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    Lawyer drags Soludo’s aides, Konti, Anambra State traffic agency to court for impounding his car

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    By Emeka Okeke Awka

    A legal luminary, Mr Ndubuisi Dandy Agu, has dragged the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency (ATMA), its newly appointed Managing Director,
    Mr Emeka Okonkwo ,aka Konti and one Mr Emmanuel Iruogu before the Anambra State High Court sitting in Awka, for collecting a sum of N50,000 from him following alleged traffic offences.

    Agu, in a suit No: A/324/2022 dated 30th September 2022, filed by his lawyer, S. T. Omeh, alleged that some ATMA officials impounded his Toyota Camry Car with Registration Number: AAA337CA, on Saturday September 17th, 2022 while he was driving out of a petrol station at Aroma junction, accusing him of commiting “route violation” and “route obstruction” offence.

    The plaintiff sought answers to seven questions, including what he termed the legal effect of the construction, interpretation and application of the provisions of Section 1(1)(3), 6(6), 36(1) (2) (a) & (b), (3) (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Sections 10 and 11 of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law, 2011 (as amended) or other regulations the defendants relied on to impound his vehicle and imposed a fine of N50,000 on him without a trial.

    Parts of the originating summon read, “Whether upon a proper construction, interpretation and application of Sections 1(1) (3), 4(1) (2) (3) (4), Part 1 and 2 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Sections 20, 82, 85 and 86 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act, Cap. S6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Section 28 (1) and (3) of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law, 2011 (as amended), the Anambra House of Assembly can competently make a Law which can derogate from and limit the application of the provisions of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act, Cap. S6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, regarding the enforcement of judgments that may be obtained against the 1st defendant in civil proceedings instituted against the 1st defendant.

    “Whether upon a proper construction, interpretation and application of Section 1 (1) (3), 6(6), 36 (6) (1) (2) (a) (b), (3) (4), 34 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Public of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Sections 10 and 11 of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended), the defendants have the vires or powers to impound the plaintiff’s vehicle for an alleged traffic offence of “Road Obstruction’ and “Route Violation” and insist on extracting an undertaking from the plaintiff before releasing the plaintiff’s vehicle to him even after the plaintiff had paid the sum of N50,000 only as fine or penalty imposed on the plaintiff by the defendants for a non-existent traffic offence of ‘Road obstruction’ and “Route violation.”

    The plaintiff, who backed his originating summon with exhibits such as pictures of payments he made and undertaken he signed after paying the fines before his car was released to him, added the names of some colleagues that witnessed the incident, even as he lamented that the act forced him and his colleague not to attend a meeting they previously scheduled with a client.

    He sought 13 reliefs from the court, which included a declaration that the provisions of Sections 1(1) (3), 6(6), 36(1) (2) (a) & (b), (3) (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Sections 10 and 11 of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended), did not allow the defendants to impose any fine on the plaintiff as punishment or penalty for alleged traffic offences without affording him a fair hearing before a court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction.

    Others were a declaration that no regulation or law empowered defendants to legally try, convict, sentence and impose any fine or penalty on the plaintiff for alleged traffic offences; and a declaration that no law empowered the defendants to designate any expressway, road, street and lanes in the State as “One way” and “thereby create a fictitious offence called “One way driving” or ‘route violation’ or “road obstruction.” an opportunity to be heard.

    “An order of the Honourable Court declaring as null and void and of no effect the provisions of Sections 10(c) and 11(a), (b), (c) and (d) of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended) for being inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

    “An order of the Honourable Court nullifying and setting aside that part of the provisions of Section 28(1) of the Anambra State Road Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended) which provides that no writ of execution or attachment or other processes in the nature of any such writ shall issue against the 1st defendant for being inconsistent with the provisions of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act, Cap. S6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

    “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants by themselves, their servants, agents, assigns, privies or howsoever constituted from impounding or attempt to impound the plaintiff’s vehicle and or imposing a fine or penalty on the plaintiff for a non-existent traffic offence of “road obstruction” and “route violation” without giving the plaintiff a fair hearing before a tribunal or court of competent jurisdiction. An order of the Honourable Court setting aside the undertaking dated 20/9/2022 extracted from the plaintiff by the defendants for being illegal, ultra vires the powers of the defendants and void,” it added.

