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Police, FRSC fight over issuance of vehicle, driver’s licences

April 2, 2012

FOLLOWING the controversy generated by the Federal Road Safety Corps’ (FRSC’s) plan to issue new number plates and its suspension by both houses of the National Assembly, the Nigeria Police has queried whether it is the constitutional responsibility of the FRSC to issue vehicle and drivers’ licences.

Towards this end, the police have acquired 10,000 Biometric Central Motor Registry (BCMR) machines for the registration of security features of motor vehicles and their owners.

The FRSC had disclosed that the new number plate would cost between N45, 000 and N70,000 depending on types, and would contain certain security features that would help in the detection of crime.

However, at a public hearing organised by the Senate on the issue last week, the Nigeria Police drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that it already had plans in place and had commenced modalities to capture the security features of motorists through the police BCMR scheme currently being test run at a much lower cost.

In a position paper presented to the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, the police pointed out that as the agency charged with the responsibility of crime prevention, the BCMR system would also help it in collation of data on car snatching, recovery and prosecution, adding that it would be wrong for the police to abdicate this responsibility to any other agency, not so empowered.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that contrary to the plan by the FRSC to fish in unfamiliar waters, police organisations in seven countries, including the US, Saudi Arabia and Angola, were currently implementing the BCMR system.

Investigations also revealed that apart from the automobile owners’ biometric identification and monitoring system that is embedded in the scheme, the BCMR has necessary logistics, modern equipment and requisite infrastructure to enable it to provide the required capacity and biometric database for all transactions with respect to automobile registration.

The Nigeria Police claimed that the main responsibility of the FRSC as re-enacted in the FRSC Act 2007 is the mandate to restore order and safety on the nation’s highway.

According to the FRSC Act 2007, the body is primarily responsible for traffic management, prevent and manage accidents on the highways, the supervision of users of such highways, the regulation of traffic thereof, and clearing of obstructions on any part of the highway and educating drivers, motorists and other members of the public, generally on the proper use of the highways.

The Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr Muhammed Dahiru Abubakar, had warned on assumption of duty that the police would no longer allow other agencies to usurp their functions.

However, the FRSC has insisted that the law setting up the corps empowers it to design and produce driver’s licence and vehicle number plate to be used in the country.

FRSC Public Education Officer, Mr Charles Akpabio, reacting to claims by the police that the corps was usurping its power by dabbling in the production of driver’s licence and vehicle number plate, said FRSC acted within its statutory mandate.

Akpabio said the FRSC Establishment Act 2007 unambiguously spelt out the function of the corps, stressing that the “police cannot claim to be producers of driver’s licence and vehicle number plate.”

He said the FRSC Establishment Act 2007, Part 2 talked about the establishment, function and the rank of members of FRSC.

Specifically, he said the Part 3 (D) of the Act stated categorically that “the Commission has the responsibility for designing and producing of driver’s licence to be used by all categories of vehicle operators in Nigeria.”

He added that the Part 3 (E), of the Act, emphatically charged the FRSC with the responsibility of determining from time to time, the requirement to be certified for the issuance of the driver’s licence.

According to him, Part 3 (F) of the FRSC Establishment Act 2007 further said: “The Commission has the responsibility to design and produce vehicle number plate.”

Akpabio said these provisions were very clear and that no government agency had sole authority to produce and distribute driver’s licence and number plate.

Culled from Nigerian Tribune, Monday 2nd April 2012

 

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