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Published On: Tue, Apr 22nd, 2014

Court declares park and pay in FCT illegal

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high courtBy Sunday Ejike Benjamin

An Abuja High Court has declared illegal the activities of the park and pay of the FCT administration.

In a judgment that lasted several hours, the court held that though the park and pay policy may be described as an excellent policy, but it lacked the backing of the law.

The trial judge, Justice Peter Affen abolished the park and pay policy describing it as illegal.

The plaintiff, Sun Trust Savings and Loans Limited had sued the FCT Minister and two others challenging them on the legality of collecting fees from motorists through the park and pay policy.

The plaintiff amongst other things asked the court to determine whether the park-and-pay policy of the FCT is in pursuant of any act of the National Assembly as provided by the 1999 constitution and whether the defendants can exercise the powers to collect taxes, rates and fees without the act of the National Assembly.

The plaintiff then sought a declaration that the park-and-py policy scheme is ultra-vires, illegal and not in pursuant to any Act of the National Assembly, a declaration that the defendants are not constitutionally empowered to collect tax, fees and rate in the FCT without an act of the National Assembly and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents and privies from collecting taxes, fees and issuing of parking violation charges.

The plaintiff also sought the refund of the N20, 000 collected by the third defendant and another N100 million in exemplary damages.

Justice Affen, in determining the case said though the first defendant can make laws to collect taxes, fees and rates in the FCT, but the 2005 bye law of the FCT did not contemplate the park and pay scheme rather made provision for park and ride, “which is not being implemented.

“The FCT Road Transport Regulation though made elaborate provisions, but I was not fortunate enough to find the park and pay scheme in the 2005 FCT by law. What it provided for under section 118 and 119 is the park and ride scheme. For reasons of clarity, I will state out those provisions in extensor.

“Section 118 states that the transport secretary may from time to time designate any operational area or zone as a park and ride area or route for the purposes of traffic management between 6 am and 6 pm.”

In granting the reliefs sought by the plaintiff, the judge declared the scheme illegal, ultra vires, null and void and also restrained the first defendant from collecting any taxes, rates and fees from motorists except such is provided for by a valid subsidiary legislation.

“The defendants by themselves, privies, agents, servants or whatsoever name called are hereby restrained from operating pay and park scheme save and except the same is provided for or authorized by a valid bye law,” the judge ruled.

 

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