September 26, 2022

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Court Nullifies Section 5 of Lagos State Survey Law

Posted By Godwin Onyemaechi

Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court in 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.

The court stated that the Surveyors Council of Nigeria remains the only body vested with authority to regulate and control survey practice/profession throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Justice Osiagor made these pronouncements while delivering judgement in suit Number: FHC L CS 1789 2020 filed by seven Surveyors: Adaranuo Ibikunle Ganiyu Rafiu, Aluko Kikelomo Sikirat, Adedeji Olarewaju Adams Benjamin Olugbenga, Mekuleyi Olusey Samuel, Aliu Samuel, and Fashina Adedapo against the Surveyor General, of Lagos State and 10 others.

Other Defendants in the suit were the Surveyors Council of Nigeria, Olatunbosun David, Adesina Adeleke, Akomolafe A.O, Odetunmobi Olufemi, Mrs. Akinraro, Michael Adebisi Alonge, Egbeyemi Lateef, the Attorney General of Lagos State, and the Attorney General of the Federation respectively.
Justice Osiagor held that only the Surveyors Council of Nigeria, (2nd Defendant) has the powers to issue guidelines for the conduct of Survey Practice in Nigeria 2020, in exercise of its powers to regulate and control survey practice/ profession in Nigeria. The court stated that the Surveyor General of Lagos State (1st Defendant) being a member 2nd Defendant, was bound to follow and apply the Guidelines for the Conduct of Survey Practice in Nigeria 2020, in Lagos State.

The court held that the Surveyor General of Lagos State lacks the powers 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).

The court also held that the first Defendant lacked the powers to reject copies of survey plans submitted by the plaintiffs and every other registered surveyor in Nigeria for lodgement, adding that he has no power to demand and/or insist on counter-signing a survey plan prepared by a Registered Surveyor.

Besides, Justice Osiagor held that: “The engagement of the 3rd to 9th Defendants by the 1st Defendant 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 in 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.”
Subsequently, the court made an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants from giving effect to the 1st Defendant’s letter dated 15 September 2020 with Reference No. OSSG/CAD/2020/ Vol. 1/033, “pursuant to which the 3rd to 9th Defendants were engaged by the 1st Defendant is hereby granted.”

The plaintiffs by an Originating Summons dated 11th of December 2020, filed by their lawyer, Osaretin Egbobor, had prayed 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.

“Whether having regard to the provisions of section 4 (a-e) of the SURCON Act, CAP $18, LEN 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 one per cent 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

The plaintiffs also urged the court to determine, “whether the 1st Defendant has the power to reject copies of survey plans submitted by the Plaintiffs (and every other registered surveyor in Nigeria) for lodgment 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, and 10th Defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
The Defendants, argued that the suit by its nature was 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 were against the 1st, and 3rd -10th Defendants/Applicants who are not agents of the federal government.
However, Justice Osiagor in his judgement dismissed the preliminary objection and held that, “The SURCON Act, being an enactment of the National Assembly is under the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

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