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

Dictum

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.

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VARIATIONS IN LPDC PANEL MEMBERS AFFECTS ITS’ FINAL DECISION

In Adeigbe & Anor v. Salami Kusimo & Ors (1965) LPELR -25226 (SC) this issue was properly explained by Ademola JSC (as he then was) as follows: “The complaint against a hearing that was not always before the same bench does not pertain to any matter that goes to the jurisdiction of the Court. It is at bottom a complaint that the judgment cannot be satisfactory on the ground that as the persons who gave it had not seen and heard all the witnesses, they could not appraise the evidence as a whole and decide the facts properly. Thus, it is a complaint on the soundness of the judgment itself, and not a complaint that is extrinsic to the adjudication, which is the test to apply when considering a submission on jurisdiction. We are therefore of the opinion that variations in the bench do not make the judgment a nullity; they may make it unsatisfactory, and it may have to be set aside for this reason, but whether they do or not depends on the particular circumstances of the case.”

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WHAT IS A SUMMARY TRIAL IN CRIMINAL CASES?

A summary trial is therefore a short proceeding that does away with the rigours of a full trial, hearing of witnesses or tendering of documents. It is a proceeding that settles a controversy or disposes of a case in a relatively prompt and simple manner. It entails immediate action without following the rigmarole in normal legal procedure. As a matter of procedure, summary trial allows for conviction of an accused person based on his or her admission of guilt to an indictable offence other than capital.

– A. Jauro JSC. Balogun v. FRN (2021)

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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)

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ALL MEMBERS OF PANEL MUST PARTICIPATE IN TRIAL

The LPDC is not an appellate body but an adjudicator of first instance, all the members who delivered the Directions must have participated in the full trial after utilizing the opportunity of seeing the demeanor of witnesses, etc.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Gbenoba v. LPDC (2021)

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STATUTE SETTING TRIAL TIME LIMIT IS VOID

Bello, JSC, (later CJN, now of blessed memory) in the case of Unongo v. Aku and Ors. (1983) 14 NSCC 563 at 577-578 thus – “One of the powers which has always been recognised as inherent in courts has been the right to control their internal proceedings and to so conduct the same that the rights of all suitors before them may be safeguarded in such a manner that all parties are given ample opportunity to prosecute or defend the cases for or against them without let or hinderance. The old adage that delay of justice is denial of justice has the same force as the maxim that hasty or hurried justice is also a denial of justice. On this account any statute which prescribes time limit within which a trial court must try and determine cases or within which an appeal court must hear and determine appeals is inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 4(8) and 6(9)(b) of the Constitution and is therefore void by virtue of Section 1(3) of the Constitution.”

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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)

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