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Ajisefinni v. Director of Public Prosecution

YEKINNI AJISEFINNI

V

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTION

COURT OF APPEAL

( IBADAN DIVISION )

SUNDAY AKINOLA AKITAN, JCA ( Presided )

MORONKEJI OMOTAYO ONALAJA, JCA

DALHATU ADAMU, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/I/63/99

MONDAY, 8TH APRIL, 2002

APPEAL - Exercise of discretion by trial court - When Court of Appeal will interfere therewith

COURT - Application for adjournment therebefore - Duty on not to refuse same for no just cause

COURT - Court’s discretion - Matters thereof - Need to consider each case or event on its merit

COURT - Discretionary power of to grant adjournment - Duty on court to consider applicant’s reasons while exercising same - Duty on court to have regard to the interest of applicant, the opposing party and the court

COURT - Trial court - Exercise of discretion thereby - When appellate court will interfere therewith

COURT - Trial Court - Need for to balance the requirement for fair hearing with the necessity for speedy trial before refusing or granting request for adjournment

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Accused person in a criminal trial Where denied fair hearing in term with constitutional provision - Effect of on proceedings

FAIR HEARING - Accused person in criminal trial - Where denied fair hearing in term with constitutional provision - Effect

FAIR HEARING - Principle of fair hearing - Importance of in a criminal

trial

FAIR HEARING - Right to fair hearing - Essential attributes of  - Need to ensure that justice is done to both parties

FAIR HEARING - Rule or constitutional provision of - Where breached Effect of on the proceedings

FAIR HEARING - Rule or principle of - Purport thereof - Party failing to avail self of opportunity to be heard - Whether can claim denial of fair hearing

FAIR HEARING - Test for determining whether there has been fair hearing or fair trial  - Need to consider and look into the whole trial court’s proceedings

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Pre-conceived judgment written without hearing or considering the defence of accused person  - Impropriety of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Adjournment - Application therefor Duty on court not to refuse same for no just cause

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Adjournment - Discretionary power of court to grant - Duty on court to consider applicant’s reasons while exercising same - Duty on court to have regard to the interest of applicant, the opposing party and the court

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Adjournment - Grant of  - Who benefits therefrom

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Adjournment - Request for - Need for trial court to balance the requirement for fair hearing with the necessity for speedy trial before refusing or granting same

Issues:

1.            Whether the conduct of proceedings by the learned trial Judge

has not led to a mistrial which vitiates the entire proceedings and whether the proceedings ought not to be set aside for infringing the appellant’s constitutional right to fair hearing.

2.            Whether the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt so as to warrant the conviction of the appellant.

Facts:

The appellant herein was convicted by the Osun State High Court of Justice and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.  He was charged on an information with the charge involving theft of a Toyota Panel Van and its component parts.

During the trial, the appellant made a no-case submission which was overruled by the trial court.  His subsequent appeal to the Court of Appeal against the ruling was dismissed.  The appellant was thereafter called upon to open his defence.  On the day slated for the opening of his defence, the appellant’s counsel sought for an adjournment which was refused by the trial court.  The court, there and then proceeded to deliver its judgment on the same date, convicting the appellant of all the three counts.

Being dissatisfied with his conviction, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.