BEST LAW REPORT SUBSCRIPTION PRICE!!

  • Abacha v. The State
  • 118
  • 2002-09-02
  • ₦ 200
  • Buy Now

Abacha v. The State

MOHAMMED SANI ABACHA
HAMZA AL-MUSTAPHA
MOHAMMED RABO LAWAL
ALHAJI LATEEF SOFOLAHA
V
THE STATE
SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

S. M. A. BELGORE, JSC (Presided and Read the Lead Judgment)
IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI, JSC
SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC
ALOYSIUS IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU, JSC
AKINTOLA OLUFEMI EJIWUNMI, JSC (Dissented`)
SC. 290/2001
THURSDAY, 11TH JULY, 2002
ARMED FORCES AND THE POLICE - Members thereof carrying gun while going on an operation - Presumption that same is embarking on criminal act - Impropriety of
ATTORNEY-GENERAL - Attorney-General as a prosecutor - Scope of duty of
ATTORNEY-GENERAL - Power of to prosecute offenders - Whether same is exercisable alone by the Attorney General
CASE LAW - Decision in Emeka vs. The State - Principles therein - Whether inappropriate at the present stage of the instant matter
CASE LAW - Principles evolved in Ikomi vs. The State - Differing interpretation and application by Justices of Supreme Court of the principles thereof
COURT - Abuse of court process - Duty of court to prevent - Whether includes the power to safeguard an accused person from oppression
and prejudice as would result if trial is proceeded against him on an information which discloses no offence linking him
COURT - Consent for prosecution of accused person - Whether ‘a clear case on the deposition’ is the only condition the Judge ought to give his consent
COURT - High Courts - Whether precluded from entertaining complaints that relate solely to non-indictable offence
COURT - Judicial power - Purpose of in criminal jurisprudence
COURT - Power of to settle issues between parties - While exercising same - Duty thereon to ensure that genuine issues and controversies are settled between parties in order to avoid persecuting rather than prosecuting an accused person
COURT - Process of court - Need not to use to oppress
COURT - Trial Judge - Application to quash indictment on information brought before same - Duty thereon to attend to same dispassionately and rule thereon
COURT - Trial Judge before whom an indictment is placed - Duty on to look at the proofs of evidence attached to the information in totality and not to pick words out of context
CRIMINAL AND PROCEDURE - Information - Application for laying same - Whether simple letter from the Attorney-General is enough therefor in states of the Federation governed by Criminal Procedure Law Need for the letter to be accompanied by proofs of evidence
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - ‘Prima facie case’ - Meaning of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Abuse of court process - Duty of court to prevent - Whether includes the power to safeguard an accused person from oppression and prejudice as would result if trial is proceeded against him on an information which discloses no offence linking him
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Accessory after an offence - Where charged alone - Condition precedent to trying same
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Accessory after the fact - Who is
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Attorney-General as a prosecutor - Scope of duty of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Charge - Prosecution preferring charge - Whether obliged to decide whether available evidence cogent enough to justify a conviction
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Charges - Every charge on an indictment - Need for to be clear to enable the person to be tried understand the complaint against him
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Circumstantial evidence - Whether available to the prosecution to establish an offence
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Circumstantial evidence adequate to secure conviction - Consideration of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Complaints - Where relate solely to non-indictable offence - Whether High Courts are precluded from entertaining same - Sections 77 and 277 Criminal Procedure Law
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Consent for prosecution of accused person - Whether ‘a clear case on the deposition’ is the only condition the Judge ought to give his consent
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Consent of High Court Judge to preferment of charge under section 340, Criminal Procedure Act What need be considered in granting consent
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Consent of Judge to prefer information - Circumstantial evidence - How fits into prima facie case in an application for consent
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Consent of Judge to prefer information - Evidence, even if weak, which discloses prima facie case - Whether sufficient and valid ground for granting consent Ikomi vs. State considered
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Consent to prefer information Grant of consent by Judge in exercise of his discretionary power When may not be interfered with - When may
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Consent to prefer information Whether may be granted on insufficient evidence
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Conspiracy - Evidence in proof of - Where obtainable - Whether capable of direct proof
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Conviction of accused Circumstantial evidence adequate to secure conviction Consideration of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Criminal Code, section 322 -
Sustaining a charge thereunder - Essential ingredient thereto
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Decision in Emeka vs. The State, Principles therein - Whether inappropriate at the present stage of the instant matter
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Indictable offence - Application for initiation of trial thereon - Condition precedent to granting same - Need for enough particulars and facts in the proofs of evidence sufficiently linking the accused to the offence before indictment is allowed to be tried
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Indictment on information -
Application to quash same brought before the court - Duty on trial Judge to attend thereto dispassionately and rule thereon
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Indictment on information - Where placed before the court - Duty on the trial Judge to look at the proofs of evidence attached to the information in totality and not to pick words out of context