    On what transpired, he recalled that on
    “That on Saturday, the 19th day of September, 2022 at about 3:pm, I drove my car aforesaid to the Aroma junction Area of Awka metropolis in company of one of my colleague, I.E. Monanu Esq. en route Ifite Awka for a meeting with some of our clients most of who came in from outside the State.

    “On getting to Aroma round about by Ifite Road, I drove into Femas Filling Station along Ifite Road by Aroma junction to buy petrol for my car. After buying the petrol and while driving out of the filing station in order to proceed on our journey to Ifite Awka for the meeting as stated above, the staff of the 1st defendant numbering about five and being led by the 3rd defendant, swooped on me and commanded me to stop with a threat to place an iron fitted with nails under my car tyres.

    “That I immediately stopped. As soon as I stopped the car, the officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant commanded me to come down from the car and hand the car keys over to them.I came down from the car as commanded by the officers of the 1st defendant being led by the 3rd defendant.

    “As soon as I stepped down from the car, the 3rd defendant directed me to hand over the car keys to him which I did.
    After handing the keys of my car to the 3rd defendant in obedience to his command, I inquired from the 3rd defendant what I did to warrant them to stop me and take my car key from me. The 3rd defendant unguardedly and unabashly told me that I have committed a traffic offence of “driving one way”.

    “That I immediately explained to the officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant that I only bought petrol from Femas Filling Station and wanted to continue my journey to Ifite Awka on the route leading from Aroma junction to Ifite Awka. The officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant told me that I am guilty of a traffic offence of driving one way and that if I don’t want my vehicle to be towed to their office and pay heavy fine or penalty.

    .”I should give them the sum of N30,000 only on the spot so that they will release my car to me and that if I fail to give them the money, they will tow my car to their office and impound it until I pay the fine or penalty for driving one way and fine for towing the vehicle to their office. I pleaded with the officers of the 1st defendant that my colleague and I were going for an important meeting at Ifite Awka with our clients some of who came in from outside Anambra State and who were waiting for us at the venue of the meeting.

    “but the officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant insisted that I must give them the sum of N30, 000 otherwise they must take my car to their office.

    1. When the officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant insisted that I must give them the sum of N30,000,00 and take my car without going to their office, I inquired from them whether they will give me receipt for the sum of N30,000.00 they wanted me to give to them.

    “The officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant became obviously infuriated, derisively laughed and mocked me and stated that “I am ready to pay heavy fine or penalty in their office. That I continue to beg and appeal to the officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3st defendant to allow us proceed on our planned meeting as our clients were already calling us incessantly but the officers of the 1st defendant refused, insisting that if I want to go to the meeting with my car, I have to “do something”.

    ” My colleague, I.E. Monanu Esq. also joined in begging the officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant but they insisted on our giving them money if we wanted to proceed on our journey. While I was begging and entreating the officers of the 1st defendant to allow us proceed on our journey, I sighted a senior colleaque, Greg Offodile less than a pole away and I quickly sent I.E. Monanu Esq. who was with me to go and call Greg Offodile Esq. to join us in begging the officers of the 1st defendant to allow us to go for our scheduled meeting.

    “That I.E. Monanu Esq. went and called Greg Offodile Esq. and as soon as Greg Offodile Esq. approached the spot where we were, the officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant became overtly violent and aggressive and started raining abuses on Greg Offodile Esq. for ever daring to come close to the spot, stating that Greg Offodile Esq. had threatened to take the 1st defendant to court sometime ago.

