A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has delivered a landmark judgment that Nigerians who live in a residential estate cannot be compelled to be a member of the Community Development Association (CDA) popularly known as residents’ association of estate.
This decision of the Court has put an end to any future arbitrariness of resident associations in Nigeria. By this decision, payment of dues is now voluntary, and forcing residents to be members has now been declared unconstitutional.
Residents in Lagos State will no longer be subjected and compelled to pay outrageous membership dues and other levies. The judgment was delivered on Friday, 25th of September, 2020, by Honorable Justice Oweibo, sitting at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
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This suit (FHC/L/CS/982/2020) was filed by Megawatts Nigeria Ltd (Applicant) through its counsel Mr. Kayode Adeniji of Lawracles LP, against the Registered Trustees of Gbagada Phase II Residents’ Association and others as respondents.
Facts deposed to on-court processes show that Gbagada Phase II Residents Association had been sending notices: requesting the payment of estate dues from 2017 to 2020 for sums ranging from 300 hundred thousand to 200 thousand naira annually, to Megawatts Nigeria Limited.
The position of the Residents Association is that since Megawatts Nigeria Ltd is a company resident within the estate, it is bound to pay demanded dues and levies.
The position of megawatts on the other hand is that since it provides for its own security, waste management, and other services the estate claims to be providing, it is not bound to pay dues. This is in addition to the fact that Megawatts is not a member of the association.
Megawatts further claimed that the estate security prevented its trucks from accessing the estate in order to compel and coerce the applicant to pay requested fees.
‘The primary issue before the court was whether a person; resident in an estate can be compelled and coerced into membership of a resident association?
The court ruled in favour of Megawatts Nigeria Ltd and awarded cost against Gbagada Phase II Residents Association.
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The court further declared that no one can be forced to be a member of a residential association, be it a company operating within the space of the residential estate or a person who is a resident in that estate.
The court considered section 40 of the 1999 CFRN as Amended which states that:
“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests…”