Officials of Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) have no business inspecting vehicle papers on Nigerian roads, a Delta State Appeal Court has judged.
The judgement follows a long-drawn case that started in 2014 involving Kunle Edun, the former publicity secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association in Delta State.
The case, a lawsuit challenging the agency’s requirement for roadworthiness from private owners – was eventually concluded in April 2021, after a notice came up to argue at the appeal, preceding an Ugheli High Court judgment in 2014, Edun won the appeal.
Edun recalled that in 2014 while driving on a major road in Ughelli, Delta State, to inspect a plot of land with his client, he came across some sort of obstruction placed on the road by the VIO officers. He was stopped, asked to identify himself, which he did, and was then asked for his vehicle’s roadworthiness certificate, which he said was wrong for them to ask and was delayed for eight to ten minutes.
Edun also noted that the VIOs have no business stopping vehicles to ask for any documents.
“The fact is that they have no right to even be on a public road purporting to be asking for roadworthiness certificates. As of the time of the renewal of my vehicle particulars, if they want to check whether the vehicle is actually roadworthy, that is where they should do that, rather than get on the roads to harassing commuters and asking for documents,” Edun said.
Edun furthered sue for stopping and detaining him for 10 minutes.
“For daring to stop me and detain me for 10 minutes, I will take it up.’ I considered what they did as harassment and I didn’t like it,” he added.
According to him, they initially believed it to be a joke before challenging the move in court. Finally, the court ruled in his favour and stated, first and foremost, that VIOs had absolutely no business being on the road. Vehicle stops for document requests are not something that should be done.
“At the end of the day, the court delivered judgment in my favour and declared that VIOs – or whatever name they are called – have no business even being on the road, first and foremost.
“The judge was particular that their work and duty should be done at their offices, not on the road. The judge said, ‘You don’t inspect vehicles on the road; you inspect vehicles at your workshop or office, and the best time to do that is during annual vehicle license renewal.’ The judge also said that they had no authority to even stop any private vehicle, demanding any document whatsoever,” Edun noted in the interview with journalists.
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