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Ogidi vs. State

CYRIACUS OGIDI

AUGUSTINE AWUZIE

PAUL UZOECHI

CHUKWUDI OGIDI

V

THE STATE

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

MUHAMMADU LAWAL UWAIS CJN ( Presided )

IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI JSC

ALOYSIUS IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU JSC

SAMSON ODEMWINGIE UWAIFO JSC

AKINTOLA OLUFEMI EJIWUNMI JSC

IGNATIUS CHUKWUDI PATS-ACHOLONU JSC

GEORGE ADESOLA OGUNTADE JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SC.203/2003

FRIDAY, 14TH JANUARY, 2005

APPEAL - Supreme Court - Issues framed by parties before Supreme Court - Bindingness of on parties

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria,

1999 -  Non compliance therewith in criminal trials - Effect of

COURT - Circumstantial evidence - Approach of when relying upon

COURT - Issues framed by parties in the Supreme Court - Bindingness of on parties

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Circumstantial evidence - Weight of to support a conviction

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 section 36(7) - Non compliance therewith Effect of on trial

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Guilt of accused in criminal trials - Burden on prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Lying - Whether proof of guilt of accused person

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Circumstantial evidence Approach of court when relying upon

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Issues framed by parties in the Supreme Court - Bindingness of on parties

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Record of proceedings - Meaning, nature and function of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE -Record of proceedings - Party challenging the validity thereof - What he must do

STATUTE - Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 - Non compliance therewith in criminal trials - Effect of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Shall’ in section 36(7), Constitution, 1999 -  Meaning of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Shall’ in ordinary usage - Purport of

Issues:

1.              Whether the 1st appellant’s fundamental right under section 36(7)  of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999  was violated in this case and if so, did such violation not render the entire trial and conviction of the 1st appellant unconstitutional, null and void.

2.              Whether there was cogent, convincing and satisfactory evidence of proper identification of the 1st appellant as one of the armed robbers that committed the offence of armed robbery in the dwelling house of Innocent Nnakaihe as stated in the information.

3.              Whether the particulars of the offence stated in the charge and the essential ingredients of the offence of armed robbery were proved beyond reasonable doubt to justify the conviction

of the 1st appellant for armed robbery

4.              Whether the conviction of the 1st appellant relying on the provisions of section 149(a) of the Evidence Act, Cap. 112, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria was right

Facts:

The appellants were arraigned before the Owerri High Court of Imo State on an information for the offence of armed robbery, contrary to section 1(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap 398 , Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990. At the trial, the charge was read to the accused persons in the Igbo language which the accused persons understand and they all pleaded not guilty. Though PW1, PW2, the appellants themselves and DW5, the only witness of the 1st appellant testified in Igbo language, there was nothing on the record of proceedings to show that there was an interpreter in court or that the evidence of the appellants and DW5 was interpreted to the court in English language. The court in its judgment found each of the appellants guilty of the offence and sentenced them to death.

On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the court by a majority decision dismissed the appellants’ appeal but Ikongbeh JCA in his minority decision dismissed the appeal of the 1st appellant while allowing that of the 2nd - 4th appellants.

Dissatisfied still, the appellants have brought a further appeal before the Supreme Court. The bone of contention is whether the 1st appellant’s fundamental right under section 36(7) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 was violated and the effect of such violation on the trial and conviction of the 1st appellant.

Section 36(7) of the Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides thus:

“(7) When any person is tried for any criminal offence, the court or tribunal shall keep a record of the proceedings and the accused person or any person authorised by him in that behalf shall be entitled to obtain copies of the judgment in the case within seven days of the conclusion of the case.”