BABANGIDA v FRN

BABANGIDA v FRN


IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
IN THE ILORIN JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ILORIN

ON FRIDAY, 5TH MAY, 2017


Appeal No: CA/IL/C.43/2016
CITATION:

Before Their Lordships:

MOJEED ADEKUNLE OWOADE, JCA

HAMMA AKAWU BARKA, JCA

BOLOUKUROMO MOSES UGO, JCA


BETWEEN

USMAN BABANGIDA

(APPELLANT)

AND

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

(RESPONDENT)


PRONOUNCEMENTS


A. CRIMINAL LAW
1. Summary Trial – Meaning of summary trial

What summary trial entails

“In relation to summary trials, Section 33(2) of the Federal High Court Act Cap F12, LFN 2004 provides:
“Notwithstanding the generality of Sub-Section (1) of this Section, all criminal causes or matters before this Court shall be tried summarily”.
The purport of summary trials is best explained by the provision of Section 277 of the Criminal Procedure Act which provides for procedure of summary trials.

a) To all trials in the High Court other than on information; and

b) To all trials in the High Court in respect of offence for which it is provided that a trial can be heard in the High Court otherwise than on information and for which no special procedure is provided; and

c) ……

d) ……”

Per OWOADE, JCA read in context

2. Plea of Guilt – Steps to be taken by the court where the accused pleads guilty

Procedure to be followed by the court where an accused person pleads guilty to the charge

“Furthermore, Sections 274 and 356 of the ACJA 2015 provide for the special procedures to be followed when as in the instance case, a defendant pleads guilty to an offence.
“Section 274(1) where a defendant pleads guilty to an offence with which he is charged, the Court shall:
a) Record his plea as nearly as possible.

b) Invite the prosecution to state the fact of the case; and

c) Enquire from the defendant whether his plea of guilty is to the fact as stated by the prosecution.
2. Where the Court is satisfied that the defendant intends to admit the truth of all the essential elements of the offence for which he has pleaded guilty, the Court shall convict and sentence him…

The above provision is buttressed by Section 356(2) of the same ACJA 2015 that where the defendant pleads guilty and the Court is satisfied that he intends to admit the offence and shows no cause or no sufficient cause why sentence should not be passed, the Court shall proceed to sentence.” Per OWOADE, JCA read in context

3. Plea of Guilt – Consequence of a plea of guilt by the accused

Effect of a plea of guilt by an accused

“My Lords, the main complaint of the Appellant on Issue One is what he termed the worthlessness of Exhibit G2 – the English version of his confessional statement as a basis for conviction for the offence charged.

The answer to the Appellant’s complaint would be better appreciated if one realized that the Appellant’s plea of guilt has superceded all forms of procedural hurdles including the admissibility and consequences of admissibility of Exhibit G2. The truth as pointed out by the learned Counsel for the Respondent is that a plea of guilt is superior in the hierarchy of evidence and evidential value to the testimony of an eye witness and also an extra – judicial statement such as Exhibit G2 itself.

The simple demonstration for this legal truism is that while a confession is defined under Section 28 of the Evidence Act 2011 as “…an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime, stating or suggesting the inference that he committed the crime”.

A plea of guilty is in fact an admission of the totality of the ingredients (actus Reus + Mens Rea) of the offence charged. A plea of guilty unlike a confession does not just suggest an inference but a total excuse of any burden that could have been placed on the prosecution to prove the charge.

The 8th Edition of the Black’s Law Dictionary, Page 727 defines the word “Guilty” as the mantra in criminal jurisprudence which means “a plea of a criminal defendant who does not contest the charge against him”.

A plea of Guilty is lack of contest, synonymous with a total surrender to sentence by the trial Court. This fact was appreciated by Niki Tobi, JSC (of blessed memory) speaking for the Supreme Court in the case of: SAMUEL AYO OMOJU V. F.R.N. (2008) 11 MJSC 156 AT 174 held that:

“An accused person who pleaded guilty to an offence is not entitled to hearing and so the issue of fairness or unfairness of hearing is neither here nor there. In other words, by the entry of a plea of Guilty, hearing is foreclosed as the next and last procedural step of the trial Judge is to convict and pass the appropriate sentence”.

