NIS, SURCON head for court over induction ceremony

UPHEAVAL may soon be finding its way into the fold of the land surveyors in Nigeria, as both the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS) and its regulatory body, Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON), appear set for showdown over allegation and counter allegation bothering on induction of new members.

  While NIS frowned and decried the induction of new members, saying SURCON does not have the costitutional powers to do same,  the Surveyor-General of the Federation, Prof Peter Nwilo, however, said SURCON’s action was intact and in tandem with the relevant law.

  But as a way to press its position further, NIS may have concluded plans to seek redress in the law court, specifically to declare SURCON’s action illegal, null and void. 

  It was alleged that SURCON’s Registrar, Witnston Ayeni had called Council’s meeting and conducted the induction of new surveyors last week in Abuja.

 Describing the whole ceremony as sham, NIS President, Bern Omo Akhigbe said that the investiture of the new surveyors is a complete nullity, adding that the Registrar had acted beyond his powers, which NIS will challenge in court.

  Briefing journalists in Abuja, Akhigbe explained that council meetings are called by the President and not the registrar, saying that there is no council in place presently “as the 6th council’s tenure expired on 10th October, 2014”, waiting for President Goodluck Jonathan to reconstituted the council. 

 The NIS President, who appealed to President Jonathan to reconstitute the Surveyors’ Council, noted that a list of membership of the council is already before the president, stressing that the move would “help stem the desire of overzealous civil servants attempting to constitute itself into illegal council”.

 According to Akhigbe,  “When information reached NIS about four (4) weeks ago that the Registrar was planning to summon a Council meeting to discuss the investiture of surveyors and secure an extension of his tenure which would end in February, 2015, having served two tenures of three (3) years each, in my capacity as the President of NIS called the registrar to draw his attention to the fact that the 6th council’s tenure expired on 10th October, 2014 and that the president Goodluck Jonathan is yet to reconstitute a new council. Unfortunately, he ignored our advice, saying that SURCON does not take instructions from the NIS”.

  He said, “Consequently, I called the past presidents of the Institution and the Surveyor General of the Federation to prevail on the Registrar not to summon any Council meeting or hold an investiture ceremony which is a function of the Council. We also contacted our lawyers who wrote to him, warning him not to go ahead with his actions because it would be ultravires. 

 Akhigbe who described the actions taken by the Registrar of SURCON as totally unacceptable and against the spirit and provisions of the law setting up SURCON, vowed that NIS will not fold its arms and condone illegalities and assault on the profession of surveying. 

 He said, “Since 1989 when the then Surveyors Registration Council of Nigeria Decree was promulgated we have never seen such an assault on any profession”.

 But while reacting to this development, the Surveyor General of the Federation, Prof Peter Nwilo told The Guardian that: “It does not mean that if the President is not there, nothing can happen. “We have had a situation where for five years, there was no council and we don’t want that kind of situation to happen again. 

 Nwilo accused the NIS President of trying to create a serious division in the profession of Surveying. 

 “If he was in doubt, he would have called me as the Surveyor General of the Federation. I don’t see the need for the Press Conference. It is very unreasonable for us to wash our dirty linen in the public, he would have called us for us to discuss the issue and if there are mistakes, people will accept that there are mistakes. When I saw the advertorials he placed in the Newspapers, I called him and asked him to trade softly in the interest of the profession”. 

 Nwilo referred to the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, CAP 425 adding that according to the law, even the minister can give instructions of general nature. 

 It would be recalled that the profession of Surveying is regulated by the Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON), set up and empowered by CAP 425, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

 Functions of SURCON as contained in Section 4 of the Laws states that, “ No person should practice the profession of surveying in Nigeria, without being registered to do so by SURCON and that SURCON maintains a Register of such professionals, which is updated and published every year.

SURCON is made up of 39 statutory members and 20 non-statutory members.

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