OBINNA JOHN v. THE STATE (2019)

OBINNA JOHN v. THE STATE

(2019) LCN/4623(SC)

In the Supreme Court of Nigeria

Thursday, March 7, 2019


Case Number: SC.363/2014

 

JUSTICES:

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR

OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA

JOHN INYANG OKORO

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE

 

APPELLANTS

OBINNA JOHN

 

RESPONDENTS

THE STATE

RATIO

 

INGREDIENTS OF THE OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY

“It is no longer in doubt that Case Law has identified these constitutive ingredients of the offence of armed robbery, namely, that there was a robbery or series of robberies; that the robbers were armed and that the accused persons committed the said offence, Osuagwu v State (2016) LPELR – 40836 (SC) 12 – 13; Suberu v The State [2010] 8 NWLR (pt.1197) 586; Nwachukwu v The State [1985] 1 NWLR (pt. 110) 218; Alabi V The State [1993] 7 NWLR (pt. 307) 551; Olayinka v. The State [2007] 9 NWLR (pt 1040) 561. Others include: BOZIN v State (1985) 2 NWLR (pt 8) 465, 467; Okosun v AG, Bendel State (1985) 3 NWLR (pt 12) 283; Ikemson v State (1989) 3 NWLR (pt 1100) 455; Adeosun v. State (2007) 46 WRN 1; Afolalu v The State [2010] 16 NWLR (pt 1220) 554; Aruna v The State [1990] 6 NWLR (pt 155) 125; Okosi v.The State [1989] 1 NWLR (pt 100) 642.

 

 

DUTY OF PROSECUTION TO SECURE CONVICTION OF AN ACCUSED PERSONE

“In order therefore to secure the conviction of an accused person for the offence of armed robbery, the prosecution must satisfy the requirements of these ingredients beyond reasonable doubt. Where this is not done, the case must fail. Put differently, it is the Prosecution’s proof of these ingredients beyond reasonable doubt that would warrant a guilty verdict from the Court of trial, Osuagwu v State (supra); Afolalu v The State (supra); The State v Isiaka (2013) LPELRÂ -20521 (SC); Bozin v State (supra) at 467; Alabi v State (supra); Olayinka v State [2007] 9 NWLR (pt.1040) 561; Osetola and Anor v The State [2012] 17 NWLR (pt. 1329) 251, 275.”

 

 

PRINCIPLE OF FAIR HEARING

“The fair hearing provision in the Constitution is the machinery or locomotive of justice; not a spare part to propel or invigorate the case of the user. It is not a casual principle of law available to a party to be picked up at will in a case and force the Court to apply it to his advantage. On the contrary, it is a formidable and fundamental constitutional provision available to a party who is really denied fair hearing because he was not heard or that he was not properly heard in the case. Let litigants who have nothing useful to advocate in favour of their cases, leave the fair hearing constitutional provision alone because it is not available to them just for the asking. [Italics supplied for emphasis].”

 

STATUTORY PRESCRIPTION FOR A CHARGE

“By virtue of Section 36 (6) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), every person who is charged with any offence shall be entitled to be informed, promptly, in the language he understands, and in detail, of the nature of the offence. Only one or two cases may be cited here to illustrate this point, Amala v State [2004] 12 NWLR (pt. 888) 520; Ezeze v State [2004] 14 NWLR Pt 894) 491; Okeke v The State [2003] 15 NWLR (pt. 842) 25; Madu v The State (2012) LPELR -7867 (SC); Solola v The State [2005] 11 NWLR (pt 937) 460. Ostensibly therefore, the statutory prescription that every charge shall state the offence for which the accused person is standing trial stems from this constitutional mandate. Occasionally however, charges so drafted may contravene any of the rules of drafting charges, such as the rules against ambiguity; duplicity; misjoinder of offenders and misjoinder of offences, see generally, Bob Osamor, Fundamentals of Criminal Procedure Law in Nigeria (Ojodu, Lagos: Dee-Sage Nigeria Limited,2004) 188; O. Doherty, Criminal Procedure in Nigeria Law and Practice (London; Blackstone Press Limited, 1999) 227; O. Onadeko, The Criminal Trial Procedure (Lagos: Lannon Nigeria Ltd, 1998).”

