CASE SUMMARY OF:
ABDULLAHI v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (FRN)  - SC
- Indian Hemp;
- Tendering of evidence;
- Confessional Statement;
- Forensic Evidence;
- Burden of prove;
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN. JSC
LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
- DR. J.Y. MUSA.
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
- CHIEF E.K. ASHIEKAA.
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Bank: Zenith Bank.
Name: Branham Paul Chima.
Account No.: 2178756839.
FACT (as relating to the issues)
On the 11th day of March, 2010. appellant was arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja on a single count charge, which reads as follows: "CHARGE That you MANNIR ABDULLAHI (M) on or about the 20th August, 2009 at Nwara Estate Side Abuja FCT, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly dealt in 1.050 kilogram of Indian hemp otherwise known as cannabis sativa a narcotic drug without lawful authority and thereby committed an offence, contrary to and punishable under section 11C of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004."
On arraignment, and after the above charge was read over to the appellant, to which he said he understood, appellant pleaded guilty thereto. The matter was: however, adjourned to the 3rd day of May, 2010 for hearing. There is no record of what took place on 3rd May, 2010 but on 30th June, 2010 the charge was heard de novo when same was again read over to the understanding of appellant who, again pleaded guilty to same. The Judge was B.G. ASHIGARJ. Again, the prosecution asked for a date for review of facts as a result of which the case was adjourned to 3rd July, 2010 and appellant remanded in prison custody. Following some further adjournments as a result of the forensic report not being ready, the review of the facts was eventually conducted on the 23rd day of July, 2010 and the matter adjourned to 2nd August, 2010 for judgment. The court proceeded to convict appellant for the offence charged and admitted and sentenced him to a term of two years imprisonment without option of fine, with effect from the date of his arrest i.e 20th August, 2009.
Appellant was dissatisfied with the judgment and appealed against same to the lower court, which appeal, as stated earlier in this fact, was dismissed for lack of merit.
The instant appeal is, therefore, a further appeal by appellant.
i. Whether there was enough admissible evidence before the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal upon which they affirmed the conviction of the appellant.
ii. Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in holding that Exhibits P1 - P7 which were tendered by the prosecution from the bar were properly tendered and admitted.
iii. Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right when they held that the appellant admitted in his confessional statement that he sells Indian hemp as an occupation and that the confession was an admission that he knew what he was charged with and had committed the offence as alleged.
HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1. FOR ISSUE 1, THE SUPREME COURT HELD AGAINST THE APPELLANT.
i. At pages 22 - 23 of the record, the trial Judge made the following findings of fact - "I have examined exhibits P1 - P7. Totality of the exhibits shown beyond reasonable doubt that the weed was recovered from the accused which was tested forensically and found to be cannabis sativa an illicit drug within the contemplation of section 11 under which the accused was charged I have no reason to doubt the process by which these facts were produced. The accused himself also confessed in his statement to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency operatives which was read in open court and was accepted as being his statement that he has been smoking hemp for about five years and that he also sell same to one Sunday as sales boy."
Upon review of the facts of the case, the lower court, at pages 75 -76 of the record affirmed same in the following words: "To my mind, the confession and the plea go hand in hand to show that the appellant committed the offence alleged and consciously admitted that he knew what he was charged with and had committed the offence as alleged. The confessional statement as tendered before the court is direct and positive as to the commission of the offence and there is nothing in the record to show that it was not voluntarily made, it is in my view sufficient to sustain the conviction."
The above are concurrent findings of fact by the lower courts. Learned Counsel for appellant is not, in fact, disputing the findings of facts neither is he contending that they are perverse. It is however, settled law that this Court, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, does not make a practice of setting aside concurrent findings of fact by the lower courts except in exceptional circumstances, such as where the findings are demonstrated to the satisfaction of the court to be perverse, contrary to substantive law or procedure etc, etc, none of which has been demonstrated to apply to this case.
2. FOR ISSUE 2 THE SUPREME COURT HELD AGAINST THE APPELLANT.
i. It is clear that the contention of learned Counsel for appellant that where an accused pleads guilty to a charge involving drugs the forensic reports cannot be tendered from the bar without calling the maker of the reports or persons related to the making of same, is argument on technicalities which this Court frowns upon. Appellant was caught with the substance and he pleaded guilty after confessing to the offence. He has not changed his plea neither has he withdrawn his confession. The suspected substances were duly forensically tested and reports of the tests tendered and admitted in evidence without objection from appellant.
3. FOR ISSUE 3 THE SUPREME COURT HELD AGAINST THE APPELLANT.
i. Looking at the totality of the evidence on record and the applicable law thereto, it is clear and I hold the considered view that the lower court was right in affirming the conviction and sentence of appellant and that the prosecution discharged the burden of proof having regards to exhibits P1 - P7 and the confessional statement of appellant who pleaded guilty to the charge. In conclusion, I find no merit whatsoever in the appeal which is accordingly dismissed by me.
Section 11c of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act Cap.30 LFN 2004;
S. 55, 90, 102 of the Evidence Act 2011;
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Learned Counsel for appellant is not, in fact, disputing the findings of facts neither is he contending that they are perverse. It is however, settled law that this Court, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, does not make a practice of setting aside concurrent findings of fact by the lower courts except in exceptional circumstances, such as where the findings are demonstrated to the satisfaction of the court to be perverse, contrary to substantive law or procedure etc, etc, none of which has been demonstrated to apply to this case. - Onnoghen, JSC. Abdullahi v. FRN (2016)
The law is trite that public documents can be tendered from the bar, particularly where the procedure is not contested as it is with the case at hand. The appellant, having consented to the procedure adopted, cannot now be heard to complain. It is too late in the day. - Clara Ogunbiyi, JSC. Abdullahi v. FRN (2016)
Where an accused person is charged with a non-capital offence and he pleads guilty thereto, the court is at liberty to adopt a summary trial procedure and convict and sentence him based on the evidence presented by the prosecution. The burden on the prosecution in the circumstance is very light. - KEKERE-EKUN. JSC. Abdullahi v. FRN (2016)
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