MOHAMMED ABACHA VS. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

AREAS OF LAW: CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-IMMUNITY, COURT- JURISDICTION, INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES

 SUMMARY OF FACT:

The Respondent through the Attorney General of the Federation  instituted  an action at the High court  of the Federal  Capital  Territory, Abuja against the Appellant and one other for charges relating to offence of conspiracy, receiving stolen property dishonestly and concealing stolen money, all pursuant to Sections 97(i), 317 and 319 of the Penal Code. At the trial Court, the Appellant and the other filed several applications before their plea could be taken. One of which bordered on the jurisdiction of the trial Court to entertain the action. The application was dismissed and the trial court affirmed that it had jurisdiction to entertain same.  The Appellant also brought a motion of notice praying for the suspension of consideration of the application and delivery of its ruling thereof by the trial Court and to refer to the Court of Appeal three questions of law which were objected to by the Respondent. The application was granted by the trial court referring the questions to the lower court. The court answered the questions referred to it in the negative against the Appellant. Being dissatisfied the Appellant has brought this appeal before this court.

HELD

Appeal dismissed

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

Whether the Court of Appeal was right when it held that the Forfeiture of Assets etc. (Certain Persons) Decree No. 53 of 1999 did not absolve the appellant Mohammed Abacha and all other persons mentioned in the schedule to the said law from further prosecution in the face of the clearer wordings of the said legislation and the previous interpretation given in identical circumstances to the said law by the State? (Grounds 1, 2 and 3).

Whether the court below can be said to be correct when it rejected the appellant’s submission that the totality of the effect of Decree No. 53 of 1999 amounted to Executive or State promise not to prosecute any of the persons listed in the schedule to the said decree (Appellant inclusive) and that Government was thereby stopped from prosecuting in respect of any issue arising from compliance with the law in issue? (Grounds 4 and 5).

 Whether the court below was right when it held that the office of the late Head of State – General Sani Abacha (deceased) the nature of his government, the privileges and immunity enjoyed by him did not have any bearing on the charges filed by the state against the appellant in this matter to the extent that they are made up of facts and allegations that PRIMA FACIE do not constitute any of the offences alleged? (Grounds 6, 7, 8 and 9)

RATIOS

“DEAL WITH”- MEANING OF THE PHRASE “DEAL WITH”

“The phrase – “deal with” means “to take action on, to be about or concern with” PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

”FORFEITURE”- MEANING OF THE WORD “FORFEITURE”

”The word “forfeiture” means – “the divestiture of property without compensation. The loss of a right, privilege, or property because of a crime, breach of obligation, or neglect of duty”. It follows that, “title in those assets and properties forfeited is instantaneously transferred to another, such as the government”. PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

”INDEMNIFY”- MEANING OF THE WORD ‘INDEMNIFY’

”To indemnify is to reimburse another for a loss suffered because of a third party’s or one’s own act or default. Or to promise to reimburse another for such a loss.” PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C

AGGRIEVED PERSON-WHO IS AN AGGRIEVED PERSON

”To be aggrieved, a person must have legal rights that are adversely affected, having been harmed by an infringement of legal rights. A person aggrieved must be a person who has suffered a legal grievance, a person against whom a decision has been pronounced which has wrongfully deprived him of something or wrongfully refused him something or wrongfully affected his title to something ” PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C

IMMUNITY-WHETHER THE IMMUNITY GRANTED THE PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, GOVERNOR AND DEPUTY   GOVERNOR BY SECTION 308 OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION IS FOR LIFE

”It is true that the Constitution confers absolute immunity on the President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor in respect of civil or criminal matters during their tenure in office. See; Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution.   Indeed, the provision clearly suspends the right of action or the right to judicial relief of an aggrieved party during the tenure of office of the officials mentioned therein. The immunity does not extend beyond the tenure in office, after which the official shall be liable to face trial. ” PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C

IMMUNITY-THE PURPOSE OF IMMUNITY AS GUARANTEED BY SECTION 308 OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION

”The purpose of the immunity is to allow the incumbent President or Head of State, or Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor, a completely free hand and mind to perform his or her duties and responsibilities while in office; to protect the incumbent from harassment. The immunity, however, does not extend or cover the period immediately after leaving office neither does it extend to include his family members during and after the period of his incumbency.” PER ONNOGHEN, J.S.C

JURISDICTION- WHAT JURISDICTION ENTAILS

”Jurisdiction in contrast to judicial power is the authority or legal weapon which a Court must possess to decide matters that are litigated before it or take cognizance of matters presented in a formal way for its decision. ” PER ONNOGHEN, J.S.C

JURISDICTION- THE NATURE OF JURISDICTION

”Jurisdiction may be limited as to the kind and nature of actions which a particular court may entertain or as to the area over which its judicial powers extend, or both.  PER KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C

RULE OF INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE-DUTY OF COURT TO INTERPRET THE PROVISIONS OF STATUTE CLEARLY BY GIVING THE PLAIN WORDINGS THEIR ORDINARY INTERPRETATION

”In the interpretation of Statutes, the cardinal rule is that where the provisions of a Statute is clear and unambiguous, the duty of the court is to simply interpret the clear provision by giving the plain wordings their ordinary interpretation without more. It is not the function of a court of law to bend backwards to sympathise with a party in a case in the interpretation of a statute merely for the reason, that the language of the law seems harsh or is likely to cause, hardship. PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW CASE

 

Advertisements

HARUNA GYANG & ANOR VS COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, LAGOS STATE & 5 ORS

SUBJECT-MATTER

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL-WHETHER BOUND TO OBSERVE THE PRINCIPLES OF FAIR HEARING

FAIR HEARING-GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF –SECTION 36 OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION

“It has long been settled in a line of cases decided by this court that administrative bodies or tribunals, acting judicially in the determination or imposition of a decision that is likely to affect the civil rights and obligations of a person, are   bound and enjoined to strictly observe the principles of fair hearing.PER OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN, JSC

CLICK HERE TO VIEW CASE

ALHAJI ZANNA MAIDERIBE v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

SUBJECT-MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE-CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY- WHEN OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY CAN BE SAID TO HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED

ELEMENT OF AN OFFENCE- EFFECT OF FAILURE TO PROVE AN ELEMENT NOT CONTAINED IN THE LAW CREATING THE OFFENCE

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE – EFFECT OF SECTION 36 (8) 1999 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

“Section 36(8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which states – No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed.” PER MAHMUD MOHAMMED, JSC

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ASE

ACTION CONGRESS OF NIGERIA (ACN) & ANOR VS I.N.E.C & ORS

SUBJECT MATTER

ACTION, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, APPEAL, STATUTES OF LIMITATION, CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE

PRELIMINARY OBJECTION- EFFECT OF

LIMITATION STATUTE –WHEN IT HAS RUN OUT-WHETHER TAKES AWAY THE RIGHT TO SEEK REMEDY

FRAUD-MEANING OF

CONSPIRACY-MEANING OF

CONSTITUTION-NATURE OF

RIGHT TO APPEAL –NATURE OF-CONDITION PRECEDENT TO THE EXERCISE OF

JURISDICTION OF COURTS- ABSENCE OF-EFFECT ON PROCEEDINGS

STATUTE OF LIMITATION-PROCEEDINGS CONCLUDED OUTSIDE THE TIME LIMIT-HOW TREATED

“Any proceedings concluded outside the time limit, no matter how very well decided, will certainly amount to nothing and will be so declared a nullity. Generally, statute of limitation begins to run from the moment the cause or action arises”. PER OLU ARIWOOLA, JSC

CLICK HERE TO VIEW CASE 

SEGUN AJIBADE V THE STATE

SUBJECT-MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW

LAW OF EVIDENCE

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

FAIR HEARING

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – POWER OF COURT TO CONVICT ON VOLUNTARY STATEMENT OF AN ACCUSED

FAIR HEARING-GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF FAIR TRIAL

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – STATUS WHEN ADMITTED WITHOUT ANY OBJECTION

Where a confessional statement is therefore admitted without any objection the irresistible inference is that same was made voluntarily and a court can rightly convict on the basis of admission contained therein.” PER CLARA BATA-OGUNBIYI, JSC

CLICKHERE TO VIEW CASE

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF RIVERS STATE V ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BAYELSA STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION

SUBJECT – MATTER

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OF THE SUPREME COURT

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES

PUBLIC OFFICERS PROTECTION LAW OF NORTHERN NIGERIA

It is my view therefore that the words  “any person” as provided in Section 2 of the public officers (protection Law of Northern Nigeria) 1963, are not limited only to natural persons or human beings or to persons sued in their personal namesPER SULEIMAN GALADIMA, J.S.C

Click here to view case

DR. YUSUF MUSA NAGOGO V. CONGRESS FOR PROGRESSIVE CHANGE & 2Ors

SUBJECT-MATTER

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

ELECTORAL ACT

JURISDICTION OF THE SUPREME COURT

There can no doubt that once pleadings are duly amended by the order of court, what stood before amendments are no longer material before the court and no longer defines the to be tried before the courtIGUH J.S.C, PER MARY UKAEGO PETER ODILI, J.S.C

Click here to view case

SENATOR JOHN AKPANUDOEDEHE V GODSWILL OBOT AKPABIO

SUBJECT-MATTER

ELECTION PETITION

ELECTION TRIBUNAL

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

FAIR HEARING

LIMITATION OF TIME

When the Constitution provides a limitation period for the hearing of a matter (in this case 180 days) the right to fair hearing is guaranteed by the courts within 180 days. Once 180 days elapsed the hearing of the matter fades away along with any right to fair hearing. There is no longer a live petition left. There is nothing to be tried even if a retrial order is given. It remains extinguished forever.

Per Bode Rhodes-Vivour J.S.C.

Click here to view case

ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF NASARAWA STATE V ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF PLATEAU STATE

SUBJECT-MATTER

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OF THE SUPREME COURT-INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE-LAW OF EVIDENCE-ESTOPPEL

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW- LAW OF EVIDENCE-ESTOPPEL

 “It is basic that where the words of a statute are plain and free from ambiguity, same should be given their ordinary and grammatical meaning”

Per J.A. Fabiyi J.S.C.

Click here to view case

 

PDP V. ROCHAS OKOROCHA & 10 ORS.

SUBJECT MATTER

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE –

 1. APPEALS- FINAL COURT OF APPEAL IN ELECTION PETITION.

2. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW- PURPORT OF THE PROVISIONS OF S. 285 (7) OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.

3. JUDGMENT- REASONS FOR DECISIONS OF COURTS MUST BE PROVIDED ON TIME.

4. JURISDICTION -ESSENCE OF

5. JURISDICTION- WHEN IT CAN BE RAISED

6. PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE- WHEN COURTS CAN RAISE ISSUES SUO MOTU.

7. JUDGMENT- CONTENTS OF

8. PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE- EFFECT OF CARRYING OUT AN ACT OUT OF TIME

 

“An action or anything done after expiration of the time prescribed is a nullity. Where the limitation of time is imposed in a constitution or statute unless they make provision for extension of time, the court cannot extend time.” Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye  JSC.

Click here to view case