 

FAILURE TO OBJECT TO A DEFECT ON A CHARGE TIMEOUSLY

“By Section 383 (supra), any objection to a charge for any formal defect [surely, an allegation bordering on the absence of the signature of a known legal practitioner is a formal defect] on the face thereof shall be taken immediately after the charge had been read over to the accused person and not later. Put differently, an accused person is under obligation to raise any objection to any formal defect to a charge before he takes his plea, Ogunye v The State [1999] 5 FWLR (pt.604) 545; Adeniji v The State[2001] 13 NWLR (pt.730) 375; Okeke v The State (2003) 5 SCM 131, 185-186; Solola and Anor v The State (2005) 6 SCM 137, 147; Okewu v FRN(2012) 1 NWLR (pt 1305) 327, 369. Where he fails to do so, he is presumed to have understood the charge preferred against him, Ogunye v The State (supra); Adeniji v The State (supra); Okeke v The State (supra); Solola and Anor v The State (supra); Okewu v FRN (supra).

 

APPROPRIATE TIME TO OBJECT TO A CHARGE

“It is trite law that the appropriate time to complain or object to a charge either as drawn up or formulated, is the time the charge is being read and before the plea. See; Elijah Ameh Okewu Vs. The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2012) 4 SCM 18; (2012)2 SC (Pt.11) 1; (2012) 2 SCNJ 126; (2012) 49 NSCQR 330.” –

 

 

CONVICTION BASED ON A CNFESSIONAL STATEMENT

“It is settled law that a confessional statement is the best evidence in our criminal procedure. Once it is admitted in evidence; the trial Court can safely convict an accused person based on his confessional statement. See Solola v. State (2005) 11 NWLR (Pt. 937) 460. Igri v. State (2012) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1327) 522 at 542.”

 

 

NATURE OF A CHARGE

“The important thing about “the Charge” in a criminal case is that it must tell the Accused Person enough, so that he may know the case alleged against him and prepare his defence- see Ogbomor V. State (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt. 2) 223, wherein Oputa, JSC, further explained that: The fact that a Charge is made is equivalent to a statement that every legal condition required by law to constitute the offence charged was fulfilled in the particular case – – The Charge must not, therefore, have defects or errors, which could mislead the Accused. The emphasis is not, on whether or not there were defects, errors or omissions in the Charge, but on whether or not those defects, errors or omission could and did in fact mislead the Defence. Subject to the above, a defect, error or omission, which does not prejudice the Defence, is no ground for quashing a conviction on a Charge for a known offence.

 

(CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE, J.S.C.) At the High Court of Justice, Plateau State of Nigeria, the appellant, (as accused person), was charged with the offence of Armed Robbery contrary to, and punishable under, Section 1 (2) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms Act, Cap 398, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990. At the trial of the case, the appellant pleaded not guilty to the Charge. The Prosecution called three witnesses, PW1, PW2 and PW3. Exhibits 1, 2 and 3 were tendered. On his part, the appellant testified as the sole witness. He tendered two exhibits, exhibits 4 and 5. Persuaded by the Prosecution’s case, the trial Court, on June 21, 2012, convicted the appellant as charged. The Court sentenced him to death by hanging. Having lost his appeal at the Court of Appeal, Jos Division, he has, further, appealed to this Court. He formulated five issues for the determination of his appeal by this Court. On its part, the respondent condensed the issues to three. On my part, I take the view that only the respondent’s first issue is determinative of this appeal. It was framed thus: Whether the trial, conviction and sentence passed on the appellant are a nullity in view of the signing of the charge dated 23rd day of October, 2008, for and on behalf of Mrs G. E. Dashe of the Plateau State Ministry of Justice? Before dealing with this issue, a re-statement of the factual background of this case may not be out of place. FACTUAL BACKGROUND The Prosecution’s case, which the trial Court believed, and was affirmed by the lower Court, was that the appellant, while armed with a gun, in the company of one John (now at large), robbed one Dorcas Olaniyi, the PW1, on November 18, 2005, of the sum of One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Five Naira (N1, 705, 00) and two rolls of Peak Milk. On the fateful day, he (the appellant) went to the victim’s shop parading himself as a customer. Samuel, PW2, the victim’s son, went to attend to his demand. The appellant gave the sum of One Hundred Naira to Samuel. As he, Samuel, the PW2, gave him, (the appellant), the tom-tom he asked for and turned to look for the sum of N80.00 for the appellant, the latter pulled a gun and pointed at PW2. Perceiving danger, PW1, Samuel’s mother, Dorcas Olaniyi, who was lying down in the shop, screamed. The appellant threatened to kill both of them if she, the PW1, did not keep quiet. Having ordered PW1 and PW2 to lie down, the appellant, went away with the money they made for that day and two rolls of Peak Milk. PW2 jumped up and ran after him, the appellant, together with the other person, John (still at large). John, who was outside diverting customers away from the shop, ran with the appellant. With the assistance of neighbours, PW2 caught the appellant. John, however escaped. I had, earlier in this judgement, expressed my preference for the respondent’s first issue as being determinative of this appeal. I now take the liberty to further prune it thus: Whether the appellant’s trial was a nullity because the charge was signed for, and on behalf of Mrs. G.E. Dashe of the Ministry of Justice? ARGUMENTS OF COUNSEL At the hearing of this appeal on December 13, 2018, T. Kekemeke, Esq., learned counsel for the appellant, appearing with Maxwell Chukwujama, adopted the brief filed on October 20, 2014. He equally adopted the Reply brief filed on June 7, 2017 as representing his arguments in favour of the appellant. He devoted pages 4 -15 to the first and second issues: issues which essentially, turned on the validity or otherwise of the charge. His main reason for impugning the said charge is that it was not signed by any known legal practitioner. He cited such cases like Okafor and Nweke [2007] All FVVLR (pt 368) 1016; First Bank of Nigeria Plc v Maiwada and Ors [2012] 51 NSCQR 155 and a host of other cases dealing with the validity of processes signed by persons other than legal practitioners. Learned appellant’s counsel turned on issue three, to the question whether the trial Court set up a case different from that made by the respondent, pages 15 -20. Although not argued together, issue five, pages 30 -33 of the brief, bears close affinity to issue three. This issue was still on the absence of the gun used for the robbery. Finally, issue four was devoted to questions that have no direct bearing on the fortunes of the appellant in the present appeal. It will, therefore, not detain us here. RESPONDENT’S SUBMISSIONS On his part, G. D. Fwomyon, DPP, Plateau State, appearing with G. E. Dashe, DDCR/LR and E. I. Angai, DDLD, MOJ, Plateau State, for the respondent, adopted the brief filed on April 15, 2015, although, deemed properly filed on May 10, 2017. In response to the arguments on the first issue, he cited Section 382 of the Criminal Procedure Code; John Agbo v The State [2006]1 SCNJ 332, 335-337; Uwaekweghinya v State [2005] SCNJ 32, 42; Egbedi v State [1981] 11 – 12 SC 98. He pointed out that the appellant’s case is not that he was misled by the question of the signature on behalf of Mrs G. E. Dashe. What is more, the appellant and his counsel never objected to any defect to the charge, Timothy v FRN [2013] 4 NWLR (pt. 1344) 213, 231 -243. Even then, he observed, the so-called irregularity or defect has not occasioned a failure of justice. The charge described an offence known to law. It was read to the appellant, who having understood the charge, pleaded not guilty, Timothy v FRN (supra) 246-217. Neither himself nor his counsel objected to the charge, FRN v Wabara [2013] 5 NWLR (pt 1347) 331; having thus failed to object, it is too