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Patil v. F. R. N.

AJAY PATIL

V

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

COURT OF APPEAL

( LAGOS DIVISION )

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE JCA ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment )

SAMUEL CHUKWUDUMEBI OSEJI JCA

ABIMBOLA OSARUGUE OBASEKI-ADEJUMO JCA

CA/L/128/09

FRIDAY, 5 DECEMBER 2014

APPEAL - Omnibus ground of appeal - What entails - Distinction between in civil and criminal appeals

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Verdict reached without evidence -  Impropriety of allowing same to stand

JUDGE - Transfer of cases within court - Chief Judge - Duty of in respect of - Purpose thereof - Sections 22 and 45 of the Federal High Court Act considered

JURISDICTION - Issue of - Propriety of raising at any stage of proceedings

JURISDICTION - Meaning of - Substantive and territorial jurisdiction -  Meaning thereof and whether the Federal High Court is vested with right to inherit the powers of the Failed Bank Tribunal under the Failed Bank Decree No. 18 of 1994 upon its abrogation Section 1(1)(a) and (d) of the Failed Banks Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1994 considered

JURISDICTION - Territorial jurisdiction - Issue of - Impropriety of equating with procedural jurisdiction and impossibility of waiver of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Rules of court - Purport of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Transfer of cases within court - Chief Judge - Duty of - Purpose thereof - Sections 22 and 45 of the Federal High Court Act considered

STATUTE - Failed Banks Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1994 -  Federal High Court - Whether vested with right to inherit the powers of the Failed Banks Tribunal under the Failed Bank Decree No. 18 of 1994 upon its abrogation

STATUTE - Federal High Court Act, sections 22 and 45 thereof - Duty of Chief Judge to transfer cases within court - Purpose of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Bank’ - Meaning of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Bank credit’ - Meaning of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Enactment’ and ‘statute’ - Meaning of

Issues:

  1. Whether the honourable trial court had jurisdiction over the case of the appellant or have jurisdiction to try offences committed under the Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
  2. Whether the offence of stealing is established against the appellant by virtue of exhibit 8.
  3. Whether there is any substantial evidence upon which the offence of conspiracy had been proved.
  4. Whether the judgment is not against the evidence.

Facts:

The appellant and five others were arraigned before the Failed Banks Tribunal in Abuja in 1999 and charged with the offences of conspiracy, theft of N87,732,887.26 (eighty-seven million, seven hundred and thirtytwo thousand, eight hundred and eighty-seven naira, twenty-six kobo), property of Trans International Bank and obtaining credit in that sum by means of cheques, which were dishonoured when presented on grounds of insufficient funds standing to the credit of the drawers. Upon the emergence of a civilian government in 1999 and particularly because of the amendment of the Failed Bank Decree to Failed Bank Tribunal ( Consequential Amendment) Decree No. 62 of 1999, all proceedings pending before that court were transferred to the Federal High Court. The matter was thereafter transferred to the Federal High Court Abuja and was shortly thereafter transferred to Federal High Court, Ilorin. The charge was amended at the instance of the respondent and the names of the 3rd and 4th accused were subsequently deleted. The 1st accused person who pleaded guilty to the charge was sentenced to two years imprisonment. The appellant however raised a preliminary objection on grounds amongst others; that the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the matter as the case was strictly a commercial transaction between customer and bank; and that the element of the offence commenced and ended in Lagos; that the Federal High Court by virtue of section 251(1)(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, has no jurisdiction to entertain same, as it is the Lagos State High Court that could entertain same. The trial court dismissed the application. The appellant sought for and obtained the leave of court to appeal against the ruling. The appellant further filed a stay of proceedings. The trial court refused the application for stay. The matter proceeded to trial. The trial judge was however transferred to Benin, where the matter having come up on three occasions without any representation, was sent back to Ilorin, before it was finally transferred to Lagos.

Upon conclusion of trial, the trial court held in favour of the respondent and being dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.