The learned Jurist continued at Page 175 of the Report to elaborate on the effect of the plea of Guilty as follows:-
“The law is elementary that if an accused person pleads guilty, the burden of proof placed on the prosecution becomes light, like a feather of an ostrich, it’s no longer remains the superlative and compelling burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt. After all, the guilty plea has considerably shortened the distance and brought in some proximity between the offence and the mens rea or actus reus of the accused as the case may be. That makes it easier to locate causation or causa sine qua non”. Per OWOADE, JCA read in context

4. Plea of Guilt – Whether the Appellant can argue that he was wrongly convicted after pleading guilty

Effect of a plea of guilt by an accused

“The appellant pleaded guilty to the charges at the lower Court thereby convicting himself, so to speak. It is not appellant’s complaint here that he did not understand what he was pleading guilty to. With his plea of guilty, the Court’s duty was to proceed to pass sentence on him, as it actually did: See Omoju v. F.R.N. (2008) ALL FWLR (Pt. 415) 1656 at 1674 (S.C); Torr v. N.P.S.W. (2011) ALL FWLR (Pt.601) 1388 at 1406 (S.C).

Having pleaded guilty to the charge, it is no longer open to appellant to argue that he was wrongly convicted.” Per UGO, JCA read in context


LEAD JUDGMENT DELIVERED BY OWOADE, JCA


This is an Appeal against the Judgment of Honourable Justice N. I. EKUNWE of the Federal High Court sitting at Ilorin dated 27th day of January, 2016 in charge No. FHC/IL/17C/2015.

The Appellant was arraigned at the Federal High Court, Ilorin on 13/01/2016 following his arrest on 17/10/2015 with 33 Kilograms suspected substance later tested to be Cannabis Sativa (Indian Hemp).

The Appellant was charged as follows:-

“That you USMAN BABANGIDA, Male, Adult, 32 Years on or about the 17th day of October, 2015, at Inwala Area in Kaiama Local Government Area of Kwara State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, without lawful authority dealt in 33 Kilograms of Cannabis Sativa (otherwise known as Indian Hemp) a drug similar to Cocaine, Heroin, LSD etc., thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 11(C) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

The charge was read, interpreted and explained to the Appellant whereafter he pleaded Guilty to it. On 27th day of January, 2016, the prosecution prayed the Court to present the facts and called PW1 – AHMED A. SULEIMAN (NDLEA Kwara State Command – Exhibit Officer) who tendered documents/Exhibits in support of the prosecution’s case.

The documents/Exhibits tendered by the prosecution are as follows:-

i. Statement of the Defendant recorded in Hausa language and the translation into English language.

ii. Packing of Substance Form.

iii. Certificate of Test Analysis.

iv. Request for Scientific Aid Form.

v. Drug Analysis Report.

vi. Brown sealed envelope that contained the evidence pouch which in turn contained the sample of the Analyzed drug.

vii. Bulk of the Indian hemp recovered from the Defendant.

The Appellant and his Counsel did not object to the admissibility of the documents tendered as Exhibits. The trial Court admitted them in evidence as Exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F, G1, G2 and H1 – H4.

The Court then found the Appellant guilty as charged and convicted him accordingly. After listening to the Appellant’s allocutus, the learned trial Judge, sentenced the Appellant to a term of eight (8) years imprisonment starting from 17th day of October, 2015, when the Appellant was arrested.

Dissatisfied with the Judgment, the Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal containing two Grounds of Appeal in this Court on 26/03/2016. The relevant Briefs of Argument for this Appeal are:-
A. Appellant’s Brief of Argument dated and filed on 28th July, 2016 – settled by Ahmed Akanbi Esq.

B. Respondent’s Brief of Argument filed on 08/11/2016 but deemed filed on 22/11/2016 – settled by M. O. Adeleye (Mrs.) Directorate of Prosecution and Legal Services, NDLEA.

C. Appellant’s Reply Brief dated 18/11/2016, filed on 21/11/2016 and deemed filed on 22/11/2016 – settled by Ahmed Akanbi Esq.

Learned Counsel for the Appellant nominated two Issues for determination as follows:-

I. Whether the trial Court rightly convicted and sentenced the Appellant considering the fact that the confessional statement alleged to be that of the accused (Appellant) was unsigned.

II. Whether non-compliance with Section 308 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 by the trial Judge vitiates the entire proceedings.