late to object, Agbo v State (supra). On the question of the absence of gun, he cited the unchallenged testimonies of PW1; PW2 and exhibit 3 (the appellant’s confessional statement). He pointed out that the trial Court’s decision on this question of gun was based on the testimonies of these eye witnesses: testimonies corroborated by the appellant’s confessional statement, exhibit 3. In his submission, the best form of evidence is that of eye witness, Baruwa v State [1996] 7 NWLR (pt. 460) 302, 311; Okosi v State [1989] 2 NWLR (pt 100) 642, 656. He contended that, having proved all the ingredients of the offence of armed robbery, the non-linkage of the gun to the appellant does not derogate from the fact that he was armed with a gun. The testimonies of PW1 and Pw3 were not impeached to render them unreliable. Above all, failure to tender the weapon is not fatal, Abiodun v. State [2013] 4 SCNJ 153, 168; Ukosi v. The State [1981]. APPELLANT’S REPLY As indicated earlier, T. Kekemeke, Esq., adopted the Reply brief in which he re-iterated the submissions he had canvassed in the main Brief. RESOLUTION OF THE ISSUE It is no longer in doubt that Case Law has identified these constitutive ingredients of the offence of armed robbery, namely, that there was a robbery or series of robberies; that the robbers were armed and that the accused persons committed the said offence, Osuagwu v State (2016) LPELR – 40836 (SC) 12 – 13; Suberu v The State [2010] 8 NWLR (pt.1197) 586; Nwachukwu v The State [1985] 1 NWLR (pt. 110) 218; Alabi V The State [1993] 7 NWLR (pt. 307) 551; Olayinka v. The State [2007] 9 NWLR (pt 1040) 561. Others include: BOZIN v State (1985) 2 NWLR (pt 8) 465, 467; Okosun v AG, Bendel State (1985) 3 NWLR (pt 12) 283; Ikemson v State (1989) 3 NWLR (pt 1100) 455; Adeosun v. State (2007) 46 WRN 1; Afolalu v The State [2010] 16 NWLR (pt 1220) 554; Aruna v The State [1990] 6 NWLR (pt 155) 125; Okosi v. State [1989] 1 NWLR (pt 100) 642. In order therefore to secure the conviction of an accused person for the offence of armed robbery, the prosecution must satisfy the requirements of these ingredients beyond reasonable doubt. Where this is not done, the case must fail. Put differently, it is the Prosecution’s proof of these ingredients beyond reasonable doubt that would warrant a guilty verdict from the Court of trial, Osuagwu v State (supra); Afolalu v The State (supra); The State v Isiaka (2013) LPELRÂ -20521 (SC); Bozin v State (supra) at 467; Alabi v State (supra); Olayinka v State [2007] 9 NWLR (pt.1040) 561; Osetola and Anor v The State [2012] 17 NWLR (pt. 1329) 251, 275. At the trial Court, PW1 and PW2, victims of the offence testified. Their unequivocal testimonies, which were not impeached, identified the appellant as the man who robbed them. They testified that the appellant was armed when he robbed them. Their testimonies were not discredited in any way as to diminish their probative value as testimonies of eye witnesses, Ukosi v The State (supra). The appellant’s counsel wasted so much energy on the trial Court’s rejection of the gun that was produced. However, that rejection does not detract from the fact the appellant was armed when he robbed the victims. In any event, the Prosecution’s failure to tender the weapon used is not fatal to the beautiful case it presented, Abiodun v The State [2013] 4 SCR] 153, 168. The lower Court, rightly, affirmed the findings of the trial Court. In effect, the appellant was battling with concurrent findings which he could not prove to be perverse, Ndidi v The State (supra). Unable to impugn the concurrent findings on any rational ground, learned counsel for the appellant drummed up the issue of appellant’s fair hearing. The answer to this weak-kneed attempt is to remind him of the inapplicability of the fair hearing doctrine to his case, like this Court did in Adebayo v AG, Ogun State (2008) LPELR – 80 (SC) 23- 24. For its bearing on the fortune of the appellants’ case, I crave Your Lordships’ indulgence to quote this Court’s view in extenso: I have seen in recent times that parties who have bad cases embrace and make use of the constitutional provision of fair hearing to bamboozle the adverse party and the Court, with a view to moving the Court away from the live issues in the litigation. They make so much weather and sing the familiar song that the constitutional provision is violated or contravened. They do not stop there. They rake the defence in most inappropriate cases because they have nothing to canvass in their favour in the case. The fair hearing provision in the Constitution is the machinery or locomotive of justice; not a spare part to propel or invigorate the case of the user. It is not a casual principle of law available to a party to be picked up at will in a case and force the Court to apply it to his advantage. On the contrary, it is a formidable and fundamental constitutional provision available to a party who is really denied fair hearing because he was not heard or that he was not properly heard in the case. Let litigants who have nothing useful to advocate in favour of their cases, leave the fair hearing constitutional provision alone because it is not available to them just for the asking. [Italics supplied for emphasis]. It is this same impression that led to the extensive arguments in the appellant’s brief on the absence of signature in the charge. Now, just like Sections 166, 167 and 168 of the old Criminal Procedure Law, Section 382 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which was applicable in Plateau State, at the relevant time, dealt with the effect of errors, defects or omissions in charges