The federal ministry of works and housing has cautioned the management committee in charge of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) to desist from carrying out statutory functions reserved for a full composition of the council.

The warning was contained in a statement issued by Bashir Alkali, permanent secretary in the ministry of works and housing.

The inauguration of a new council for ARCON scheduled for December 2021 was postponed over a court case involving the council and the Nigeria Institute of Architects, over the membership composition and functions of the association of architects in the country.

Amid the ongoing case, ARCON has scheduled a colloquium expected to hold from May 23 to May 26, 2022.

Speaking on the development, the ministry said such activities cannot be carried out by the management committee, but by a quorum of the statutory council.

“In spite of presidential approval for the inauguration of a new council, it has not been possible to inaugurate the council as a result of litigation instituted by members of the Architecture Profession seeking to stop the inauguration,” the statement reads.

“In the face of this self-induced stalemate, the Management Committee is purporting to exercise powers which only a full committee is permitted by law to exercise.

“Such conducts are clearly not only in violation of their enabling statute but could also attract criminal sanctions. These activities include: a plan to organise the 2022 Colloquium for architects in Nigeria from Monday 23rd –Thursday 26th May, 2022 and a plan to undertake Architects Professional Competency Evaluation (APCE) Exercise. These are core functions of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria and not that of the Management Committee.”

Alkali said while the composition of ARCON is spelt out in the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria Act, Cap A19 L.F.N 2004 “which provides for the constitution of a 49-member Council of ARCON”, such functions as proposed by the management committee can only be carried out by a “quorum” of the council, which involves 10 members with “at least one of the persons appointed by the Institute”, as well as five of the representatives from states.

“A compound reading of the provisions of Section 4 (on the Quorum of the Council), Clause 1(5) of the First Schedule to the Act and  Section 27 of the Interpretation Act clearly indicates that, the President, Vice-President and Treasurer of ARCON do not constitute a quorum for the purpose of carrying out the core functions of the Council,” the statement reads.

“It therefore, follows that the President, Vice-President or Treasurer who now constitute Management Committee can only oversee the routine management of the Council. Moreover, Section 7(3) of the First schedule to the Act further provides that: A decision of the Committee shall be of no effect until it is confirmed by the Council.”

The ministry also cited the plan by the council committee to organise an evaluation exercise, adding that such activity falls under the “core statutory functions of the Council when properly constituted and therefore ultra vires the functions of a Management Committee to act upon”.

As such, the ministry directed the committee to “refrain forthwith from all activities which constitute statutory functions of the Council as enumerated in Section 2 (1) (a- c) of the Act until a new properly constituted Council is in place; only oversee the routine administrative management of the Council until a new properly constituted Council is in place; retract recent statement in the advert by the Committee on the Architects Professional Competency Evaluation (APCE)”.

The ARCON management committee has also been directed to “intensify efforts to reconcile the warring factions to embrace dialogue in resolving issues leading to the stagnation of the profession, rather than engage in   needless litigation that created the current impasse; and ensure that the issues that led to the litigation that created the current impasse are speedily and amicably resolved in the best interest of the architecture profession and the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Source : The Cable