Learned Counsel for the Respondent similarly formulated two Issues for determination of this Appeal. They are:-

I. Whether the trial Court rightly convicted and sentenced the Appellant considering the fact that the English translation of his confessional statement (Exhibit G2) was unsigned.

II. Whether non-compliance with Section 308 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 by the trial Judge vitiates the entire proceedings.

Learned Counsel for the Appellant submitted on Issue One that the learned trial Judge erred in law when he convicted and sentenced the Appellant for the offence of drug trafficking based on an unsigned confessional statement alleged to be that of the Appellant.

He submitted that it is clear from Pages 31 to 40 of the Record of Appeal that the statement of the Appellant was written in both Hausa and English languages. That the Appellant thumb printed the Hausa version, however, the English version was not thumb-printed or signed by the Appellant.

He referred to the case of ISHA V. STATE (2010)16 NWLR (PT. 1218) 132 to say that the Courts are enjoined to carefully scrutinize and microscopically examine evidence before them. And, that if the trial Court had examined the English version of the Appellant’s confessional statement, Exhibit G2, it would have observed that Exhibit G2 was not signed.

He further submitted referring to the case of C.O.P. V. UDE (2011)12 NWLR (PT. 1260) 197 that it is also trite that before a confessional statement can be said to be that of the accused, the accused and the interpreter would be taken to superior Police Officer for the purpose of confirming the voluntariness of the statement. This procedure, Counsel said was not followed in this case.

He submitted that upon observing that the confessional statement was not signed, the trial Court ought to inquire into the veracity of the confessional statement by applying the six-way test to determine the veracity of a confessional statement as reiterated in the case of SHANDE VS. STATE ( 5) 1 NWLR (PT. 907) 225.

On another wicket, Appellant’s Counsel referred to the cases of:

OMEGA BANK VS. O. B. C. (2005) 1 SCNJ 150, (2005)8 NWLR (PT. 928) 547; JINADU VS. ESUROMBI-ARO (2009) 9 NWLR (PT. 1145) 55 and GLOBAL SOAPS AND DETERGENT IND. LTD. VS. NAFDAC (2011) ALL FWLR (PT. 599) 1025 AT 1047 and submitted that it is the law that an unsigned document has no evidential value. He added that it is more so in the instant case where Exhibits G and G2 was neither tendered by the Appellant nor the interpreter.

Appellant’s Counsel urged us to hold that the conviction of the Appellant based on Exhibit G2 has occasioned a miscarriage of justice and vitiates the trial.

The pertinent question said Counsel is whether the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt?

On this, he reproduced the provision of Section 11(C) of the NDLEA Act and posited that the ingredients of the offence under Section 11(C) are as follows:-

a. The accused must have been selling or buying the substance.

b. The accused must have exposed or offer to sell the substance; or

c. Dealing with the said substance.

He submitted that the Appellant was not caught selling or buying Exhibits H1, H2, H3 and H4. The Exhibits were found in the house offered to him by Mei Gari to rest for the night. That, the four (4) bags of Indian hemp did not belong to the Appellant. And, that it is surprising how the NDLEA Officer did not investigate the case to find out the whereabouts of Mr. Mei Gari who owns the house but opted to arrest the Appellant after he had told the Officer the identity of the owner of the house.

He submitted that the essential ingredients of the offence charged have not been proved by the prosecutors beyond reasonable doubt as enjoined by law. The only evidence the prosecution relied on is Exhibit G2 – unsigned confessional statement of the Appellant and Exhibits H1, H2, H3 and H4 which does not belong to Appellant and was equally found in the house of somebody else. He reiterated that Exhibit G2 did not qualify as a confessional statement worthy of being relied upon by the trial Court to convict the Appellant.

He submitted that it is settled law that it is only when a confessional statement is proven to be proper that same will be sufficient to sustain a conviction. Thus a confessional statement must be proven to be made voluntarily, direct and unequivocal.

He submitted that it is also trite law that once there is any form of doubt about the guilt of the accused, such doubt should be resolved in favour of the accused. He referred to the case of NAMSOH V. STATE (1993) 5 NWLR (PT. 292) 129 and submitted that once such doubt is resolved in favour of the accused, the Court has no choice but to discharge and acquit the accused for the offence charged.

He concluded Issue One by submitting that the prosecution has failed to prove the case against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt. He referred to the provision of Section 135(1) of the Evidence Act 2011 and the case of NSOFOR VS. STATE (2004) 18 NWLR (PT. 9 5) 292 AT 314 – 316.