    “That Greg Offodile Esq. appealed to them to allow us to proceed on our schedule meeting and further told them that Femas Filing Station where I bought petrol cannot be regarded as “one way” but the officers of the 1st defendant refused and became more offensive and aggressive to us for forever inviting Greg Offodile Esq. to appeal to them.

    “While Greg Offodile Esq. was still appealing to them on our behalf, one of the officers of the 1st defendant led by the 3rd defendant commanded my colleague and I to enter into the car which we did and he drove off despite my appeal to him to allow me drive the car to their office. While on transit to the office of the 1st defendant and while being driven by the 3rd defendant in company of another officers of the 1st defendant, the 3rd defendant glibly and unguarded told me that for inviting Greg Offodile Esq. to assist me in entreating them to release my car, they will double the fine or penalty which I will pay when they get to their office in order to teach me a lesson.


    The 3rd defendant while calling Greg Offodile unprintable names for ever threatening to take the 1st defendant to court, rebuked and reprimanded me severally for enlisting the assistance of Greg Offodile, their enemy to beg them on my behalf and that I will be surprise the amount of fine or penalty they will impose on me for my “indiscretion” in inviting Greg Offodile to ever speak to them.

    ” When we eventually got to the 1st defendant’s office at Agu-Awka , the 3rd defendant immediately directed one of the officers of the 1st defendant to deflate two tyres of my car which the officer did immediately.
    After my car had been impounded and the two tyres deflated on the orders of the officers of the 1st defendant, the 3rd defendant and the other officer of the 1st defendant who accompanied us to their office from Aroma junction Awka, went into their office and emerged after a while and told me to go inside and ascertain the fine or penalty imposed on me for committing traffic offences.

    ” He immediately left.
    Almost immediately, I went inside the 1st defendant’s building and met the officer in charge of the imposition of fines and penalty who told me that the 3rd defendant and the other officer of the 1st defendant who contravened and impounded my vehicle told him that I am guilty of two traffic offences of “route violation and “route obstruction” and that the offence attracts a fine of N30,000 and 20,000 respectively making it the sum of N50,000,00 as fine or penalty for the two traffic offences.

    “All efforts I made to explain to the officer of the 1st defendant who is in charge of imposition of fine on ‘offenders’ that I did not drive one way or obstruct any road proved abortive as the officer stated that he gives out the fine or penalty based on information given to him by those who impounds and contravenes vehicles. That while I was discussing with the officer of the 1st defendant who gives out the contravention notice containing the fines or penalties for the various alleged traffic offences, many motorists, tricycle and motor cycle riders whose vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles were impounded queued up and were paying cash to the officer in charge of giving out the contravention notice as fine or penalty imposed on them.

    “The officer who gives out the contravention notice, Mr. Osoluka Chukwudi told me that I can pay cash of N40, 000, 00 (Forty Thousand Naira only) to them if I want my car to be released to me immediately without any contravention notice given to me and pointed at the queue to me as those who are “complying with the payment of cash” to have their vehicles, tricycles, buses and motor cycles released to them. The officer of the 1st defendant, Mr. Osoloka Chukwudi who hands out the contravention notice containing the alleged traffic offences and the fines or penalties payable for each of the offences told me that if I am not ready to pay cash to him, he will issue me with contravention notice the effect of which is that my vehicle will remain impounded until Tuesday, the 22nd day of September, 2022 when banks and offices will be open for business and when I will pay the fine as shall be stated in the Contravention Notice.

    ” After the information from Mr. Osoluka Chukwudi as averred in paragraphs 25 and 26 above, I inquired from the said Mr. Osoluka Chukwudi if I will be issued with receipt upon payment of the cash sum of N40, 000, 00 fine for the alleged traffic offences I committed but he answered in the negative and I consequently, demanded that he issues me with the Contravention Notice. That the Contravention Notice was issued to me by the officer of the 1st defendant, Osoluka Chukwudi which showed that I allegedly committed two traffic offences of “Route violation” and “Route obstruction” and that I should pay a fine or penalty of N50,000 for both “offences” at the bank through the Anambra State Pay Direct Account Number stated on the Contravention Notice.

