A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has delivered a landmark judgement 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.
The judgement was delivered on Friday, 25th of September, 2020, by Honorable Justice Oweibo, sitting at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos in Suit No FHC/L/CS/982/2020 was filed by Megawatts Nig Ltd (Applicant) against the Reg Trustees of Gbagada Phase II Residents’ Association
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 Nig. Ltd is a company resident within the estate, it is bound to pay demanded dues and levies.
Megawatts contended 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 Nig. Ltd and awarded cost. 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 s 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… “.