On Issue One, learned Counsel for the Respondent submitted that upon the plea of Guilty by the Appellant, the following actions took place.

1. The Court recorded the plea of the Defendant as nearly as possible.
2. The Court asked the Defendant if he intended to plead guilty and he said YES.
3. The prosecution applied for the facts of the case to be presented and the Court invited the prosecution to proceed.

4. After the presentation of facts the Court enquired from the defence if they have any objection to the facts presented by the prosecution and they said NO.

5. The Court having satisfied that the Defendant intended to admit to his crime and in addition to the facts presented by the prosecution, found the Appellant guilty and convicted him.

Respondent’s Counsel submitted that the above steps as transpired during the trial of the Appellant at the Court below are in total compliance with S.274 (1) (a – c) of ACJA 2015.

The Respondent submitted that it tendered relevant documents and Exhibits to buttress the facts as stated in the charge against the Appellant.

He noted that the defence did not object to the admissibility of – Exhibits A – H1 – H4 which included the confessional statement of the Appellant – Exhibits G1 and G2. Respondent’s Counsel referred to the provision of S.274 (1) & (2) and S.356(2) of ACJA 2015 and submitted that the person to be tried under the Sections as the Appellant, upon his plea of Guilty to any offence with which he was charged, the Court shall record his plea as nearly as possible in the words used by him, if the Court is satisfied that the defendant intended to admit the truth of all the essential ingredients of the offence for which he has pleaded guilty, the Court shall convict and sentence him or make such order as may be necessary, unless there shall appear sufficient reason to the contrary.

Learned Counsel for the Respondent submitted that there was no reason whatsoever shown by the defence to prevent the trial Judge from convicting and sentencing the Appellant.

He contended that neither the Appellant nor his Counsel protested to the Court at any time during the trial that Appellant did not understand the proceeding or that they are objecting to the tendering and/or admissibility of any of the Exhibits particularly Exhibits G1 and G2.

In fact, said Counsel, the Respondent made the job of the prosecution as light as possible by his Guilty plea. That, with his plea of Guilty, the Appellant confirmed the veracity of all evidence adduced by the prosecution.

He submitted that Exhibit G1, which is the Hausa version of the confessional statement, was signed by the Appellant. He added that with the plea of Guilty to the charge in the open Court, the Appellant has rendered Exhibit ‘G2’ to be a ‘valid’ document.

He contended that it is unnecessary for the trial Court to examine the format in which the English version of the confessional statement of the Appellant – Exhibit G2 was obtained when the Appellant has owned up to his crime which confirmed both statements.

Respondent’s Counsel referred to the provision of Section 33(2) of the Federal High Court Act Cap F12 LFN, 2004 on summary trials and submitted that the Appellant argued wrongly that the trial Judge was wrong to have relied on Exhibit G2 without further evidence. That the position of the law by the Appellant is not only tenuous but shows that the Appellant’s Counsel misconstrues the laws and authorities governing the principles of the Plea of Guilty by a Defendant in a criminal trial.

Learned Counsel for the Respondent noted that the Appellant was arguing his Appeal along the line of a proceeding which goes through full scale trial and submitted that with the plea of Guilty the Appellant has surrendered himself to judgment.

He referred to the cases of: OKEWU V. F.R.N. (2012) 9 NWLR (PT. 1395) and TORRI V. NPSN (2011) 13 NWLR (PT. 1264) 365 where the Courts held that in criminal proceeding/trial, objection to any irregularity is at the point of trial, failure which it would be too late on Appeal.

In another vein, Respondent’s Counsel submitted that the plea of Guilty professed in open Court by the Appellant is a verbal confession which is more potent and cognizable than the evidence of an eye witness or even written confession.

He referred on the above to the cases of:

OSENI V. STATE (2012) 5 NWLR (PT. 1293) 351; AROGUNDADE V. STATE (2009) 8 NWLR (PT. 1136) 165

He submitted that the position of the law as entrenched in the provision of Section 274 of ACJA 2015 with respect to where an accused person has pleaded guilty was settled in the case of: SAMUEL AYO OMOJU V. F.R.N. (2008) 11 MJSC 156 AT 174.

