⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Abdul Majeed Nasiru v. Commissioner Of Police (1980) – SC
Abdul Majeed Nasiru
Commissioner Of Police
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Augustine Nnamani, JSC
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
- FOR THE APPELLANT
- FOR THE RESPONDENT
“The Appellant, Abdul Majeed Nasiru, on or about the 14th day of September 1973, at the Poultry Unit Jos within the Benue Plateau Magisterial District being a servant employed in the capacity of a Senior Poultry Development Assistant by the Nigerian Livestock and Meat Authority, committed theft by stealing property, to wit: you stole 3 bags of guinea corn then in the possession of the said Nigerian Livestock and Meat Authority and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 289 of the Penal Code and triable by this Court.
The Appellant was convicted.
The Appellant to the High Court of Northern State of Nigeria, Benue/Plateau.
Whether on finding evidence of conspiracy the trial Magistrate ought to have transferred the case to the High Court, his jurisdiction having been ousted?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
- Judgement was in favour of the Appellant.
i. However, it was conceded by learned counsel for the appellant that the conspiracy, such as I find arises from the evidence, can only be conspiracy to commit theft. This in my judgment falls within section 97 sub-section 1 of the Penal Code since that offence is clearly punishable with imprisonment. In this I agree with the court below. Section 289 of the Penal Code which deals with theft by clerk or servant of property in possession of master or employer prescribed a punishment of imprisonment for 7 years or a fine or both. The Magistrate First Grade has no jurisdiction to try an offence under section 97(1) of the Penal Code. He should have complied with section 160 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code Cap. 30 Laws of Northern Nigeria and transferred the case to the High Court
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
Section 160 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code Cap. 30 Laws of Northern Nigeria provides –
“If in proceedings in a Magistrates Court, at any stage before the signing of judgment in the trial of a case under this chapter it appears to the Magistrate that the case is one which ought to be tried by the High Court, he shall in like manner frame a charge against the accused and in so far as he has not already done so shall complete the procedure laid down in Chapter XVII for inquiry into cases triable by the High Court down to the framing of the charge”.
Chapter VII Appendix A of the Criminal Procedure Code Cap. 30 Laws of Northern Nigeria deals with conspiracy to commit offences. Under the first column therein, criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death or imprisonment is triable in the High Court while criminal conspiracy “in any other case” is triable by a Magistrate of the First Grade and is punishable with imprisonment for six months or fine or both.
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
This Court has repeatedly stated that the appellate court should not substitute its own views of the facts for those of the lower court when it is clear that that lower court has arrived at its findings after a proper appraisal of the evidence. – Augustine Nnamani, JSC. Abdul v. Commissioner of Police (1980)
A Magistrate is not empowered to pick and choose the charges he has jurisdiction to try from a number of charges the facts of the case gave rise to and suppress the other charges, which are outside his jurisdiction. His first duty after hearing the evidence is to frame the proper possible charges. The next duty is, if the charges are not within his jurisdiction to try, to complete the procedure for enquiry into cases triable by the High Court down to the framing of the charge. If the charges are triable by the Magistrate, his duty then is to try the case. – Obaseki, JSC. Abdul v. Commissioner of Police (1980)
If the offender is not charged to the competent court having jurisdiction to try him from any motive whatsoever, there is a denial of justice. If he is tried by incompetent court there is a miscarriage of justice. No incompetent court is tolerated by the Criminal Procedure Code. Since the appellant was tried by an incompetent court, the trial is a nullity. – Obaseki, JSC. Abdul v. Commissioner of Police (1980)