No doubt the need for resources exists to enable governments, including the government of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja to develop infrastructures, maintain clean and healthy environment and provide security for the residents. These are legitimate aspirations of any government.
Given that Abuja is the CapitalCity of Nigeria, there is the additional need to showcase an international city worthy of the status of Nigeria as a regional power. This perhaps accounts for the huge allocations to the FCT though smaller in land mass and population to States like Benue, Niger, Kwara etc, which in comparison are allocated much smaller funds.
The FCT on its own too, tries to generate internal revenue which probably accounts for all manner of taxes (some justified, others not) in the city.
One of the most controversial taxation by the FCT now is the Parking Tolls or Rates where when a motorist parks, he or she pays for time for parking on the street designated as restricted areas.
These taxes are usually paid in overcrowded areas in some Countries so as to discourage indiscriminate parking and the sort. Well, in Abuja, that does not matter. When you park, you pay, simple.
Yet again in Countries where this operates, there are normally toll ports or vending machines on these streets, where motorists drop in their notes (money) and the vending machine issues a receipt which is placed on the windscreen.
In Abuja, no such Machine exists. A person or two are posted on streets of sometimes a kilometer or two, to attend to all motorists who pay and are issued receipts by these persons or Staff.
Needless to state that this is grossly ineffective as it is inefficient. Often times, when motorists park, no staff is in sight to pay to, and motorist are stranded. Mind numbing is the fact, that if a motorist leaves for want of sighting a staff to pay to, they appear from God knows where, clamp the car tyres for the motorist to part with N5000 before release of the vehicle.
Pix 1: A clamped wheel
In traditional bid to extort money from motorists, these staff sometimes deliberately make themselves unseen hiding behind trees and gates, only to appear and clamp tyres once a motorist moves away so as to make fast money for the company that manages these parking taxes regime for the FCT.
The above was the fate of Rommy Mom, the President of Lawyers Alert on the 15th day of April, 2013. He parked at the entrance of the National Human Rights Commission, with no staff to pay to, made his way into the premises of the Commission and twenty minutes later when he exited, his car was clamped.
In reaching the Authorities, he was informed it was HIS DUTY to look for and locate the Staff and pay parking fees to them.
This Mr. Mom views as gross abuse of his Rights, as he was stranded, demobilized and could do nothing for the three hours the whole episode lasted.
The question is; is it the duty of the Motorist to seek for a Staff to pay the parking fee to or are they supposed to make themselves available and demand payment?
Is the FCT not under an obligation to provide vending machines to make payment more effective and efficient?
Mr. Mom is in Court to have these issues determine in the spirit of good governance.
Below the Court processes.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY
HOLDEN IN ABUJA
ROMMY MOM …..……………………….……………… PLAINTIFF
1. PLATINUM PARKING MANAGEMENT SERVICES LTD
2. FEDERAL CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
3. MINISTER OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY
PLAINTIFF’S STATEMENT OF CLAIM
The Plaintiff is a Legal Practitioner with office in Abuja
The 1st Defendant parades itself as the Manager of restricted parking Zones in Makurdi on a Contractual basis in Abuja where the 2nd Defendant is the Development Authority.
On the 15th day of April 2013, the Plaintiff in the normal course of business drove to the National Human Rights Commission Office in Abuja on an official visit.
Hitherto whenever Plaintiff was at the National Human Rights Commission, a Staff of the 1st Defendant normally approaches the Plaintiff for the payment of parking fees which the Plaintiff normally obliges.
Paragraph (4) above has always been the norm wherein Plaintiff always pays whenever at the Human Rights Commission or any other restricted parking zone in Abuja.
On the said 15th day of April as referred to in paragraph (3), Plaintiff parked his car and no Agent came forward to demand a fee, Plaintiff looked around and made efforts to locate an Agent but none was in sight.
At about 11:10 am Plaintiff walked into the premises of the Commission but was informed the Executive Secretary whom he was on an appointment to see, was in a meeting.
Plaintiff left a note and made out of the Commission at exactly 11: 27am only to see Agents of the 1st Defendant had clamped and demobilized his Car.
That he placed a call to the office of the 1st Defendant based on a note left on his car complaining of the action wherein he was directed on phone to remove Note (herein pleaded) behind the sticker and read.
Upon reading Plaintiff was shocked to notice he was directed to pay five (N5000:00) thousand Naira for parking without payment.
Plaintiff called back and explained the situation as stated in the above paragraphs, principally that there was no one to pay to and no one made any demand whilst he parked. Plaintiff further offered to pay the fee of N50 for time spent under 30 minutes.
1st Defendant however ignored Plaintiff explanations insisting it is the duty of the Plaintiff to search for Officers wherever they were and make the payment, insisting Plaintiff had to go a Bank and make the payment.
Plaintiff was forced to take a taxi home, some 10 kilometers away, obtain his ATM card, make withdrawal, then proceed to the designated Bank (First Bank) to make the payment.
Thereafter at about 1pm Plaintiff called the 1st Defendant to demobilize the car, wherein he was told to go wait by the car. 1st Defendant’s Agent arrived at about 3.15pm to demobilize the car, after a period of over 2hours.
Plaintiff in the interim waited and from 11: 27 to almost 3:30pm was forced to attend the sudden issue, leaving every other engagement in the office, inclusive of the trauma, stress, inconvenience and psychological pain he endured all through the period.
Plaintiff contends he was not approach to make any payment, there was no machine to make payments to as it obtains in countries where restricted parking spaces is practiced, neither was there anyone to make payment to when he parked his vehicle.
Wherein plaintiff clams he suffered injury owing to stress, trauma, psychological pain, time wasted and false imprisonment.
Wherein Plaintiff claims as follows:
a) Special Damages of N5000
b) General Damages of N1m.
Dated this…………day of…………………………………….2013