at the trial Court, Okewu v FRN [2012] 1 NWLR (pt. 1305) 237, 369; John Agbo v State [2006] 1 SCNJ 332, 335-337; Uwaekweghinya v State [2005] 3 SCNJ 32, 42. Thus, in order to accentuate the irrelevance of the submissions of the appellant’s counsel, it is necessary to adumbrate on the import of this section of the Criminal Procedure Code (supra). By virtue of Section 36 (6) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), every person who is charged with any offence shall be entitled to be informed, promptly, in the language he understands, and in detail, of the nature of the offence. Only one or two cases may be cited here to illustrate this point, Amala v State [2004] 12 NWLR (pt. 888) 520; Ezeze v State [2004] 14 NWLR Pt 894) 491; Okeke v The State [2003] 15 NWLR (pt. 842) 25; Madu v The State (2012) LPELR -7867 (SC); Solola v The State [2005] 11 NWLR (pt 937) 460. Ostensibly therefore, the statutory prescription that every charge shall state the offence for which the accused person is standing trial stems from this constitutional mandate. Occasionally, however, charges so drafted may contravene any of the rules of drafting charges, such as the rules against ambiguity; duplicity; misjoinder of offenders and misjoinder of offences, see generally, Bob Osamor, Fundamentals of Criminal Procedure Law in Nigeria (Ojodu, Lagos: Dee-Sage Nigeria Limited,2004) 188; O. Doherty, Criminal Procedure in Nigeria Law and Practice (London; Blackstone Press Limited, 1999) 227; O. Onadeko, The Criminal Trial Procedure (Lagos: Lannon Nigeria Ltd, 1998). This is the context in which Section 383 (supra) has to be viewed. By Section 383 (supra), any objection to a charge for any formal defect [surely, an allegation bordering on the absence of the signature of a known legal practitioner is a formal defect] on the face thereof shall be taken immediately after the charge had been read over to the accused person and not later. Put differently, an accused person is under obligation to raise any objection to any formal defect to a charge before he takes his plea, Ogunye v The State [1999] 5 FWLR (pt.604) 545; Adeniji v The State [2001] 13 NWLR (pt.730) 375; Okeke v The State (2003) 5 SCM 131, 185-186; Solola and Anor v The State (2005) 6 SCM 137, 147; Okewu v FRN (2012) 1 NWLR (pt 1305) 327, 369. Where he fails to do so, he is presumed to have understood the charge preferred against him, Ogunye v The State (supra); Adeniji v The State (supra); Okeke v The State (supra); Solola and Anor v The State (supra); Okewu v FRN (supra). Simply put, therefore, the learned DPP for the respondent was right in his submission that since counsel for the appellant did not raise any objection to the alleged defect in the charge, he cannot now canvass it here, Uwaekweghinya v State (supra); Timothy v FRN [2013] 4 NWLR (Pt 1344) 213, 231 -243; Agbo v State (supra). In all, I find no merit in this appeal. It is accordingly, dismissed. I affirm the concurrent judgements of the lower Courts. Appeal dismissed. OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR, J.S.C.: I have had the advantage of reading in draft the leading judgment of my learned brother, Nweze JSC. For the reasons given by his lordship I agree that this appeal should be dismissed. Appeal dismissed. OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.: I had the opportunity of reading in draft the lead judgment of my learned brother, Nweze, JSC just delivered. I am in agreement with the reasoning therein and conclusion arrived thereat, that the appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. The complaint of the appellant is about the charge upon which he was tried before the trial Court. The charge was said to have been signed by a person not known to law as legal practitioner. It is noteworthy that the appellant did not object to the reading of the charge when his plea was being taken at the commencement of his trial. The charge was read clearly and he did not complain about the contents or the body of the charge. He pleaded NOT GUILTY to the charge which meant that he understood the charge and was not misled in any way. It is trite law that the appropriate time to complain or object to a charge either as drawn up or formulated, is the time the charge is being read and before the plea. See; Elijah Ameh Okewu Vs. The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2012) 4 SCM 18; (2012)2 SC (Pt.11) 1; (2012) 2 SCNJ 126; (2012) 49 NSCQR 330. Therefore, it was too late in the day for the appellant to be complaining about the charge on appeal. At the very best, whatever complaint the appellant had about the arraignment ought to have been taken before the trial Judge and considered with the trial of the main complaint by the prosecution and a ruling given by the trial Court. In the circumstance, I have no reason to interfere or tamper with the concurring decisions of the Courts below, as there was no evidence of miscarriage of justice or breach of fair hearing. Accordingly, for this reason and the detailed reasoning in the leading judgment, I also hold that the appeal is devoid of merit and liable to dismissal, I too will dismiss the appeal. Appeal dismissed. JOHN INYANG OKORO, J.S.C.: I read in advance the judgment of my learned brother, Chima Centus Nweze, JSC, just delivered. I agree with his reasoning and conclusion that this appeal is devoid of merit and deserves to be dismissed. It is trite law that this Court would rarely interfere with concurrent findings of facts by the two Courts below except where such concurrent findings of facts appear to be perverse, occasion a miscarriage of justice, unreasonable and against