HADI SULE vs. THE STATE (2017)

HADI SULE vs. THE STATE

(2017) LCN/4528(SC)

In the Supreme Court of Nigeria

Friday, April 7, 2017


Case Number: SC.405/2015

 

JUSTICES:

WALTER SAMUEL NKANNU ON1MOGHEN

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD

KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN

EJEMBI EKO

SIDI DAUDA BAGE

 

APPELLANTS

HADI SULE

RESPONDENTS

THE STATE

RATIO
STAY OF PROCEEDINGS BY THE COURTS
‘The court may at any stage of the trial, where there are several accused, may by order in writing stating the reasons therefor, stay proceedings of the joint trial and may continue proceedings against each and any of the accused separately”.
MAXIMS OF EQUITY
Equity follows the law, and takes as done that which ought be done.

FULL JUDGEMENT

JUDGMENT [Delivered by EJEMBI EKO, JSC]
These are appeals against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, delivered on 8th May, 2015 in the appeal No. CA/A/586/2012. The Court of Appeal had in the judgment affirmed the conviction and sentence of the appellants by the Niger State High Court upon the charge No. NSHC/MN/11C/2006.
The appellants were being prosecuted jointly with one Ahmed M. Dikko, who later absconded. With the absconsion of the said Ahmed M. Dikko, the trial High Court stayed further proceedings against him. It however, continued the proceedings against the remaining accused persons, including the appellants herein.
In this further appeal the appellants are complaining inter alia that trial and conviction, affirmed by the court below, were wrong in law in the absence of Ahmed M. Dikko, who was being jointly tried with them. This clearly is a wrong interpretation or appreciation of Section 259(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code Law of Niger State that provides

‘The court may at any stage of the trial, where there are several accused, may by order in writing stating the reasons therefor, stay proceedings of the joint trial and may continue proceedings against each and any of the accused separately”.

The trial court, faced with the situation under Section 259(1) CPC has two options. That is –
i. To stay further proceedings in the joint trial, apparently until the absconding accused is apprehended; or
ii. to suspend or stay the proceedings against the absconding accused person and continue with the proceedings in the trial of the remaining accused person(s).

In the instant case, the trial High Court adopted the latter option. It continued with the proceedings in the trial of the appellants after suspending further proceedings against the fugitive Ahmed M. Dikko. There is nothing wrong with this. It acted perfectly within the letters and spirit of the law as enacted in Section 259(1) CPC. In any case, the appellants have not shown in what way or manner this procedure adopted by the trial High Court had occasioned any miscarriage of justice to them. The appeal, on this issue is flimsy and vexatious.
The appeal, on whether the judgment of the trial court complied with Section 269(1) CPC, is also, in my firm view, vexatious. Section 269(1) CPC requires that every judgment shall contain the point or points for determination, the decision thereon and the reasons therefore, and shall be dated and signed or sealed in the open court at the time of pronouncing it. The complaint here is only that the learned trial Judge did not sign or seal the judgment with the date therein in open court. The appeal is not about the substance of the judgment, but about only the non-signing or sealing of the judgment and it’s non-dating.
Equity follows the law, and takes as done that which ought be done. This is what Section 168(1) Evidence Act 2011 is about when it provides that when any judicial act is shown to have been in a manner substantially regular, it is presumed that formal requisites for its validity were complied with. On this presumption, and without the appellants showing in what manner their rights have been compromised or prejudiced, or that they had suffered any miscarriage of justice, I hold that the trial court delivered its judgment wherein the appellants were convicted and sentenced for the offence(s) alleged against them on date the judgment was delivered in open court. The important is that the judgment was delivered in open court by the learned trial Judge before whom they were tried. This resort to arcane technicality has not impressed me. I will not allow the appeal on this issue. I, accordingly, resolve the issue against the appellants.
I read in draft the judgment of my learned brother, SIDI DAUDA BAGE, JSC, in these appeal. It represents my views in the appeal. I hereby adopt the judgment.
The appeals are hereby dismissed. The judgment of the Court of Appeal in appeal No. CA/A/586/2012 affirming the conviction and sentence of the appellants, contained in the judgment of Niger State High Court in the charge No. NSHC/MN/11/2006 delivered on 29th June, 2012, is hereby affirmed.

Counsel Appearances:
Charles Ihua-Madueniyi, Esq., with Cindy Ihua-Maduenyi, for the Appellants.
A. A. Ibrahim, Esq., with M.A. Ebute, Esq; A. Apeh, Esq; B.E. Sheyin (Mrs.) and O. Ademola, Esq., for the Respondent.

DELIVERED BY KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO
KEKERE-EKUN, JSC

I have had the benefit of reading in draft the judgment of my learned brother SIDI DAUDA BAGE, JSC just delivered. This appeal is a sister appeal to Appeal No. SC 404/2015: Garba Adamu Vs The State just delivered this morning in which I concurred with the reasoning and conclusion of my learned brother that the appeal was devoid of merit. I adopt the same reasoning and conclusion in the instant appeal. I hold that the appeal lacks merit. I accordingly dismiss it and affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division delivered on 8/5/2015.

CHARLES IHUA-MADENYI ESQ. for the Appellant with
Cindy Ihua Maduenyi (Miss).

A.A. IBRAHIM ESQ. for the Respondent with M.E. Ebute
Esq., Tunde Lanro Esq., and RJ. Nwunuji Esq.

JUDGMENT
DELIVERED BY WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN, CJN,

I have had the benefit of reading in draft the lead Judgment of my learned brother SIDl DAUDA BAGE, JSC just delivered.
I agree with his reasoning, and conclusion that the appeal lacks merit and i hereby adopt the Judgment.
I therefore order accordingly and affirm the Judgment of the lower court. Appeals dismissed.

I also agree that the Judgment of the Court of Appeal in appeal No. CA/A/586//012 affirming the conviction and sentence of the appellants, as contained in the Judgment of Niger State High Court in the charge No. NSHC/MN/11c/2006 delivered on 29th June, 2012, be and is hereby affirmed.

Walter Samuel NKanu Onnoghen Chief Justice of Nigeria

PAGE| 4

APPEARANCES:
CHARLES IHUA-MA.DUENIYI, ESQ. with him Cindy Ihua-Maduenyi, for the appellants.
A, A. IBRAHIM, ESQ. with M. A. Ebute, Esq; A. Apeh, Esq: B. E. Sheyin;
(Mrs.) and O. Ademola, Esq., for the Respondent.

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