Survey Practices: Court Voids Section 5 Of Lagos State Survey Law

* Wooden Justice Gavel and Scales. Vector * Source : 123RF.com

 

 

Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos has held that the Lagos State House of Assembly acted unconstitutionally, in enacting Section 5 of the Survey Law of Lagos State, which requires Surveyors to obtain written consent of the Surveyor General of Lagos State before carrying out survey on any State land or land acquired by the Lagos State Government.

Consequently, the court held that the Surveyors Council of Nigeria is the only body vested with authority to regulate and control survey practice/profession throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Justice Osiagor made these pronouncement while delivering judgement in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1789/2020 and  filed by seven Surveyors, Adaranijo Ibikunle Ganiyu Rafiu, Aluko Kikelomo Sikirat (Mrs.), Adedeji Olarewaju, Adams Benjamin Olugbenga, Mekuleyi Oluseyi Samuel, Aliu Samuel, and Fashina Adedapo against the Surveyor General of Lagos State and 10 others.

Other defendants in the suit are, Surveyors Council of Nigeria, Surv Olatunbosun David, Surv Adesina Adeleke, Surv Akomolafe A.O, Surv Odetunmobi O. Olufemi, Surv Mrs Akintaro, Surv Michael Adebisi Alonge, Surv. Egbeyemi Lateef, the Attorney General of Lagos State, and the Attorney General of the Federation respectively.

Justice Osiagor held further that  the Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON) has the powers to issue the guidelines for the conduct of Survey Practice in Nigeria 2020 in exercise of its powers to regulate and control survey practice/ profession in Nigeria and that the Surveyor General of Lagos State being a member of SURCON, is bound to follow and apply the Guidelines for the Conduct of Survey Practice in Nigeria 2020, in Lagos State.

The court also held that the Surveyor General, of Lagos State lacks the power to deny the Plaintiffs or any Registered Surveyor consent to conduct survey on any parcel of land in Lagos State (whether owned by the Lagos State Government, Corporate bodies or private individuals) and that he also lacked the power to reject copies of survey plans submitted by the Plaintiffs or any other Registered Surveyor in Nigeria for lodgment.

The trial judge further ruled that the Surveyor General of Lagos State does not have the power to demand and/or insist on counter-signing a survey plan prepared by a Registered Surveyor or any plan at all as same has been abolished in Nigeria as far back as 1974.

Besides, Justice Osiagor held  that the engagement of Surv Olatunbosun David, Surv Adesina Adeleke, Surv Akomolafe A.O, Surv Odetunmobi O. Olufemi, Surv Mrs Akintaro, Surv Michael Adebisi Alonge, Surv. Egbeyemi Lateef by the Surveyor General of Lagos State  via a letter dated 15 September 2020 with Reference No. OSSG/CAD/2020/Vol. 1/ 033, as the only Surveyors to carry out surveys in the Mende Revocation Area, to the exclusion of the Plaintiffs and every other Registered Surveyor in Nigeria is hereby set aside for being a gross violation of the provisions of Sections 4(d) and 19(1) of the SURCON Act, Sections 1(3), 1(5) and 3 of the Guidelines for the Conduct of Survey Practice in Nigeria 2020.

The court also granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants from giving effect to the Surveyor General’s letter dated 15 September 2020 with Reference No. OSSG/CAD/2020/ Vol. 1/033, pursuant to which the said seven appointed surveyors were engaged by the Surveyor General of Lagos State.

The Plaintiff by an Originating Summons dated December 11, 2020, which was filed and argued by their lawyer, Osaretin Ogbebor, prayed the court to determine the following ‘’Whether having regard to Section 4(4) and items 25 and 26 Part Il of the second schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Sections 1 and 4 of the Surveyors Council of Nigeria Act CAP S18, LFN 2004 (SURCON Act), the 2nd Defendant is the only body or authority vested with the powers to regulate and control the practice and the profession of surveying throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

‘’Whether having regard to the provisions of section 4 (a-e) of the SURCON Act, CAP S18, LFN 2004, the 2nd Defendant has the powers to issue the guidelines for the conduct of survey practice in Nigeria 2020 in exercise of its powers to regulate and control survey practice in Nigeria.”

‘’Whether having regards to section 2 and 4 of the SURCON Act, the 1st Defendant who is a member of the 2nd Defendant is bound to follow and apply the guidelines for the conduct of survey practice in Nigeria 2020, in Lagos State.”

‘’Whether having regard to section 4(2)(3)(4)&(5) of the Constitution, items 25 and 26 part 11 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, section 1, 4 and 19(1) of the SURCON Act, the provisions of section 5 of the Survey Law of Lagos State is valid.

The Plaintiffs had in a 37 paragraphs affidavit deposed to by Surv. Adaranijo Ibikunle Ganiyu Rafiu, urged the court to determine whether having regard to Section 4(4) and items 25 and 26 Part Il of the second schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Sections 1 and 4 of the Surveyors Council of Nigeria Act Cap S18, LFN 2004 (SURCON Act), the 2nd Defendant is the only body or authority vested with the powers to regulate and control the practice and the profession of surveying throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Plaintiffs also urged the court to determine whether the Surveyor General of Lagos State  has the power to reject copies of survey plans submitted by the Plaintiffs and every other registered surveyor in Nigeria for lodgement as required by section 2 of the Guidelines for the conduct of survey practice in Nigeria 2020 and section 2 of the Survey Law of Lagos State.

However, in their Notice of Preliminary Objection, the 1st, 3rd- 10th defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.

The Defendant argued that the suit by its nature is a challenge to the constitutionality of the actions of the Officials of Lagos State Government under a law enacted by the House of Assembly of Lagos State and therefore not one of the matters within the judicial competence of the Federal High Court as conferred by section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

They further argued that the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff/Respondent are against the 1st, 3rd -10th Defendants/Applicants who are not agents of the Federal Government.

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