He added that the Appellant would still have been convicted any way with or without Exhibits G1 and G2 in view of the plea of guilty and other evidence before the Court.

Counsel referred to the provision of Section 251(1) Evidence Act 2011 and submitted that the Respondent was not under any compulsion to call witnesses to prove the charge against the Appellant.

He urged us to discountenance with all the arguments and submissions of the Appellant’s Counsel as untenable.

There are two fundamental flaws with the submissions of the learned Counsel for the Appellant on Issue One.

The first is his misunderstanding of the difference between a trial on Information or a full trial and a summary trial as it happened in the instant case.

The second which is somewhat related to the first is the Appellant’s Counsel lack of understanding of the effect and/or ramifications of a plea of Guilty by an accused person.

In relation to summary trials, Section 33(2) of the Federal High Court Act Cap F12, LFN 2004 provides:

“Notwithstanding the generality of Sub-Section (1) of this Section, all criminal causes or matters before this Court shall be tried summarily”.

The purport of summary trials is best explained by the provision of Section 277 of the Criminal Procedure Act which provides for procedure of summary trials.

a) To all trials in the High Court other than on information; and

b) To all trials in the High Court in respect of offence for which it is provided that a trial can be heard in the High Court otherwise than on information and for which no special procedure is provided; and

c) ……

d) ……

Furthermore, Sections 274 and 356 of the ACJA 2015 provide for the special procedures to be followed when as in the instance case, a defendant pleads guilty to an offence.

“Section 274(1) where a defendant pleads guilty to an offence with which he is charged, the Court shall:

a) Record his plea as nearly as possible.

b) Invite the prosecution to state the fact of the case; and

c) Enquire from the defendant whether his plea of guilty is to the fact as stated by the prosecution.
2. Where the Court is satisfied that the defendant intends to admit the truth of all the essential elements of the offence for which he has pleaded guilty, the Court shall convict and sentence him…

The above provision is buttressed by Section 356(2) of the same ACJA 2015 that where the defendant pleads guilty and the Court is satisfied that he intends to admit the offence and shows no cause or no sufficient cause why sentence should not be passed, the Court shall proceed to sentence.

A careful perusal of the records in this case truly reveals as pointed out by the learned Counsel for the Respondent not only the fact that the learned trial Judge diligently and painstakingly followed the procedures under Sections 274 and 356(2) of the ACJA 2015 but also that the defence indeed made the work of the prosecution very light in that there was no objection to any form of irregularity or admissibility of Exhibits all through the procedure.

My Lords, the main complaint of the Appellant on Issue One is what he termed the worthlessness of Exhibit G2 – the English version of his confessional statement as a basis for conviction for the offence charged.

The answer to the Appellant’s complaint would be better appreciated if one realized that the Appellant’s plea of guilt has superceded all forms of procedural hurdles including the admissibility and consequences of admissibility of Exhibit G2. The truth as pointed out by the learned Counsel for the Respondent is that a plea of guilt is superior in the hierarchy of evidence and evidential value to the testimony of an eye witness and also an extra – judicial statement such as Exhibit G2 itself.

The simple demonstration for this legal truism is that while a confession is defined under Section 28 of the Evidence Act 2011 as “…an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime, stating or suggesting the inference that he committed the crime”.

A plea of guilty is in fact an admission of the totality of the ingredients (actus Reus + Mens Rea) of the offence charged. A plea of guilty unlike a confession does not just suggest an inference but a total excuse of any burden that could have been placed on the prosecution to prove the charge.

The 8th Edition of the Black’s Law Dictionary, Page 727 defines the word “Guilty” as the mantra in criminal jurisprudence which means “a plea of a criminal defendant who does not contest the charge against him”.

A plea of Guilty is lack of contest, synonymous with a total surrender to sentence by the trial Court. This fact was appreciated by Niki Tobi, JSC (of blessed memory) speaking for the Supreme Court in the case of: SAMUEL AYO OMOJU V. F.R.N. (2008) 11 MJSC 156 AT 174 held that:

“An accused person who pleaded guilty to an offence is not entitled to hearing and so the issue of fairness or unfairness of hearing is neither here nor there. In other words, by the entry of a plea of Guilty, hearing is foreclosed as the next and last procedural step of the trial Judge is to convict and pass the appropriate sentence”.

