• Code of Conduct Tribunal vs. Silas
  • 192
  • 2004-02-02
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Code of Conduct Tribunal vs. Silas







IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )




APPEAL - Issue for determination - Where not supported by ground of appeal filed - How court will view

APPEAL - Judgment appealed against - Whether Court of Appeal can exercise jurisdiction to cure any defect therein where no appeal exists against such proceedings

COURT - Appeal Court - Whether can exercise jurisdiction to cure any defect in the judgment appealed against where no appeal exists against such proceedings

COURT - Upper Area Court - Whether possesses jurisdiction to punish summarily

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Notice of preliminary objection Hearing date fixed therefor - Absence of respondent and his counsel from court - Consequent inability to move objection Effect

STATUTE - Criminal Procedure (Punishable on summary Conviction) Order of 1986 - Item 8 on the schedule thereof - Effect of on the schedule to the Criminal Procedure (Punishable on summary Conviction) Order, 1966


Whether the Upper Area Court Gwagwalada has no jurisdiction to embark on a summary criminal trial.


The appellant was the complainant before the Upper Area Court of the Federal Capital Territory, holden at Gwagwalada. The complaint against the respondent, as accused, was hinged on cheating contrary to section 320 of the Penal Code. It was the complainant’s case that the accused/respondent had collected the sum of N347,366.40k (three hundred and forty-seven thousand, three hundred and sixty-six naira, forty kobo ostensibly for repair work on a vehicle belonging to the complainant.

The accused/respondent admitted collecting the monies under the circumstances complained of and pleaded for a period of 2 weeks in order to refund same. This plea was granted by the court. One month afterwards, the complainant intimated the court that the accused/respondent had failed to fulfil his obligations. The accused/respondent was thereafter found guilty under section 314 of the Penal Code.

About 3 weeks after the above judgment, representative of the appellant prayed the trial court to enforce the judgment. Relying on order 18(1)  of the Area Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1971, the trial Judge granted that prayer. Respondent still pleaded for more time, as he was looking for money to pay. The representative to the appellant quickly pointed out to the trial court that the respondent had a grinding machine at his home town Andaha in Nassarawa State. He also had electronics and a house under construction at Gwagwalada. Respondent admitted that he had electronics and a house but the grinding machine did not belong to him. At the end, the said house was attached, valued and sold to another person at the price of N250,000.00 pursuant to Order 19(7), (8) and (9) of those Rules. Earlier on the accused made a part-payment of N50,000.00 to the court. After deducting some expenses incurred by court staff in transportation and advertisement of the auction on the said house a net balance of N297,650.00 was paid to the appellant remaining N54,716.40k out of the total amount claimed by the appellant.

One of the parties being dissatisfied with the foregoing, sought and obtained the leave of the High Court of Justice FCT Abuja (appellate jurisdiction) to file an appeal against the judgment of the lower court. However, the records before the Court of Appeal did not contain the motion nor any of the affidavits, whether in support or counter. The appellate High Court also failed to indicate the identity of the applicant. Furthermore, the High Court was moved via a motion to join the purchaser of the house auctioned but refused the application, preferring however to proceed to the hearing of the appeal. Whereupon it held that the trial Upper Area Court had no jurisdiction to embark on a summary criminal trial as it did in the case on hand and the defendant did not get justice and fairness from the decision of the trial Upper Area Court. It quashed the conviction of the respondent and set aside both the judgment and order for refund of money made under section 78 of the Penal Code. It ordered for a trial by a Magistrate Court.

Dissatisfied, the plaintiff/appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.