- C.O.P. v. Buhari
- Where forgiveness advocated,Mitigation pleas,Relevance of public opinion
- ₦ 200
C.O.P. v. Buhari
COMMISSIONER OF POLICE
ALHAJI SALISU IBRAHIM BUHARI
HIS WORSHIP ALHAJI M. M. KOLO,
3RD AUGUST, 1999
COURT - Decision - Public opinion - How it affects decisions of courts
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Sentencing - Allocutus - Where forgiveness advocated - Consideration of as pertains to compoundable and non-compoundable offences - Appendix A, Penal Code
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Sentencing - Mitigation pleas - Public sympathy for accused - Judicial Notice of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Criminal justice - Administration of - Relevance of public opinion thereto
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Sentencing - Mandatory imprisonment - Power of Court to impose option of fine - Section 23, Criminal Procedure Code
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Sentencing - Mitigating factors Accused admitting offence without wasting the time of Court First offender status and plea of guilty to the offence - Conduct and demeanour of convict throughout trial - Consideration of
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Sentencing - Trial under section 157 , Criminal Procedure Code - Maximum sentence applicable
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Sentencing - Where accused admits offence - Public opinion - Relevance of to decision of Court JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Decision - Public opinion - Relevance of to the decision of Court
- Whether the accused tried summarily under section 157, Criminal Procedure Code and convicted for the offences of forgery and false declaration ought to be discharged on account of public sympathy to the convict?
- Whether the Court has power to impose an option of fine in place of the mandatory sentence of imprisonment and fine.
The accused was shortly before his arraignment on Wednesday, 28th day of July, 1999, an elected legislator of the National Assembly, holding office as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. His travails began when THE NEWS, a weekly Magazine based in Lagos, in its 19th July edition, boldly alleged that the accused had doctored his resume with forged educational results and certificates including an NYSC discharged certificate and a University degree appearing to issue from the University of Toronto, Canada, and that the accused made a false declaration of age by which his youthful age of 29 was bloated to 36 - all in a bid to meet the statutory qualifications for the elective office he vied for and even stand taller than his peers in the House of Representatives. The accused, not unexpectedly, put up a flat denial of all allegations of forgery and false declaration of age levelled against him, and even instituted a law suit against THE NEWS for defamation. The allegations, denials and fact of the law suit fully engaged the attention of general public. The University of Toronto, Canada, quickly responded to inquiries and firmly stated that the accused’s name did not exist in all their records of students of the University. In the face of overwhelming public pressure, the accused capitulated and made a public confession of the allegations of forgery and false declaration of age. He withdrew his membership of the National Assembly, and made a public apology in the following words:
“I apologise to the nation. I apologise to my family and friends for all the distress I have caused them. Everything in life is for a purpose and my prayer is that my humiliation will illustrate that in our democracy, nobody, no matter how highly placed, will be above the law. As I look up from the ground following my fall from grace, I solemnly ask for forgiveness.”
Subsequently, he was arrested and arraigned before a Chief Magistrate in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory on a First Information Report (FIR) of forgery and false declaration.
When the information was read and explained to the accused, he admitted the offences against him. Consequently, he was tried summarily under section 157 Criminal Procedure Code and convicted. The defence Counsel joined by four other Counsel appearing as amicus curiae made
“voluminous” pleas for mitigation of sentence which the prosecution did not oppose. The Magistrate thereafter adjourned the proceedings to the 3rd of August, 1999 to enable him consider the appropriate sentence for the accused under the circumstance. In the interim, the accused was allowed on bail in the sum of N20,000,000.00 with one surety in like sum. It is material to reproduce the relevant provisions of the law under which the accused was tried, convicted and sentenced.
Certain provisions of the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code duly considered are reproduced below.
Sections 158, 164, 364 and 366 of the Penal Code are stated hereunder:
“158 (1) Whoever intentionally gives false evidence in any stage of a judicial proceedings or fabricates false evidence for the purpose of its being used in any stage of a judicial proceedings shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years and shall also be liable to fine.
(2) Whoever intentionally gives or fabricates false evidence in any other case, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.
“164 (1) Whoever in a declaration or subscribed by him, which
declaration a court of justice or a public officer or other person is bound or authorised by law to receive as evidence of a fact, makes a statement, which is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, touching a point material to the object for which the declaration is made or used, shall be punished in the same manner as if he gave false evidence.
(2) Whoever uses or attempts to use as true a declaration knowing the same to be false in a material point, shall be punished in the same manner as if he gave false evidence.
“364 Whoever commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years or with fine or with both.
“366 Whoever fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any document which he knows or has reason to believe to be a forged document, shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such document.
Sections 23 and 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act Cap 491 are stated below:
“23 (1) Where a court has authority under a written law to impose imprisonment for an offence and has not specific authority to impose a fine for that offence the court may in its discretion impose a fine in lieu of imprisonment.
- The amount of the fine shall not be in excess of the power of the court to impose fines under sections 13 to 18 of this Code.
- No term of imprisonment imposed in default of payment of fine shall exceed the maximum fixed in relation to the amount of the fine by section 74 of the Penal Code.
- In no case shall a term of imprisonment imposed in default of payment of a fine exceed the maximum term authorised as punishment for the offence by the written law.
- The provisions of this section shall not apply in a case where a written law provides a minimum period of imprisonment to be imposed for the commission of an offence.
“157(1) If the accused admits that he has committed the offence of which he is accused, his admission shall be recorded as nearly as possible in the words used by him and if he shows no sufficient cause why he should not be convicted the court may convict him accordingly, and in that case it shall not be necessary to frame a formal charge.
- The President may by order specify the maximum sentence of imprisonment or the maximum fine which any grade or class of court may impose on a conviction under section.
No court shall exercise a power under subsection (1) of this section unless an order under subsection (2) of this section has been made in respect of that grade or class of court.