The spokesperson for the Directorate of Road Traffic Services in the Federal Capital Territory, Kalu Emetu, has defended the fee charged to motorists for the replacement of faded number plates, describing it as legal.

Emetu, who spoke with our correspondent in a phone interview on Sunday, however, noted that nowhere had he said that the DRTS charged N25,000 as quoted by some news reports, adding that the service was not necessarily a replacement of plate numbers, but just a change of faded plate numbers.

He described the plate number as a form of identity for vehicles, adding that when motorists reported stolen vehicles, there was no way to trace the vehicles without clear number plates.

“I didn’t quote any figures. What I addressed was the sections that legally allow us to do a change of number plates. You don’t renew number plates. It is only when it is faded that you have to change it. Look at it this way, it is just like your name, it is an identity. We have to be able to identify your vehicle from metres away.

And it is not only the DRTS that is concerned, but the owner is also concerned. When your car is stolen and you go to report it, we need to be sure that we can see that plate number from a distance, otherwise, how do we identify your car?”

The Spokesman also said that there was an official amount charged by the Directorate for the change of faded plate numbers but said he would rather not name a figure and be misquoted.

In an earlier interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday, Emetu had said that there was no way the Directorate would replace faded number plates for free, adding that the way people used the number plates could affect their durability.

“The question people normally ask is, why should we charge motorists or ask them to pay a fine for what they got from us? You see, everything in life has its life span. Like a situation where somebody uses a number plate say two to three years, not minding the way the person was using it and gets faded.

Therefore, it is wrong for the person to feel that another one should be given to him or her free of charge,” he said.

On which law empowers the service to impose fines on motorists, the spokesman explained that Sections 299, 301 and 302 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria empowered the DRTS to do so, while also stating that they were also empowered to impound vehicles and prosecute the owners, where it was logically proved that they had committed any traffic offence, including a faded number plate.

“Mind you number plates are for identification; it is expected that the number is visibly seen from at least 20 metres away. And, in a situation where it is not, it simply means that it cannot perform the function for which it is meant. So, such vehicles can be used to perpetrate crimes in the society.

“So, on our own part as the custodians of the usage of such vehicles on the roads, in line with the mandate given to us, we are supposed to see it as not good enough for society by doing the needful. Therefore, if we fail to do the needful, chances are that it may create a chain of problems for society.”