From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Residents and business owners in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have decried the continued harassment by officials of the Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS) which has since been nullified by the court.
A High Court of the FCT has in a judgment nullified DOAS describing it illegal and unknown to the law.
Justice Baba Idris who delivered the judgment specifically held that its establishment did not have a basis in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having been created contrary to the dictates of Section 1 (3) and Paragraph 1 (K) of the 4th Schedules to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 (as amended).
The judgment was in respect of the suit filed by Metro Auto Workshop Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Muhammed Sani Yussuf (for and on behalf of all residents and Business Owners within the Abuja Municipal Area Council of the FCT against the Abuja Municipal Area Council, Abuja Environmental Protection Board and others.
The court held that by the provision of section 7 and the 4th Schedule 11c (i) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), “It is the function of the local council to control and regulate outdoor advertising and hoarding.
The 3rd defendant ( Minister of FCT) which under section 299 of the constitution is considered to be a state, has no business regulating outdoor advertisement, therefore, any department created by 3rd defendant to regulate outdoor advertisement is a multiplicity of agencies and multiple taxations”.
On whether the 4th defendant (the National Assembly of Nigeria) has performed its duties under the constitution, the judgment stated that the bill for an act to make provision for Assessment, Laying and Collection of tax on real property within FCT and other matters connected therewith has been pending before the National Assembly (4th defendant).
It is for the claimants to propose the passage of the bill if they feel there is an undue delay on the part of the 4th defendant or to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the 4th defendant to do its duties.
The Claimants had among others had asked the Court to determine whether there existed any law or statute passed or deemed passed by the National Assembly for the Federal Capital Territory enabling Abuja Municipal Area Council to charge the First Claimant tenement rate on its premises.
But despite the judgment, the officials of the defunct department has continued to operate in the city to the chagrin of residents and business operators in the Abuja Municipality.
Some of the business owners who spoke to Daily Sun lamented they have been severally harassed by officials of DOAS under the leadership of it’s Director, Dr. Baba Gana,
According to Musa Tijani, a business man within the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), ” We were all happy over the court Judgment that disbanded the department has continued to extort money from us.”
Confirming the development, counsel to Metro Auto Workshop Nigeria Ltd, Orji Okpara “after the judgment was delivered, we expected Dr. Baba Gana Adams, the Director of the defunct Department of Outdoor Advertising and Signages of the FCT to obey the Judgement of the Court.
He did not, he continued his operation even after the judgment was served on him it was all over in the media that this Judgment has proscribed them, he still went ahead to operate, thereby violating in total disregard to the judgement of the competent High Court of the FCT.
They later came back and filed a Motion to stay the Judgment which was dismissed, we argued the matter in the Court, the Ruling was delivered on the 22nd January, 2021. The Ruling dismissed the Motion for Stay of execution. We expected Dr Baba Gana the Director of the defunct Department of Outdoor Advertising and Signages, we expect him to obey the Ruling, up till today he failed in total disregard to the Judgment and Ruling of the competent Court.
” For your information this said Judgment has not been set aside by Court of Appeal, they have filed an appeal, we expected this people to obey the judgement of the High Court. As I speak to you today been Thursday 28th 2021, they are all over the FCT arresting vehicles, seizing the documents that was issued by the proper authority which is the AMAC, constitutionally established authority which is the Abuja Municipal Area Council and other Area Councils in FCT. They are seizing those documents, issuing their own which the Honourable Court has proscribed, my brother, are we in a Banana Republic? Dr. Baba Gana Adams does not have any regard to the judiciary especially this Judgement that was duly delivered. Assuming without considering, you have a little respect to the duly established competent Court of the Nation he would have obeyed and come back to complain but he did not do that. In total disregard to the Judgement, he is operating normally.
He has filed a Notice of Appeal, even before the Motion for Stay of execution was filed which was the basis they argued before the FCT High Court Nyanya. That Since they have filed an Appeal, they have a good arguable case at the Court of Appeal that my Lord Should restrain us from enforcing the judgement which My Lord said: “No, Obey the judgment first, the judgement has been made available to you,” the judgment was delivered on the Friday 22nd January, 2021 dismissing the stay of execution which they filed. So, one would have expected the Honourable Minister of the FCT and Dr. Baba Gana Adams, the director of the proscribed Department of Advertising and Signages to first of all obey the Judgment or the Ruling before complaining, that is the normal thing but it was not done so and it is all over the FCT operating normally, it shows total disregard and disobedient, he doesn’t take the Court as anything.
“They should please obey this Judgement even if they have gone to Court of Appeal to file an injunction, that is to say they are appealing this Ruling, they have filed an injunction at the Court of Appeal. Let the date of this motion be fixed, let us go to the Court of Appeal but let them maintain status co, obey this Judgment and the Ruling first. That is my prayer.