traffic violations.
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Enegide sought a declaration of the court granting of absolute power to compulsorily take possession of citizens’ vehicles, impound same indefinitely, impose fines, penalties and auction same without affording them an opportunity of a fair hearing is unconstitutional, illegal and void.
He urged the Court to determine whether the relevant section of EDSTMA law granting absolute power to impound, auction vehicles or demand payment without recourse to the court is consistent with sections 1,3,35,44 and 72 of the 1999 Constitution, among other declarations.
In his ruling, Justice P.A. Akhihiero held that the applicant was able to prove his case and grant the declaration sought.
He said, “The relevant section of the EDSTMA law granting absolute power to impound and auction vehicles or demand payment of penalties without recourse to the courts are inconsistence with sections 1,3,36,44, and 75 of the 1999 Constitution and are declared null and void to the extent of the inconsistency.”
The Court also declared that the respondent’s illegal act of extortion, unlawful forcible seizure and compulsory acquisition of the applicant’s vehicle and its detention was unconstitutional and a violation of his right to fair hearing and property as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The court, however, awarded N5m damages against the defendants and N200,000 as costs to the applicant.