    “The Contravention Notice issued to me by the 1st defendant on 19/9/2022 and signed by the officer of the 1st defendant, Mr. Osoloka Chukwudi is hereby annexed and marked as EXHIBIT ND3. After I was issued with the contravention notice, I left the premises of the 1st defendant at about 5:30 pm without my car and could no longer attend the scheduled meeting with my clients at Ifite Awka as a result of the actions of the defendants.

    ” On Tuesday, the 22/9/2022, I went to the bank with the Contravention Notice to pay the fine or penalty of N50, 000 only imposed on me as punishment for the alleged traffic offences of “Route violation and “Road Obstruction” but none of the banks were accepting pay direct to the account details on the contravention notice. The banks said that the Anambra State Pay Direct portal was down at that time.

    ” Confused and distraught after attempting to pay at all the banks along Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Awka without success, I proceeded to the office of the 1st defendant and lodged a complaint to them of my inability to pay the fine at any of the commercial banks. Upon laying the complaint, I was told to go to the Anambra State Revenue House, Agu-Awka to pay the fine imposed on me.

    ” I immediately proceeded to the Revenue House, Agu-Awka to pay the fine or penalty imposed on me by the officers of the 1st defendant. When I got to the Revenue House, I was told that before I could pay the fine or penalty, I must subscribe to the Anambra State ANSID Number. Consequently, I was mandated to pay the sum of N1, 500 only before the ANSID Number was given to me which payment was not receipted.

    “After I was issued the ANSID Number at the Revenue House, I paid the sum of N50, 000.only as Anambra State Road Traffic Management Agency ARTMA-Traffic fines and another related offences fees and was issued with Anambra state IGR Payment Receipt. The Anambra State IGR Payment Receipt issued to me after payment of the fine of N50, 000 for the alleged traffic offences is hereby annexed and marked as EXHIBIT ND4.

    “That after I had made paid the fine levied on me as punishment for the alleged traffic offences fine and issued with payment receipt, proceeded to the premises of the 1st defendant. when I got to the office of the 1st defendant, I presented both the Contravention Notice and the receipt of payment of the fine to the officer of the 1st defendant who was also receiving cash payment from many motorists who queued up for payment and requested that I be given my car keys to enable me go with my car.

    “That while I was discussing with the officer of the 1st defendant who had already collected both the Contravention Notice and the payment receipt from me, another officer of the 1st defendant came in, saw me and instructed the officer who should release the keys of my car to me not to do that until I write an undertaking for the 3rd defendant alleging that I threatened the 1st defendant Eke Awka market.

    “All efforts to explain to the officer who should ordinarily hand over my cars to me after I had paid for the fine was rebuffed and almost immediately, an officer of the 1st defendant who I later got to know is in charge of operations walked in and commanded that my car key should not be given to me unless I wrote an undertaking for the 3rd defendant who according to him, I allegedly threatened for impounding my car.

    “I told the officer that I did not threaten anybody including the 3rd defendant but he insisted that my car keys will not be released to me in spite of the fact that I had paid the fine or penalty imposed on me for the alleged traffic offences of “road obstruction” and “road violation” until I write an undertaking for the 3rd defendant.
    Despite all explanations and appeals to him, the officer in charge of operations refused to release my car key and insisted that I must write an undertaking with my passport photograph attached to it before my car will be released to me.

    “Frustrated and disturbed and in order to have my car released to me after I had paid the fine, I accepted to write the undertaking and did in fact write the undertaking on the command of the officer in charge of operations. After I had written the undertaking, the officer of the 1st defendant in charge of operations insisted I must bring my passport photograph or else I should go and come back the following day with the passport photograph before my car will be released to me.

    “While the officer in charge of operations was issuing these orders to me, another officer of the 1st defendant who incidentally know me walked in, heard what the officer in charge of operations was saying, and pleaded with him to allow me to go with my car in so far as I had written an undertaking stating that he knows me too well and have known me for the past 20 years.