The learned Jurist continued at Page 175 of the Report to elaborate on the effect of the plea of Guilty as follows:-

“The law is elementary that if an accused person pleads guilty, the burden of proof placed on the prosecution becomes light, like a feather of an ostrich, it’s no longer remains the superlative and compelling burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt. After all, the guilty plea has considerably shortened the distance and brought in some proximity between the offence and the mens rea or actus reus of the accused as the case may be. That makes it easier to locate causation or causa sine qua non”.

It is obvious from the above that by the plea of guilt of the Appellant, the attempt by the learned Counsel for the Appellant to insist on any defect or irregularity on Exhibit G2 has nothing whatsoever to do with the proprietness of the conviction and sentence for the offence charged and the submissions of the learned Counsel for the Appellant on the Issue are non sequitor. Issue One is resolved against the Appellant.

The grievance of the Appellant in respect of Issue Two is that the trial Judge in writing his Judgment acted contrary to Section 308 of the ACJA and also failed to comply with the minimum standard for every judgment as stipulated in the cases of: NWANKWU V. IBETO (2011) 2 NWLR (PART 1231) 228; USIOBAIFO V. USIOBAIFO (2005) 3 NWLR (PT. 913) 665; IBORI V. AGBI (2004) 6 NWLR (PT. 868) 78; UDENGWU V. UZUEGBU (2003) 13 NWLR (PT. 836) 136.

He submitted that such a judgment under the provision of Section 308 must be in writing, must have evaluated the evidence before the Court and must state the reasons for the decision.

He referred to the cases of: ATOYEBI V. GOV. OF OYO STATE (1994) 5 NWLR (PT.344) 290; and KARIBO V. GREND (1992) 3 NWLR (PT. 230) 426 for the proposition that failure to evaluate evidence of witnesses is erroneous and such judgment cannot stand as same would be set aside in the interest of justice.

Appellant’s Counsel also referred to the cases of:STATE V. AIJE (2000) FWLR (PT. 16) 2831; NIGERIAN AIR FORCE V. AMINU KANO (2010) ALL FWLR (PT. 523) 1805 which emphasized that every Court whether Civil or Military must show basis of judgment especially a verdict of guilty.

He added relying on the cases of: AKIBU V. OPALEYE (1974) 11 SC 189; BOARD OF CUSTOMS AND EXCISE V. IBRAHIM BARAU (1982) 10 SC 48 that where a Court fails to give reasons for his decision, the decision will be quashed.

Learned Counsel for the Respondent summed up the entire argument and complaint of the Appellant on Issue Two as follows:-

i. That the Judgment of trial Court which convicted and sentenced the Appellant to 8 years imprisonment on 27/10/2016 did not comply with the provision of S.308 of ACJA, 2015.

ii. That the Judgment of the lower Court must be distinct and must not be merged with the record of proceeding.

iii. That the trial Judge did not evaluate the evidence adduced by PW1.

iv. The trial Court’s Judgment must state reasons upon which decision is based.

Learned Counsel for the Respondent submitted that the entire argument of the Appellant’s Counsel on this issue is wrong and misconceived and does not reflect the position of the trial Court’s Judgment as shown in the record of proceedings.

On the Appellant’s argument that the trial Court’s Judgment did not comply with S.3 8 of ACJA, 2015, Respondent’s Counsel submitted that the Appellant is mistaken, the Judgment in a full trial with that of a summary trial wherein the defendant pleaded guilty.

He further submitted that what the content of Judgment in a criminal trial should be will only be determined by the classification of that Judgment which is in turn determined by the nature of trial whether regular (i.e. full trial) or summary.

He said a trial is regular and full when opportunity is given to the prosecution and defence to state and present evidence to support their respective cases by calling witnesses and tendering Exhibits.

Conversely, said Counsel summary trial is the trial conducted in a summary manner.

He referred to S.31 of the Federal High Court Act. Also, to S.356 (2), S.350 (1) (b) ACJA 2015. Respondent’s Counsel submitted that S.308 ACJA 2015 is not applicable to cases which undergo summary trial like the instant case where the Appellant has pleaded guilty before the trial Court.

That S.308 ACJA is only applicable to cases where full trial has taken place. Consequently, said Counsel, the Judgment in a summary trial entails a brief statement of reasons in support of findings, particularly where a defendant pleaded guilty.

