By Peters Ifeoma
A Federal High Court in Lagos, has ruled that Nigerians who live in residential estates cannot be compelled to be members of the Community Development Association (CDA) popularly known as the Estate Residents’ Association.
The above is the judgement of Honorable Justice Oweibo, delivered on Friday, 25th of September, 2020 in a suit with No. FHC/L/CS/982/2020 filed by a company, Megawatts Nigeria Ltd (Applicant) against the Registered Trustees of Gbagada Phase II Residents’ Association and others.
In the suit filed by Mr. Kayode Adeniji of Lawracles LP, the Plaintiff contended that membership of the Resident Association and payment of dues thereto is not compulsory. The position of the Plaintiff 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. The Plaintiff further claimed that the estate security prevented its trucks from accessing the estate in order to compel and coerce the applicant to pay the estate dues for the period between 2017 and 2020which ranges from the sum of N300,000 to N200,000 per annum.
On its part, the Defendant Residents Association argued that the Plaintiff being resident within the estate, is bound to pay demanded dues and levies.
‘The primary issue argued before the court was whether a person; resident in an estate can be compelled and coerced into membership of a resident association?
In its judgment, Justice Oweibo upheld the argument of Megawatts Nig. Ltd and held 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… “.
The above landmark decision of the Court has put an end to any future arbitrariness of resident associations in Nigeria.
By this decision, payment of dues in resident association has been proclaimed as voluntary and forcing residents to be members of resident association declared unconstitutional.