⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Orji Uzor Kalu v. Federal Republic Of Nigeria & Ors (2019) – CA
– No case submission;
Orji Uzor Kalu
1. Federal Republic Of Nigeria;
2. Jones Udeogu;
3. Slok Nigeria Limited;
Court of Appeal
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Mohammed Lawal Garba, J.C.A.
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
The Appellant was arraigned by the 1st Respondent before the Federal High Court, Lagos (Lower Court), along with the 2nd and 3rd Respondents and tried on a thirty-nine (39) Counts 2nd Further Amended charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07 filed on 16th July, 2018 for offences under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and the Criminal Code Act, 1990.
At the close of the case by the prosecution, the Appellant made a no case submission which was over-ruled by the Lower Court in a Ruling dated 31st July, 2018 and so was called upon to enter his defence to the offences he was charged for.
This appeal arises from the decision by the Lower Court to dismiss the no-case submission.
1. WHETHER THE LOWER COURT WAS NOT RIGHT IN OVER-RULING THE NO CASE SUBMISSION FILED BY THE APPELLANT HAVING REGARDS TO THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY THE PROSECUTION BEFORE IT?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. The law is settled that in the determination of whether or not to uphold a submission of a no case to answer made by an accused person at the close of the prosecution’s evidence in a trial, all that is required is for a Court; whether trial or appellate, to look at the totality of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and see if, reasonable and sufficient legally admissible evidence which shows some connection, link, relation or nexus between the accused person and the facts which constitute the commission of the offence(s) he was charged with. At this stage, the Court is not concerned with whether the evidence adduced against an accused person is sufficient and of such quality and probative value to meet or satisfy the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt, but simply to find out whether the evidence adduced by the prosecution discloses a connection between the accused person and the commission of the offence(s) such that some explanations from him are necessary in the absence of which, the evidence can reasonably, if believed, support his conviction for the offence(s) he is charge for.
ii. I have calmly read through the evidence of the witnesses in-chief and under crossexamination as well as the myriad of documents put in evidence by the prosecution, alongside the provisions of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and Criminal Code Act under which the charge against the Appellant was preferred, and I agree with the Lower Court, that some connection between the Appellant and the commission of the offences he was charged with, is shown to warrant and justify his being ordered to enter into a defence of the offence(s) in the case. The Lower Court in the circumstances was right to have over-ruled the no-case submission by the Appellant.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
Although the 1st Respondent applied for and was granted leave to file a brief in excess of the number of pages prescribed by the Practice Directions, at the hearing of the appeal, there is still the need, for the purpose of guidance, for me to say that an Appellant’s Reply brief, as provided for in Order 19 Rule 5(1) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2016, is only to be used for the purpose of dealing with and to answer all new points arising from or raised in the Respondent’s brief. An Appellant’s Reply brief is not an avenue or forum for raising objections to processes in an appeal, but to react or respond to new points of law raised in the Respondent’s brief which call for or require answer(s) from the Appellant. – Lawal Garba, JCA. Orji v. FRN (2019)
In addition, the law still remains that Rules of Court (and Practice Directions) are meant to aid, facilitate and assist the Court in attainment of expeditious, orderly and substantial justice on the merit in all cases that come before them and not to be made to clog the wheels of justice or impede the primary object and duty of the Courts to ensure the attainment of justice on the merit. As a general rule, the Rules of procedure and practice of Courts are meant to be obeyed and complied with by the parties and the Courts, but when strict obedience, compliance or application of the Rules would only allow or enable a party to score a victory, not on the merit, but a technical knockout at the expense of a determination of a case on merit, the attitude of the Court is to lean towards doing justice on the merit rather than acede to the dictates of crass technicality in the blind folded and slavish application of the Rules of Court, the breach of which will occasion no miscarriage of justice to any of the parties to a case. – Lawal Garba, JCA. Orji v. FRN (2019)
The attitude of the Courts has been that parties should not be visited with the sin or be punished for mistakes committed in the conduct of their cases by Counsel. – Lawal Garba, JCA. Orji v. FRN (2019)
The proper approach therefore is not to consider whether each and all of the essential ingredients of the offence(s) an accused was charged was/were proved beyond reasonable doubt at the stage of a ruling on a no-case submission, but to consider if the evidence adduced by the prosecution shows a nexus between an accused person and some of the facts which constitute the vital or essential ingredients of the offence(s) he was charged for in respect of which explanations are reasonably expected from him. – Lawal Garba, JCA. Orji v. FRN (2019)