the evidence adduced, or in violation of some principle of law and procedure. In such circumstances, this Court would not allow such perverse findings to stand. See Ogbu v. State (1992) 8 NWLR (Pt. 259) 255; Ogba v. State (1992) 2 NWLR (Pt. 222) 164: Bright v. State (2012)8 NWLR (Pt. 1302) 297 Ikenta Best (Nig.) Ltd. vs. Attorney-General Rivers State (2008) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1084). It has also become trite that our Courts have long departed from the era of technicalities to doing substantial justice between parties. See Omoju v. FRN (2008) 7 NWLR (Pt.1085) 38; Oloruntoba-Oju vs. Abdul- Raheem (2009) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1157) 83. The main complaint advanced by the Appellant in this appeal upon which he wants this Court to interfere with the concurrent findings of the two lower Courts is that the charge was not signed by any known legal practitioner. This observation was brought to the fore long after the Appellant (as accused) had taken his plea and subsequently convicted for the offence preferred against him, after trial. On this point, I agree with the submission of the Respondent’s counsel that the appellant having failed to raise objection to the charge before plea, it has become too late to object. In the case of Okewu v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2012) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1305) 327 at 352 paragraphs E, this Court per Ariwoola, JSC observed that: “If there had been any defect or an ambiguity in the charge, the appellant should not have responded with his plea when the charge was read. He should have objected at the reading of the charge. The appropriate time to complain or object to a charge as drawn up, is at the time it is being read and before the plea.” The above observation of his lordship is the extant position of the law. This Court cannot depart from it, moreso, as the charge did not offend any known rule of drafting of charges and the irregularity so complained of did not occasion a miscarriage of justice. I have also considered the import of exhibit 3 which is the confessional statement of the appellant together with the unimpeached testimonies of PW1 and PW2. I am satisfied as the two lower Courts before now that the confession as per exhibit 3 is unequivocal and true. It is in tandem with the testimonies of PW1 and PW2 which have established as rightly found by the lower Courts that the appellant committed the offence for which he is being charged with. It is settled law that a confessional statement is the best evidence in our criminal procedure. Once it is admitted in evidence; the trial Court can safely convict an accused person based on his confessional statement. See Solola v. State (2005) 11 NWLR (Pt. 937) 460. Igri v. State (2012) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1327) 522 at 542. I hold therefore, that in view of the fact that the charge preferred against the appellant disclosed an offence known to law and the irregularity observed thereon, long after plea had been taken, did not occasion any miscarriage of justice against the appellant and the fact that the appellant unequivocally confessed to the commission of the offence in exhibit 3 which was corroborated by the testimonies of PW1 and PW2, there is therefore no reason to interfere with the concurrent findings of facts of the two Courts below. On the whole, I agree that this appeal has no merit. It is hereby dismissed. I affirm the concurrent findings of the lower Courts. Appeal dismissed. AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, J.S.C.: I had a preview of the lead Judgment delivered by my learned brother, Nweze, JSC, and I agree with him that this Appeal totally lacks merit. The important thing about “the Charge” in a criminal case is that it must tell the Accused Person enough, so that he may know the case alleged against him and prepare his defence- see Ogbomor V. State (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt. 2) 223, wherein Oputa, JSC, further explained that: The fact that a Charge is made is equivalent to a statement that every legal condition required by law to constitute the offence charged was fulfilled in the particular case – – The Charge must not, therefore, have defects or errors, which could mislead the Accused. The emphasis is not, on whether or not there were defects, errors or omissions in the Charge, but on whether or not those defects, errors or omission could and did in fact mislead the Defence. Subject to the above, a defect, error or omission, which does not prejudice the Defence, is no ground for quashing a conviction on a Charge for a known offence. It is also settled that any objection to a Charge for any formal defect on the face of it shall be taken immediately after the Charge has been read over to the Accused; not later. In this case, the Appellant’s timing or stage of making his objection is what put the spanner in the works. The said Charge described an offence known to law; it was read to the Appellant; and having understood same, he pleaded not guilty. As the Respondent pointed out, neither the Appellant nor his counsel objected to the alleged defect in the Charge, and it is too late to object. It is for this and the other articulate reasons in the lead Judgment that I dismiss this Appeal and affirm the decisions of the Courts below.

COUNSELS

T. Kekemeke, Esq. with him, Maxwell Chukwujama, Esq.for Appellant(s)|G.D. Fromson, Esq. (DPP, Plateau State) with him, G. E. Dashe, Esq. (DDCR/LR) and E. I. Angail, Esq. (DDLD) for Respondent(s)|

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