The Court of Appeal sitting at Asaba, Delta State capital, has just affirmed the judgment of the High Court, Ughelli, also in the state, declaring that the Delta State Government lacks the power to authorise and demand the payment of levy and issuance of Road Worthiness Certificate in respect of private vehicles.
Justice Joseph Eyo Ekanem on March 12, 2021, while delivering the judgment in appeal No: CA/B/333/2017, stated that he found no merit in the appeal and therefore affirmed the decision of the trial court.
According to the Certified True Copy of the judgment, the court further stated that “Before drawing the curtain on this judgment, I need to remind public bodies and public officers that a public body or public officer vested with statutory power must take care not to exceed or abuse its or his power. It or he must keep within the limits of the authority committed to it. This is to prevent arbitrariness and the rule of man rather than the rule of law.
“The Vehicle Inspection Officers went beyond the powers vested in them by the Law and the RTR by violently stopping the private vehicle of the Respondent on a public highway using menacing tactics and dangerous implements to demand a certificate of roadworthiness which the said vehicle is not required to have. Such conduct sends a wrong signal to the citizens who may adopt such strong-arm tactics as a means of settling disputes.”
The court also held that a private motor vehicle is a motor vehicle belonging to a particular person or which is for the use of a particular person or group in carrying their personal effects and not for public use or for hire or reward, adding that it will be absurd and completely illegal to impound a private motor vehicle for not having or carrying hackney license or stage carriage license because it is provided as two of the particulars for which any vehicle may be impounded for not having.