Enforcement of the new number plates was deemed illegal and unconstitutional by two federal high courts.
Despite one of its senior officers insisting that it would begin enforcement of the new number plates on August 1, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, has said it has no such plan.
In a statement on Sunday, the Commission said that it had suspended its earlier decision to enforce the new number plates following a court judgment against it.
“Contrary to media reports, the Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to reiterate that it has not fixed a deadline for a nationwide enforcement of the new number vehicle number plate and driver’s license,” the FRSC said in the statement.
“This is coming on the heels of inundated media reports and on-line publications of a proposed plan by the FRSC to commence a nationwide clamp down on vehicle owners/ motorists from 1st August, 2014 for non-compliance with the directive on the new vehicle number plate and driver’s license,” it added.
Last week, Chidi Nkwonta, the Commission’s Lagos State Sector Commander, had insisted that the FRSC had decided to go ahead with the enforcement of the new number plates and drivers’ license following a June 30 judgment by the Anambra State High Court.
Earlier, two federal high court judgments had ruled against the Commission’s plan to enforce the new number plates describing it as illegal and unconstitutional.
“This new judgment made it very clear that as from August 1, FRSC should impound. So, Nigerians must discountenance that first misleading judgment and take this one because we are going to continue enforcement as from Aug. 1, 2014. We never asked anybody to stop (processing licences). Anybody who stopped ab initio stopped at his own peril. Neither did the court ask anybody to stop, that judgment never said anybody should stop,” Mr. Nkwonta said.
“So anybody who did so did it at his own risk and the deadline was supposed to be June 30. Now we have extended it to August 1, because we needed to go on appeal on the other matter. But right now, there is another judgment which says we can go on. So, while we are still waiting for the appeal we are going to go on with this other judgment.”
But in its statement, the FRSC said that it had decided to abide by the decision of the Joint Tax Board, JTB, an umbrella body of State Chairmen of Boards of Internal Revenue, statutorily mandated to determine road taxes including prices of number plates and driver’s license.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Corps wishes to state that it still stands on the earlier resolve to defer enforcement of the new number plate and driver’s license following the suspension of the 30th June 2014 deadline for a change to the enhanced motor vehicle number plate by the Joint Tax Board,” the FRSC said.
“The Board had decided after its 129th meeting held on 23rd and 24th April, 2014, at the Headquarters of Edo State Internal Revenue Services in Benin that:
a. ‘In the light of the Court judgment against the FRSC, the Board decided to suspend the 30th June, 2014 deadline earlier announced for a change to enhanced Motor Vehicle Number Plate and the Driver’s License pending the outcome of the appeal by the FRSC”
b. ‘The States Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Vehicle Inspection Offices (VIOs) have been encouraged to put all necessary logistics in place to improve Motor Vehicle registration and issuance of Driver’s License in order to build a comprehensive database.’
“In the light of the above, the Corps wishes to reiterate an earlier directive to its Commanding Officers to defer enforcement on the deadline, in keeping with the JTB suspension and the court ruling pending the determination of the appeal.
“Motorists are however urged to renew their driver’s and vehicle licenses as they expire in line with extant provisions of the law,” the statement added.