An interim committee set up by the federal government to manage the affairs of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) have been told to refrain from performing statutory functions.
The government’s directive is contained in a statement issued yesterday and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Bashir Nura Alkali, for the Minister, Babatunde Fashola.
The Permanent Secretary said he issued the statement as directed by the Minister of Works and Housing “pursuant to the provision of sections 3 and 4 (1) of the Act, as well as Clause 2(2) of the First schedule to the Act.”
According to the statement, the Management Committee of ARCON that the Committee should “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); 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.
Giving reasons for its action, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing its attention was drawn “to the activities of the Management Committee of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), a transition committee created by law to undertake routine management of the ARCON upon expiration of tenure of its statutory council and pending the constitution of a new council.”
The minister said, “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.
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.
“In order to forestall any breach of law and guide the Management Committee of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria, the stakeholders, and members of public appropriately, it is pertinent to make the following clarifications in line with the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria Act (Cap A19 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004).
“The membership composition of the Council is spelt out in Section 2 (2) of 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.
“It is this Council that the Act vests with the performance of the core functions of ARCON as provided for by Section 2 (1) (a- c) of the Act. These functions can only be undertaken by the Council when there is a quorum of the membership of the Council. This is expressly stated in Section 4 of the First Schedule to the Act, thus: “The quorum of the Council shall be ten, so however that, at least one of the persons appointed by the Institute and five of the representatives of the States of the Federation are present at the particular meeting and the quorum of any committee of the Council shall be determined by the Council.”
The statement said the Ministry is not unaware of the provisions of Clause 1 (5) of the First Schedule to the Act, which provides that: “Notwithstanding that the term of office of a member of the Council has expired by the effluxion of time, a person appointed as the President, Vice-President or Treasurer of the Council shall continue in that office until a fresh appointment is made to the office.”
The statement said, “It is the position of the Ministry that this provision does not entitle the President, Vice-President or Treasurer, who now constitute the Management Committee, to assume the role of the Council having regards to the statutory provision of Quorum of the Council. Clear guidance is provided by Section 27 of the Interpretation Act Cap. 123 L.F.N 2004, Thus: “any act or thing which a statutory body is authorised or required to do
shall only be done by a majority of members of such statutory body or a quorum of them.”
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. It therefore follows that the President, Vice-President or Treasurer who now constitute the 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 of Works and Housing said its attention was drawn to the activities of the Management Committee, “particularly the newspaper publication in The Guardian Newspaper of 16th May 2022 in respect of the Architects Professional Competency Evaluation (APCE). These are core statutory functions of the Council when properly constituted and therefore ultra vires the functions of a Management Committee to act upon.”
Source : This Day