Nigerians who live or has business in any residential estates cannot be compelled or coerced to be a member or made to pay estate dues by the resident estate associations, a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos has ruled.
This landmark ruling has drawn a line between voluntary and involuntary membership of associations, particularly as it relates to financial obligations expected of members. In other words, no resident shall be compelled or coerced or intimidated to pay any dues to resident associations.
The judgement was delivered on September 25, 2020 by Honourable Justice Oweibo, sitting at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The suit number (FHC/L/CS/982/2020) was filed by Megawatts Nigeria Limited (Applicant) through his counsel, Mr Kayode of Lawracles LP, against the Registered Trustees of Gbagada Phase 11 Residents’ Association and others as respondents.
Facts deposed to in court indicate that Gbagada Phase II Residents Association had been sending notices: requesting the payment of estate dues from 2017 to 2020 for sums ranging from N200,000 to N300,000 annually, to megawatts Nigeria Limited.
The position of the Residents Association is that since Megawatts Nigeria Limited 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 Limited and awarded cost against Gbagada Phase II Residents Association. The court declared that no one can be forced to be a member of a residential association, be it 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 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…”