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Indictments - Exercise of court’s discretionary power to allow same - Whether absolute especially in a democratic setting - When appropriate to challenge same
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Information - Offences committed individually by three sets of people - Joinder of same as 4 - counts in a single information - Impropriety of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Information against accused person which discloses no offence with which he is in anyway linked - Power
of court to safeguard same from oppression and prejudice that may result therefrom
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - No case submission - Meaning of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Offence involving mens rea - Where committed by another person other than the accused person - Whether the accused person can be liable therefor
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Offence of felony - Accessory When may be charged therefor
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Preferment of an information Depositions and statements attached to information disclosing an offence - Where accused not linked with offence - Whether accused can nevertheless be put on his trial
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Preferment of charge - Disclosure of offence on the information as primary basis for calling a suspect to enter his trial
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Preliminary investigation - Mere statements attached to an information  - Facts in deposition therein
- Failure of to disclose prima facie case - Effect
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Prima facie - Meaning of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Prosecutor - Where acts as persecutor - Attitude of court thereto
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Remote evidence linking the suspect to crime - Duty of suspect to explain
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Suspicion - Function of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Suspicion - Whether suspicion alone is enough to justify preferring a charge against a person - Need for evidence to link the suspect with the offence - Whether appellants linked with the offence in instant case
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Trial - Accused person - What qualifies him therefor
EVIDENCE - Circumstantial evidence - Whether available to the prosecution to establish an offence
EVIDENCE - Remote evidence linking the suspect to crime - Duty of suspect to explain
JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Dissenting judgment - Criticism of majority judgment therein as tyrannous and a capricious interpretation of settled principles laid down in Ikomi vs. State
JUDICIAL PRECEDENT - Principles evolved in Ikomi vs. The State Differing interpretation and application by Justices of Supreme Court of the principles thereof - General effect of
JUDICIARY - Supreme Court by majority decision allowing a criminal appeal - Majority decision of Supreme Court criticized by dissenting Justice of same court as a “tyranny of the majority in its capricious interpretation of settled principles laid down in Ikomi vs. The State”
WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘No case submission’ - Meaning of
WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Accessory after the fact’ - Meaning of
WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Prima facie’ - Meaning of WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Prima facie case’ - Meaning of
Issues:
1.
Whether the negative preliminary comments by the Court of Appeal on the desirability of the appellant’s recourse to the established procedure for quashing a defective information was correct in law and whether such comments did not foreordain the fate of the appeal regardless of the merits thereof.
2.
Whether the appellant’s right to have a fair hearing in the sense of having the issues raised by him given full and dispassionate consideration by the Court of Appeal was not violated when the court determined the appeal without any consideration of the specific complaint made against the rationes of the Lagos State High Court in coming to the conclusion that the appellant was linked to the offences in the information, regard being had to the standard set by law.
3.
Whether the Court of Appeal was correct in finding as the lower court had done that there were sufficient facts and inferences
in the proof of evidence upon which the appellant could be said ‘prima facie’ to be linked to the offences of conspiracy to murder and murder charged in the said information.
4.
Whether the Court of Appeal was correct in law to have forged a nexus between the appellant’s statement to the police wherein he assisted two of his father’s former employees among many others to resettle themselves and his state of mind when he released his car and security driver on different unrelated occasions to the self-confessed killer of Kudirat Abiola so as to reach the conclusion that he was linked to the offence charged.
5.
Whether the Court of Appeal was correct in law when it affirmed the decision of the Lagos State High Court that it had jurisdiction to try the offence of accessory after the fact of murder as charged herein and that a prima facie case had been made out against the appellant on the twin counts of accessory after the fact of murder, regard being had to the contents of the information and proof of evidence.”
Facts:
The appellant and three others were charged for the murder of late
Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on a four-count charge information at the High Court, Lagos. Whilst the appellant was charged jointly with the other co-accused for conspiracy to commit murder and murder, he was charged alone on two counts of accessory after the fact to murder.
The appellant filed an application pursuant to section 167 and 30(3) of the Criminal Procedure Law and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court to quash the charges against him on the ground that the proofs of evidence do not disclose a prima facie case against him; the entire information is an abuse of process and all the four counts in the statement of offences are prejudicial to his right to fair hearing.
The trial court refused the application on the ground inter alia that any information without a procedural or formal defect cannot be quashed. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the appeal was dismissed. The appellant further appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court considered section 340 of the Criminal Procedure Act.