Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

A PERSON CAN ONLY BE CHARGED FOR A LAW THAT EXISTS

Dictum

An accused person charged for an offence can only be charged under the law that creates the offence. Such a law must be in force at the time the offence was committed. There is no provision in our Constitution to charge an accused person under a law that was not in existence at the time the conduct complained of manifested, or to create an offence to crirnimalise a conduct after the act. A trial conducted under a law that has been repealed, no matter how well conducted and decided is a nullity. See Ogbomor v. State (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt.2) p.223.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Nwankwoala v FRN (2018) – SC.783/2015

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

A TRIAL BY A COURT IS THE ONLY PERMITTED WAY TO PROVE GUILT – EXCLUSIVE TO THE COURT

ACTION CONGRESS v INEC (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) 220 at 259 – 260, as follows: “The disqualification in Section 137(1) clearly involves a deprivation of right and a presumption of guilt for embezzlement or fraud in derogation of the safeguards in Section 36(1) and (5) of the Constitution. The trial and conviction by a Court is the only constitutionally permitted way to prove guilt and therefore the only ground for the imposition of criminal punishment or penalty for the criminal offences of embezzlement or fraud. Clearly, imposition of the penalty of disqualification for embezzlement or fraud solely on the basis of an indictment for those offences by an Administrative Panel of Enquiry implies a presumption of guilt, contrary to Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, 1999, whereas, conviction for offences and imposition of penalties and punishments are matters appertaining exclusively to judicial power.” See also on this: AMAECHI v INEC & ORS (2008) LPELR-446(SC) at pages 49-51, paras. E F; OMOWAIYE v A.G. OF EKITI STATE & ANOR (2010) LPELR-4779(CA) at pages 28 – 28, paras. A F, per Nweze, JCA (as he then was); and ABDULKARIM & ORS v SHINKAFI & ORS (2008) LPELR 3555(CA) at pages 24 32, paras. A C.

Was this dictum helpful?

A LEGISLATIVE HOUSE CANNOT TRY AN OFFENCE

Under section 32 of the Cap. 208 above, if the 1st defendant was of the view that the plaintiff had committed an offence under section 24 above, all it could do was to give information in writing through its speaker to the Attorney-General of the Federation so that the plaintiff could be prosecuted. Having determined that the plaintiff had committed an offence against it, the duty which the law imposes on the 1st defendant was clear. There was nothing left to it or its committee to further investigate, once a determination was made that an offence had been committed.

– Oguntade, JCA. El-Rufai v. House of Representatives (2003)

Was this dictum helpful?

FOR CONVICTION FOR A LESSER OFFENCE, THE LESSER OFFENCE MUST HAVE SOME OF THE PARTICULARS OF THE GREATER OFFENCE

From TORHANBA V. POLICE (1956) NRNLR at 94 through to SHOYMBO V. STATE (1974) 10 SC 91, OYEDIRAN V. REPUBLIC (1967) NMLR 122, OKOBI V. STATE (supra) and thence to JOHN NWACHUKWU V. STATE (1986) LPELR – 2085 (SC), the Court persisted on the import of the procedure it propounded under Section 179 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act. In all these cases the Court insists that “the lesser offence” Section 179 allows a Court to convict an accused rather than the greater offence he was formally charged for is a combination of some of the several particulars of the offence charged. The ‘operative’ word is “lesser” and not “another” offence. To justify the conviction of the accused for the lesser offence he must be seen to have had notice for the lesser offence by virtue of the notice of the greater offence he was given by the formal charge. The evidence on which the accused is convicted though short of proving the greater offence, it is such that it establishes the lesser offence. See OLUMIDE SEGUN V. THE STATE (2018) LPELR – 44693 (SC) and SALIU V. STATE (2018) LPELR – 44060 (SC).

— M.D. Muhammad, JSC. Onukwube v. State (2020) – SC.1214C/2018

Was this dictum helpful?

FOR SENTENCE OF AN OFFENCE THERE MUST BE A CONCURRENCE OF THE ACTUS REUS & MENS REA

It is only for the sake of emphasis that I would want to add that it is elementary in criminal trial that before an accused person is asked to undergo any sort of sentence, there must be a finding by the trial court on the concurrence-of the two main elements of any crime that is the actus reus and the mens rea. Actus reus is taken to be the wrongful deed that comprises the physical components of a crime and that generally must be coupled with mens rea. Mens rea is the criminal intent or guilty mind of the accused. For the prosecution to establish a criminal act against an accused person, it must go beyond establishing the commission of the unlawful criminal act by the accused but must establish that the accused has the correct legal (criminal) mind of committing the act. The two must co-exist whether explicitly or by necessary implication.

— I.T. Muhammad, JSC. Njoku v. The State (2012)

Was this dictum helpful?

ADMISSION OF AN OFFENCE MAY AMOUNT TO SUFFICIENT CORROBORATION

Admission of an offence by an accused person to other persons may amount to sufficient corroboration in law. So in R. v. Francis Kufi (1960) WNLR 1, the accused was charged with indecent assault against a young girl of 10 years. It was held, and rightly in my view, that the admission of the offence by the accused to the father of the girl was sufficient corroboration in law.

— Iguh, JSC. Okon Iko v State (2001) – SC.177/2001

Was this dictum helpful?