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Court Grants Leave To Aggrieved Architects To Institute Contempt Action Against Power, Works, Housing Minister, Fashola

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos

Leave was on Monday (today) granted to two architects  to file contempt  action against the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde  Fashola and two others for alleged continuous disobedience to court's order. 

The leave was granted by Justice Rilwan Aikawa of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria. 

It would be recalled that the Minister alongside the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) and  Registered Trustees of the Nigerian Institute of Architect (RTNIA) were dragged before Justice Aikawa by two aggrieved architects, James Onyemenam and Adeleke  Iwakun as a result of alleged conduct of the Professional Practice Competence Examination (PPCE). 

According to the legal action, the aggrieved architects among other reliefs, are asking 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. 

The plaintiffs are further praying the judge to determine whether in the light of the non-inauguration and/ or constitution of the Council by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing,  ARCON  can solely carry out the function of the other respondents without recourse to the constituted council.

They also want the court to determine whether ARCON can lawfully continue to carry out its functions when the minister has neither inaugurated nor constituted the  ARCON Council in accordance with the provisions  of the ARCON Act. 

The plaintiffs equally urged the judge to determine whether in the absence of a lawfully constituted council of ARCON, the President, Vice President, Treasurer and Registrar of the ARCON can act on behalf of the ARCON in any capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to conducting PPCE for intending architects. 

Besides, the plaintiffs want a declaration that the ARCON 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.

Besides, the plaintiffs are asking for a “declaration that by virtue of the Architects Act Cap. A19 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. 

“A declaration that ARCN has no power to act without the direction and oversight of a duty constituted council and that any act purported to have done by ARCN pursuant there to is ultra vires, birds, illegal, null and void.” 

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, the plaintiffs' counsel, Ijomah Bonny informed the court of alleged continuous disobedience to court's order, most especially, order of the court, granted on April 12, 2018 ordering the respondents  to show cause why  a restraining order should not be granted against them. 

The lawyer equally intimated the judge that despite the order, the respondents failed to show cause and still went ahead to conduct PPCE beside, the ARCON has again announced registration for another conduct of the examination this year. 

The counsel said, "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." 

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 necessary applications regarding his submissions before the court. 

Further hearing has been adjourned till June  18, 2019.

Meanwhile,  the aggrieved  architects with other interested parties staged a peaceful protest at  entrance of  the court. 

The protesters carried different bans with different inscriptions  such as: "Honorable Minister Fashola stop!!!!! Illegal  and biased exam".

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