Albert Sogbanmu V. Commissioner Of Police (1948)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Criminal Law—Nigeria Criminal Code, section 116 (1)—Offence relating tothe administration of justice—Meaning of ” administration of justice “.
The expression ” administration of justice ” (which appears in the heading to Chapter XIV of the Nigeria Criminal Code) is not limited to the hearing of cases, but includes steps taken preliminary thereto, including, for example, a complaint made at a police station.
An offence against section 116 (1) of the Nigeria Criminal Code can be committed without any offence having been committed by the person to be improperly assisted by the peace officer or public servant.
Appeal from the Supreme Court of Nigeria (Appellate Jurisdiction). Williams for Appellant.
Field, Crown Counsel, for Respondent.
The following judgment was delivered:
Jibowu, J. This is an appeal from the decision of the Supreme Court, Laws, affirming the conviction of the appellant by the Magistrate, Ebute lifetta, of an
offence under section 116 (1) of the Criminal Code. It is contended on behalf
of the appellant that the conviction was wrong because:—
- No punishable offence had been committed by the second prosecution witness.
- No judicial proceedings had been commenced at the time of the alleged receipt of property by the accused, now appellant.
- There was no evidence that, at the time of the alleged offence, there was, on the part of the accused, anything already done or omitted to be done, or to be afterwards done or omitted to be done by him as required by section 116 (1) of the Criminal Code.
- The decision was altogether unwarranted, unreasonable and cannot be supported having regard to the weight of evidence.
There was abundant evidence before the learned Magistrate to support his findings of fact which were accepted by the Supreme Court and we are unable to hold that the decision was unwarranted or unreasonable.
The fourth ground of appeal therefore fails. The other grounds of appeal turn on the question of the construction of section 116 (1) of the Criminal Code which reads as follows :-
” Any person, who being a peace officer not acting judicially, or being a person employed in the public service in any capacity not judicial for the prosecution or detention or punishment of offenders, corruptly asks, receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain, any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person, on account of anything already done or omitted to be done, or to be afterwards done or omitted to be done, by him, with a view to corrupt or improper interference with the due administration of justice, or the procurement or facilitation of the commission of any offence, or to the protection of any offender or intending offender from detection or punishment is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”
The section is under Chapter XIV ofthe °UAW-Code which is headed “Offences relating to the Administration of Justice “.
It is a section for punishing official corruption of peace officers or persons employed in the public service in any capacity not judicial for the prosecution, detention or punishment of offenders in relation to the administration of justice. The ‘section is not intended by the legislature to cover cases of extortion which are specifically piovided for under Chapters XII and XXXVI of the Criminal Code.
The expression ” administration of justice ” is not limited to the hearing of cases whether civil or criminal in the Courts. It includes steps taken preliminary to the hearing of cases. In criminal matters with which we are here concerned, it starts with the complaint made by the complainant at the police station to officers whose duty it is to hear and investigate such complaints with a view to deciding whether the persons against whom the complaints are made should be arrested, or summoned and taken before the .Court.
Section 116 (1) of the Criminal Code makes it an offence for a peace officer or a public officer charged with the duty of prosecuting, detaining or punishing an offender if he corruptly asks, receives, or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain any property or any benefit for himself or any other person on account of anything already done or omitted to be done, or to be afterwards done or omitted to be done in order to interfere corruptly or improperly with the due administration of justice, or to procure or facilitate the commission of any offence or to protect any offender or intending offender from punishment or detection. The enumeration of the illegal purposes to be achieved by asking for, receiving or obtaining, agreeing or attempting to receive or obtain property makes it plain that an offence under the section could be committed without any offence having been committed by the person to be improperly assisted by the peace officer or public servant and shows also that the commencement of judicial proceedings is not prerequisite. It is sufficient if a complaint of an offence has been made to the police (as was done in this case) which would normally be investigated by the police to enable them to decide whether to prosecute..
There is, therefore, no substance in the first two grounds of appeal.
With regard to the third ground of appeal, there was evidence which the Court believed that the appellant, then a Sergeant-Major of Police, demanded a and some bottles of beer from one Okechukwu Nnabuenyi so that he might not prosecute him for stealing and that £2 and four bottles of beer were accordingly given to him so that he might afterwards omit to institute criminal proceedings against him.
It is not necessary to prove that he had in fact carried out his promise as it is enough to sustain the charge by proving that he had received the illegal gift he asked for for the purpose of refraining from getting Okechukwu Nnabuenyi charged with the offence of stealing.
It is too obvious to require much argument to prove that the receipt of property by a police officer so that he might not institute a criminal proceeding is a corrupt and improper interference with the administration of justice. The third ground of appeal also fails.
The conviction of the appellant under section 116 (1) of the Criminal Code is therefore right and his appeal is therefore dismissed.