⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
PML (SECURITIES) Company Limited v. Federal Republic Of Nigeria (2018) – SC
– Plea bargain;
– Double jeopardy;
PML (SECURITIES) Company Limited
Federal Republic Of Nigeria
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Amina Adamu Augie, J.S.C.
* FOR THE APPELLANT
– Mr. Oma Ahonaruogho.
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
– Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa Esq.,
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
In a first suit, the prosecution entered into a plea bargain with the 1st accused person (Lucky Igbinedion) in the Federal High Court, Enugu at the proceeding of 18 December, 2008 which is that the accused approached the prosecution for settlement and that necessitated the amendment of the charge.
In that amendment of charge of 18 December, 2008, the number of accused persons were reduced from seven to two and the present appellant was not one of the two and its name was not reflected in the amended charge.
When a new charge was brought against the present Appellant in the Benin Division Federal High Court, he filed an application (double jeopardy) that the court does not have jurisdiction because he has been pardoned for the offence by the fact that Lucky Igbinedion was pardoned; alleging that the Lucky Igbinedion is the principal and that his condonation covers the Appellant.
The High Court dismissed the application for double jeopardy. The Appellant appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
This is a further appeal to the Supreme Court.
1. Whether there was a plea bargain agreement between the appellant and the respondent at the Federal High Court, Enugu?
2. Whether the Court of Appeal was not right in affirming the decision of the trial High Court that the appellant is not entitled to any of the defences of condonation, plea of autrefois convict, doctrine of double jeopardy and abuse of court process.
⦿ ARGUMENTS OF PARTIES (SERIALLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ISSUES)
* FOR THE APPELLANT
1. The appellant’s complaint against the decision is that he is covered by the plea bargain arrangement at the Federal High Court, Enugu, and once Lucky Igbinedion was held to suffer double jeopardy, the same must also go for him, since they were all taken into consideration before the Enugu charge was terminated.
2. The Appellant argued that since Lucky Igbinedion has been condoned, the Appellant being an agent ought to be condoned.
*FOR THE RESPONDENT
1. As it is, the respondent argued that appellant has not adduced strong, compelling and special reasons that would make this Court interfere with the concurrent findings of the two lower Courts that there was no plea bargain agreement between the parties; that the attitude of this Court is that it would not interfere with such findings, unless it is shown to be perverse.
2. The respondent argued that appellant confused the power of EFCC to compound an offence under Section 14 (2) of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act with condonation, which is different; and that “no scintilla of evidence” has been produced by the appellant to show that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accepted or agreed to accept “any sum of money” from it or Lucky Igbinedion.
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. Undisputedly, the appellant personally never suffered a conviction of any kind in respect of any of the charges that came up before the Federal High Court, Enugu. This condition is sine qua non for a plea bargain to be in place between the prosecutor and an accused relying on plea bargain. An accused person, who alleges that he had a plea bargain with the prosecutor, cannot emerge from the matter unscarred or without blemish or stigmatization of conviction. Going by all the arguments or submissions of learned lead counsel, the said appellant has not been shown to have come out worse than when it came before the Court.
ii. It would, therefore, appear indisputable that to the extent that it is the pleas of guilty of Lucky Igbinedion and Kiva Corporation Ltd., that the appellant relies upon in respect of its plea bargain, no plea bargain can be said to have been made between the appellant and the prosecution.
2. ISSUE 2 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. Obviously, the concurrent findings of the two lower Courts are based on sound and logical reasoning, which cannot be faulted. The appellant predicated its entitlement to those defences on a non-existent plea bargain. It did not plead to the amended charge at the Federal High Court, Enugu, and it was never tried, convicted or acquitted by any Court of law for the offences or similar offences contained in the said Benin charge; the appellant did not adduce any evidence of an agreement with EFCC to compound the said offences; there is no evidence that the appellant was pardoned for the acts complained of in the said charge; and the appellant did not also adduce any evidence to show that prosecution or EFCC acted in any way to condone those offences. The said conclusions of the two lower Courts are, therefore, unassailable.
S.163 & 164 of the Criminal Procedure Act;
S. 36 (9) & 36 (10) CFRN 1999;
S. 14(2) EFCC Act;
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
Also, the amended charge dated 17 December, 2008 was filed on 18 December, 2008; and the material date is date of filing, not the date a Party or legal practitioner appended on it. – Augie, JSC. PML v. FRN (2018)
This, in effect means that whenever the prosecution decides to amend a charge before a Court, it can proceed to do so, it then applies to the Court to accept the amendment pursuant to Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Act, and the Court after hearing the parties, may or may not accept or allow the amendment. – Augie, JSC. PML v. FRN (2018)
The main purpose of criminal trial is to ensure that a person, who has chosen to break any aspect of the criminal law, is not left to go scot free and for this reason, the prosecution has to establish the guilt of an accused person beyond reasonable doubt to pave the way for his punishment by law. – Augie, JSC. PML v. FRN (2018)
I agree with the respondent; criminal liability is undoubtedly, personal, it cannot be transferred since the mens rea or actus reus is on the accused. – Augie, JSC. PML v. FRN (2018)
It is well settled that sentiments have no place in judicial deliberations. – Augie, JSC. PML v. FRN (2018)
The content of the provision in Section 14(2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004 is that the following factors are present: 1. The EFCC has the power to compound an offence. 2. The offence to be compounded must be one that is punishable under the EFCC Act. 3. The EFCC can accept money in compounding the offence. 4. The sum of money the EFCC can accept must be that which must exceed the maximum amount to which that person would have been liable to pay if he had been convicted of that offence. – M. Peter-Odili, JSC. PML v. FRN (2018)