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Okewu vs. F.R.N

ELIJAH AMEH OKEWU

V

THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

COURT OF APPEAL

( LAGOS DIVISION )

PIUS OLAYIWOLA ADEREMI JCA ( Presided )

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD JCA

C. M. CHUKWUMA-ENEH JCA (Read the Lead Judgment) 

CA/L/48/2000

MONDAY, 19TH APRIL, 2004

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Mens rea of offence under section 10(H) National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Decree No. 48 of 1989 (as amended) - Whether comprised in the words “unlawful possession’ or ‘knowingly possessing’ drugs listed thereunder

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Decree No. 48 of 1989 (as amended) section 10(H) Whether an existing law

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - ‘Plea - ‘Guilty’ - Valid plea of Elements of

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Unlawfully being in possession of Indian Hemp contrary to and punishable under section 10(h) NDLEA Decree No. 48 of 1989 - What prosecution must prove

MAXIM - ‘Ejusdem generis’ - Meaning of - When applicable

MAXIM - ‘expressio unius est exclusio alterius’ - Meaning of STATUTE - National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Decree No. 48 of 1989 ( as amended) - Section 10(H) - Whether an existing law

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Ejusdem generis’ - Meaning of - When applicable

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Expressio unius est exclusio alterius’ -

Meaning of

Issues:

1.              Whether the conviction and sentence of appellant is not null and void in view of the fact that the Special (Miscellaneous Offences) Tribunal delivered its judgment after over 3 months from when the appellant first appeared before it.

2.              Whether the appellant was validly charged for any offence created under the N.D.L.E.A. Act.

Facts:

The appellant was arraigned before the Special (Miscellaneous Offences) Tribunal on 11th June, 1997, on a one count charge of unlawful possession of fifty-eight (58) bags containing 408 kilogrammes of Cannabis sativa (Indian Hemp) contrary to and punishable under section 10(H) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Decree No. 48 of 1989. Upon the charge being read and explained to the accused person, he said he understood it and pleaded guilty to it. He also accepted the facts as presented by the prosecution, whereupon the Tribunal found the accused person guilty as charged and convicted him.

The appellant has hereby appealed on the ground that there is no section 10(h) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act 1990 and that having been arraigned under a non-existent law, the charge is a nullity, notwithstanding his plea of guilty which by other factors, suffer from ambiguity.