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A DISCHARGE AND ACQUITTAL OF AN ACCUSED PERSON UNDER SECTION 159 OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE (CPC) DOES NOT OPERATE AS A BAR TO FURTHER PROCEEDINGS AGAINST HIM

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CASE TITLE: KWARRA V. FRN (2018) LPELR-45956(CA)

PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

LEAD JUDGMENT BY: JUMMAI HANNATU SANKEY, J.C.A.

FACTS OF THE CASE

This appeal is against the Ruling of the Nasarawa State High Court, Lafia, delivered by Abdullahi, J.

Respondent preferred a three-count charge against the Appellant at the High Court. Therein, the accused was charged for forgery and making a false statement, misrepresenting facts to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It was the Respondent’s contention that the Appellant who studied Political Science at the University of Jos and graduated with a Third-Class Degree, had presented a forged Second-Class Degree (Lower Division) Certificate to INEC as his academic qualification to contest the election into the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, knowing same to be false.

When the trial commenced, the Appellant, raised an objection to the jurisdiction of the Court on the ground that the trial constituted double jeopardy on the basis that he had already been tried and acquitted on similar charges, at the Upper Area Court 1, Kasuwan Nama, Jos.

The trial Court overruled the objection on the ground that the offences for which the accused was charged before are not substantially the same as the offences in the previous charge, and that the relevant statute did not empower the Court to acquit the Appellant. Dissatisfied with the Ruling and pursuant to the leave of Court sought and granted, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION 

The issues for determination, as formulated by the appellant and adopted by the respondent, are:

  1. Whether by virtue of Exhibit “A” annexed to the Appellant’s Motion on Notice filed on the 26th January, 2011, there was enough material before the learned trial Judge to reach a finding that the substance of the offence for which the Appellant was arraigned before him was the same as the offences for which he was discharged and acquitted by the Upper Area Court 1, Kasuwan Nama, Jos.
  2. In the light of the superior and overriding provision of Section 36(9) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), whether the learned trial Judge was right in relying on Section 159(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code to hold that the discharge and acquittal of the Appellant was not a bar to re-trying the Appellant for the same offence without averting his mind to the fact that the said Section 159(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code is in conflict and inconsistent with Section 36(9) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and is to the extent of such inconsistency, null, void and of no effect.

DECISION/HELD
In conclusion, having resolved issue one in favour of the Appellant and Issue two in favour of the Respondent, the appeal succeeded in part.

RATIO DECIDENDI

- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – DISCHARGE/ACQUITTAL OF AN ACCUSED PERSON – Whether the discharge and acquittal of an accused person under Section 159 of the Criminal Procedure Code constitutes a bar to subsequent proceedings

 

lawpavilion • December 5, 2018


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