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Friday, 23 September 2011

LAGOS: Court nullifies Lastma's power to fine offenders.

Federal High Court in Lagos has voided some sections of the law establishing the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).

Justice Okon Abang, in a judgment, declared that Sections 9, 11, 12 and 13 of the law establishing  LASTMA is unconstitutional and of no effect on the grounds that it contravenes Section 36 of the Constitution, which guarantee every citizen’s right to fair hearing.

The court upheld LASTMA’s power to arrest traffic offenders, but held that it lacks the powers to impose fine on such offenders. It added that the power to impose fine on anybody who contravenes an existing law resides only with the court.

The court  held that the imposition of fine on any traffic offender by LASTMA amounted to being a judge in its own cause.

“Section 9, 11, 12, and 13 of the law establishing LASTMA is unconstitutional. It is against the spirit of the Section 36 of the Constitution, which gives right of fair hearing to every Nigerian. Moreover, that would amount to being a judge in your own cause,” the court held.

It awarded N500,000 damages against LASTMA.

A Lagos  resident, Jonathan Odutola, whose car was impounded in March and compelled to pay a fine instituted the suit.

He said his car developed some mechanical problems on the Third Mainland Bridge and stopped, and that in an effort to ensure that the car did not obstruct traffic, he immediately called a towing-van which towed the vehicle completely out of the road

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