He referred to the case ofJOHN TIMOTHY V. F.R.N. (2012) LPELR – 20392 and submitted that in a summary trial where the defendant pleaded guilty to the charge, the provisions of S.2 4 (1) (2) and S.356 (2) of ACJA 2015 and not S.308 of ACJA shall be followed by the Court.

Respondent’s Counsel further submitted that Part 31 of ACJA 2015 under which S.308 is included deals with presentation of cases of prosecution and defence in a full criminal trial.

He urged us to discountenance all the arguments and cases cited by the Appellant on application of S.308 of ACJA to this Appeal as greatly misconceived.

The simple answer to Appellant’s Issue Two is that neither the provision of Section 308 of the ACJA nor the authorities referred to on the minimum standards/requirements in writing Judgments are applicable to the facts and circumstances of this Appeal which deal with summary trial of a defendant who has pleaded guilty to the charge.

The intent of the draftsmen of the ACJA in respect of S.308 is quite different from that of S.274 and S.356 (2) of the ACJA.

Indeed, it could be safely said that the procedure envisaged under the provisions of S.274 and 356 (2) of the ACJA excepts the Judge to give a decision rather than writing a Judgment.

The provision of S.274 (2) of the ACJA followed by the Court below in the instant case gives a special statutory backing for the trial Judge to proceed to conviction and sentence after the defendant “has pleaded guilty”.

Incidentally, the above procedure was exactly what played out in the instant case judging from the events recorded on Page 5 of the supplementary record filed in this Court by the learned Counsel for the Appellant which contained a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the signed Judgment of the Court below.

After the prosecution has stated the facts of the case as envisaged under the provision of S.274 (1) (b) of the ACJA through PW1 who tendered document and through whom all the Exhibits were admitted, the Court recorded the following:-

“Mrs. Al-Mustapha – No cross examination Court: – Witness is discharged

Adeleye: – Urges the Court to convict the accused person as per his plea and facts before the Court. Mrs. Al-Mustapha: – No objection. We urge the Court to tender justice with mercy.

Court: – The accused person is hereby convicted as charged.

Allocutus: …”

From the above excerpt from the records, the learned trial Judge based her decision to convict the Appellant on the application made by the prosecution after their presentation of facts where after they urged the Court to convict the Appellant on his plea and facts presented.

The Counsel for the defendant/Appellant did not object to the application by the prosecution, rather she urged that justice be tendered with mercy.

In the circumstances, the procedure under S.274 and 356

(2) of the ACJA followed in the instant case does not contemplate the writing of a formal Judgment as envisaged under S.308 of the ACJA.

Truly, the arguments and submissions of the learned Counsel for the Appellant again on this issue are thoroughly misconceived. Issue Two is also resolved against the Appellant.

Having resolved the two Issues in this Appeal against the Appellant, the Appeal lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed.

The Judgment, conviction and sentence of the Appellant by N. I. EKUNWE, J. in Charge No. FHC/IL/17C/2015 of 27th day of January, 2016 is accordingly affirmed.

BARKA, JCA

I had before now had the advantage of reading in draft the judgment of my Lord MOJEED ADEKUNLE OWOADE JCA/PJ, which has just been delivered. His Lordship has meticulously analyzed and fully dealt with the pertinent issues thrust up in this appeal. I entirely agree with the reasoning and conclusions arrived at in the lead judgment.

Hence the appeal being unmeritorious it is hereby dismissed. The conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant in charge No. FHC/IL/17C/2015 on the 27th of January, 2016, is hereby affirmed.

UGO, JCA

I read in advance the leading judgment delivered by my learned brother MOJEED ADEKUNLE OWOADE J.C.A and I agree completely with his reasoning and conclusion.

The appellant pleaded guilty to the charges at the lower Court thereby convicting himself, so to speak. It is not appellant’s complaint here that he did not understand what he was pleading guilty to. With his plea of guilty, the Court’s duty was to proceed to pass sentence on him, as it actually did:

See Omoju v. F.R.N. (2008) ALL FWLR (Pt. 415) 1656 at 1674 (S.C); Torr v. N.P.S.W. (2011) ALL FWLR (Pt.601) 1388 at 1406 (S.C).

Having pleaded guilty to the charge, it is no longer open to appellant to argue that he was wrongly convicted. His appeal in my view not only lacks merit but amounts to abuse of Court process accordingly, I also dismiss it