The representative of the Directorate of Road Traffic Services in the Federal Capital Territory, Kalu Emetu, has come forward to uphold the legality of the fee imposed on motorists for replacing faded number plates.
In a telephone interview on Sunday, Emetu clarified that he had never specified a fee of N25,000 as reported by some news outlets. He emphasized that the service pertains not to a complete replacement of number plates, but rather to the alteration of faded ones.
According to Emetu, these number plates serve as vital identifiers for vehicles. In instances of stolen vehicles, the absence of clear number plates obstructs the ability to track them down.
“I did not provide any exact figures. My focus was on the legal provisions that permit us to carry out a change of number plates. Number plates are not renewed; they are only changed when they fade. Consider it akin to your name; it’s an identity. We must be able to identify your vehicle from a distance,” Emetu explained.
He pointed out that the concern extends not only to the Directorate of Road Traffic Services but also to the vehicle owners themselves. When a car is reported stolen, it’s crucial to identify the vehicle from a distance. Otherwise, there’s no way to recognize the vehicle.
Regarding the fee for the change of faded plates, Emetu acknowledged an official amount set by the Directorate but refrained from specifying the figure to avoid potential misinterpretation.
In a previous interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, Emetu emphasized that the Directorate couldn’t provide replacements for faded number plates without charge. He justified the fee by noting that the durability of the plates could be compromised based on how they’re used.
He explained, “People often question why we charge motorists or impose fines for something they received from us. Everything has a lifespan. For instance, if someone has been using a number plate for two to three years without considering how it’s handled and it fades, it’s unreasonable to expect a free replacement.”
Addressing the legal foundation for imposing fines on motorists, Emetu cited Sections 299, 301, and 302 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These sections empower the Directorate to impose fines, seize vehicles, and prosecute owners if they are found to have committed traffic offenses, including the use of faded number plates.
Emetu underscored that number plates are intended for identification, requiring visibility from at least 20 meters away. When this isn’t achievable, the number plates lose their purpose, potentially enabling criminal activities.
“As the custodians of vehicle usage on roads, it’s our duty, in line with our mandate, to ensure that society is not adversely affected. If we neglect our responsibility, it could lead to a cascade of problems for society,” Emetu concluded.