Areas Of Law
APPEAL, COURT, CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE, LAW OF EVIDENCE, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
Summary Of Facts
The Appellant and three others were arraigned at the Edo State High Court of Benin City on a nine count charge of Furnishing false statement contrary to Section 16 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, Abetment contrary to Section 26(1)(c ) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, Conspiracy to commit an offence contrary to Section 26(1)© and punishable under section 16 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 among others. At the trial of the case, the prosecution called ten witnesses. At the close of the prosecution’s case, the Appellant together with other Accused persons made a no case-submission which was overruled on the ground that all the Appellants had a case to answer. Dissatisfied with the said ruling the accused persons including the Appellant appealed individually to the Court of Appeal. The Court of appeal in its ruling also dismissed the appeals. Still aggrieved, the Appellant who was the 2nd Appellant before the lower Court has appealed to the Supreme Court.
Issues For Determination
➢ Whether the non-consideration of the appeal of the 2nd accused/appellant by the court below did not amount to denial of fair hearing guaranteed under section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 1999: thereby rendering the judgment of the Court of Appeal a complete-nullity.
➢ Whether or not the appellant was denied fair hearing by the Court of Appeal in light of the circumstances of the case (gleaned from the single ground of appeal.
EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE – IT IS THE DUTY OF THE TRIAL COURT TO EVALUATE EVIDENCE AND ASCRIBE WEIGHT TO SUCH EVIDENCE
“In any event, it is settled law that evaluation of evidence and ascription of weight thereto remains the province of the trial court which heard and observed the demeanor of the witnesses and is consequently in a better position to form an opinion as to the credibility of the said witnesses.” PER W. S.N. ONNOGHEN, J.C.A.
NO – CASE SUBMISSION – WHETHER THE CREDIBILITY OF A WITNESS CAN ARISE IN A NO-CASE SUBMISSION
“In dealing with a no-case submission, the issue of the Court believing or disbelieving the evidence or the credibility of the witness could not arise and so the facts that will lead to the merit vel non of the case are not in issue. See R v. Coker 20 NLR 62; Ajiboye v. The State (1995) 8 NWLR (Pt. 414) 408 at 444.” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.C.A.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION – EXCEPTION TO THE RULE ON THE DUTY OF THE COURT TO CONSIDER AND PRONOUNCE ON THE ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION RAISED AND CANVASSED BY PARTIES
“On that note, I would state straight away that it is a general principle of law that a Court has a duty to consider and make a pronouncement on the issues that arise, were raised and canvassed upon by parties for determination. That general position is not an untouchable one or a principle without exception as the Court would desist in tackling all issues where the effect would negate the adjudicatory process or prejudice it or compromise the justice of the matter. In this exception would rest an unsuccessful no-case submission which still has a long way to go as the defence has not commenced and making further comments beyond stating as briefly as possible that the No Case submission was over-ruled and the accused to enter into his defence. The Court says no more until the defence with or without witnesses have had their say and concluded and the role of the Court to make further comments would be at its judgment. See Ojoh v Kamalu (2006) All FWLR (Pt.297) 978; Wilson Oshin (2000) 9 NWLR (673) 442; Cookey v Fombo (2005)5 SC (pt.11)102 at 111; Balogun v Labiran(1998 3 NWLR(Pt. 80) 66 at 80.” PER M.U. PETER-ODILI, J.S.C
Statutes Referred To
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (as amended)
Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000
Supreme Court Act