    “It was at this point that the officer in charge of operations agreed to allow me go with my car after paying the fine and writing an undertaking for the 3rd defendant. After I wrote the undertaking, I used my Infinix phone camera to snap the undertaking I wrote for the 3rd defendant. A copy of the undertaking dated 22/9/2022 is hereby annexed and marked as EXHIBIT ND 5.

    “That when my car key was released to me, I inquired how I will drive my car away, the two tyres having been deflected by the officers of the 1st defendant. One of the officers of the 1st defendant told me that I will pay the sum of N500 only so that they can use their machine to inflate my car tyres. I told the officer of the 1st defendant that I do not have N500 but that I had only N300 on me. He reluctantly collected the N300 only and inflated my tyres.

    “When I made to leave the gate with my car, the officers of the 1st defendant who were at the gate told me that I must mandatorily pay the sum of N200 as gate fee before I could leave with my car. Disappointed and disoriented, I paid the sum of N200 to the officers of the 1st defendant before they can open the gate for me.
    That the 1st defendant was created by the Anambra State Road Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended) in 2015. The Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law, 2011 and its amendment in 2015 are hereby annexed and marked as EXHIBITS ND6 and ND7 respectively.

    “That the Law creating the 1st defendant or any bye law or regulations thereto did not create any office known as “Road violation” or “Road obstruction” or any offence at all. That as a legal practitioner who has read through the Law which creates the 1st defendant, I know as a fact as follows:
    That the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended) did not create any offence called “Route violation” “Route obstruction”.

    “There is no known regulation made pursuant to the Law which creates the offences I allegedly committed
    iii. I know as a fact that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 is the Supreme Law and its provisions are binding on all persons and authorities within the Federal Republic of Nigeria
    in 1 (1) (3), 6(6), 36 (6) (1) (2) (a) (b), (WHETHER upon a proper construction, interpretation and application of Sections 1 (1)(3), 6(6), 36(6) (1) (2) (a) & (b), (3) (4) (12) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Sections 10 and 11 of the Anambra State Road Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended) or any bye law or regulation made thereto, the 1st defendant as an a management agency of Anambra State Government has inherent powers in itself or from the provisions of the enabling Law to hold a person guilty of an alleged traffic offence and impose a fine or penalty without proper adjudication by a court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction.

    “WHETHER upon a proper construction, interpretation and application of Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Sections 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14 of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended) or any bye law or regulation made thereto, the 1st defendant can legally designate any expressway, road, street and lanes in the State as “one way” without any Law or Gazette of the Anambra State House of Assembly and thereby create a fictitious offence called “one way driving” or ‘route violation’ which enables the 1st defendant to impose a fine or penalty on the plaintiff without trial and without affording the plaintiff an opportunity to be heard.

    “WHETHER upon a proper construction, interpretation and application of Sections 1(1) (3), 4(1) (2) (3) (4), Part 1 and 2 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Sections 20, 82, 85 and 86 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act, Cap. S6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Section 28 (1) and (3) of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law, 2011 (as amended), the Anambra House of Assembly can competently make a Law which can derogate from and limit the application of the provisions of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act, Cap. S6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, regarding the enforcement of judgments that may be obtained against the 1st defendant in civil proceedings instituted against the 1st defendant.

    “WHETHER upon a proper construction, interpretation and application of Section3) (4), 34 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Public of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Sections 10 and 11 of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency Law 2011 (as amended), the defendants have the vires or powers to impound the plaintiff’s vehicle for an alleged traffic offence of “Road Obstruction’ and “Route Violation” and insist on extracting an undertaking from the plaintiff before releasing the plaintiff’s vehicle to him even after the plaintiff had paid the sum of N50,000 only as fine or penalty imposed on the plaintiff by the defendants for a non-existent traffic offence of ‘Road obstruction’ and “Route violation.”

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