Aggrieved architects get leave to file contempt proceedings against minister
Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Lagos has granted leave to two architects to file contempt proceeding against the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and two others for alleged continuous disobedience to court’s order.
Fashola alongside Architect Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) and Registered Trustees of the Nigerian Institute of Architect (RTNIA) was dragged before the court by two aggrieved architects, James Onyemenam and Adeleke Iwakun over the conduct of the Professional Practice Competence Examination (PPCE).
In the suit, the plaintiffs among other reliefs, want the court to determine whether ARCN is empowered by the relevant laws establishing and guiding it, to perform the function of continuing the Professional Practice Competence Examination: or any Architect Competence Programme or any examination by whatsoever name called, with a view to registering persons into the Register of Architect entitled to practice in Nigeria pursuant to the Architects’ (Registration, Etc) Act, Cap A19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
They also want the court to determine whether, in the light of the non-inauguration and/or the constitution of the Council by the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, ARCN can solely carry out the function of the other respondents without recourse to the constituted council.
Or whether ARCN can lawfully continue to carry out its functions when the minister has neither inaugurated nor constituted the ARCN council in accordance with the provisions of the ARCON Act.
They also urged the court to determine whether in the absence of a lawfully constituted council of ARCN, the president, vice-president, treasurer and registrar of the ARCN can act on behalf of the ARCN in any capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to conducting PPCE for intending architects.
Besides, the plaintiffs want a court’s declaration that the ARCN is not empowered by the relevant laws establishing and guiding it, to perform the function of conducting PPCE
or any Architect Competence Programme or any examination by whatsoever name called.
A declaration that by virtue of the Architects Act Cap A19 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, ARCN has no power to act without the direction and oversight of duly constituted council and that any act purported to have done by ARCN pursuant thereto is ultra, vires, illegal, null and void.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, the plaintiffs’ counsel, Ijomah Bonny, informed the court of alleged continuous disobedience to court’s order, most especially, the order of the court, granted on April 12, 2018, mandating the respondents to show cause why a restraining order should not be grant against them.
Bonny informed the court that despite the order, the respondents failed to show cause and still went ahead to conduct PPCE. Besides, the ARCN had again announced registration for another conduct of the examination this year.
“My Lord, I intend to file contempt proceedings against the respondents and I will file another motion to restrain all the respondents in order to preserve the Res, which they were attempting to destroy,” he said.
Neither the respondents nor their counsel were represented in court.
However, the judge after listening to the submissions of the plaintiffs ordered their counsel to file the necessary applications regarding his submissions before the court.
Further hearing has been adjourned till June 18.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved architects with other interested parties staged a peaceful protest at the entrance of the court.
The protesters carried various banners with different inscriptions such as “Honourable Minister, Fashola stop!!!!! Illegal and biased exam.”