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Comptroller N. P. S. v. Adekanye (No. 1)

COMPTROLLER NIGERIAN PRISONS SERVICES

DEPUTY CONTROLLER, IKOYI PRISON

ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION

V

DR. FEMI ADEKANYE

USMAN ABUBAKAR

IFEANYI ARTHUR

R. K. OSAYAMEH

MUFTAU BALOGUN

EYO EFFIOM

SOLOMON ASEMOTA

CHUKA KESHI

IBOOK EYO

KINGSLEY B. EFFIOM

EME EYO

INYANG EFFIOM

MONDAY ODIYE

DR. O. A. FOLORUNSHO

ABUBAKAR GABI

ELENDU C. C.

AGABI JOE I.

ETIM UDO

PHILIP OGUNSANYA

RASHINDI SULAIMAN

BABATUNDE AKINGBAGBE

OLAWALE AFOLABI

BABATUNDE AKINYEMI

EDWIN ERINMWINGBOVO

KINGSLEY IGBOGBO

GODWIN OGBONNA

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

SALIHU 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

SC. 183/1999

FRIDAY, 12TH JULY, 2002

ATTORNEY-GENERAL - Power of to institute criminal proceddings Section 160 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979

ATTORNEY-GENERAL - Power of public prosecution thereof under section 160  of 1979 Constitution - Whether exclusive

ATTORNEY-GENERAL - Prosecution for offences under the Failed Banks Decree - Power of Attorney-General of Federation to authorise any other legal practitioner to so do

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Criminal proceedings - Power of Attorney-General to institute

LEGAL PRACTITIONERS - Counsel - Letter authorising same to appear for client - Confidentiality of - Whether proper for same to be produced in court

LEGAL PRACTITIONERS - Private legal practitioner - Where same appears for Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Central Bank of Nigeria to prosecute offences under Decree 18 of 1994 Presumption that section 24(2) (b) has been complied with

STATUTE - Failed Bank Decree No. 18 1994 - Prosecution for offences thereunder - Whether Attorney-General of Federation can authorise any legal practitioner to so do

Issues:

1.            Whether the Attorney-General’s power of public prosecution under section 160 of the 1979 Constitution is exclusive.

2.            Whether the Attorney-General of Federation can authorise any legal practitioner to prosecute offences under the Failed Banks Decree.

Facts:

The respondents herein who were standing trial for offences under the

Failed Banks Decree instituted Habeas Corpus proceedings praying the High Court of Lagos for their bail due to their inability to meet the draconian condition for bail under the Decree.

The appellants however filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Lagos High Court to entertain the proceedings. The objection was overruled. This led to an appeal by the appellants to the Court of Appeal. At the Court of Appeal the appellants were represented by Fidelis Nwadialo SAN with him, Emeka Njige. The appellants appealed for stay of proceedings at the High Court pending the decision of the appeal which was refused, the respondents’ objection to the appearance of Nwadialo for NDIC on behalf of Attorney-General of the Federation was also refused. Despite the fact that the Court of Appeal had granted an order for stay of proceedings, the High Court Judge went ahead to deliver his ruling that the motion before the Court of Appeal was incompetent. In further proceedings before the Court of Appeal the respondent raised an objection that the learned SAN Fidelis Nwadialo has no locus standi to appear for the Attorney-General of the Federation. This objection was sustained. The appellants therefore appealed to the Supreme Court.