Clement Akran Vs Inspector General Of Police (1960)
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The appellant was convicted in the Magistrates Court of Lagos on three counts. His appeal to the High Court was dismissed and he has now appealed to this Court.
Three other persons were charged jointly with the appellant and although the appellant was only concerned in three out of the five counts contained in the charge, it will be necessary to set out the charge in full. It read as follows:-
1st Count: That you Clement Akran during the month of September 1958, at Lagos wilfully procured for Udu Udo Idung a duplicate driving licence No. 85259 dated 25th September, 1958 by falsely pretending that the said Udu Udo Idung was the owner of an original driving licence No. 32904 contrary to section 425 of the Criminal Code.
2nd Count: That you Clement Akran and Douglas Nwandi during the month during the month of July 1958 at Lagos wilfully procured for Dick Agbanyin a duplicate driving licence No. 84577 dated 25th July, 1958 by falsely pretending that the said Dick Agbanyin was the owner of an original driving licence No. 64152 contrary to section 425 of the Criminal Code.
3rd Count: That you Clement Akran being a Police constable employed in the public service of Nigeria corruptly obtained a sum of £20 for yourself from Udu Udo Idung for the purpose of issuing a driving licence to the said Udu Udo Idung contrary to section 116(1) of the Criminal Code.
4th Count: That you Dick Agbanyin during the month of July, 1958, wilfully procured for yourself a duplicate driving licence No. 84577 dated 24th July, 1958 by falsely pretending that you lost an original driving licence No. 64152 contrary to section 425 of the Criminal Code.
5th Count: That you Udu Udo Idung during the month of September 1958, wilfully procured for yourself a duplicate driving licence No. 85259 dated 25th September, 1958, by falsely pretending that you lost an original driving licence No. 32904 contrary to section 425 of the Criminal Code.
As the particulars contained in counts 1,2,4 and 5 imply, the case for the prosecution was that the appellant was a police officer, and that he traudulently assisted two of his co-accused, Udu Udo Idung and Dick Agbanyin, to obtain duplicate professional driving licences for themselves by the false pretence that they had previously held licences and had lost them. The third count refers to a bribe which the appellant was alleged to have accepted from Udu Udo Idung for his part in the transaction.
When the holder of a driving licence loses it, the procedure he has to follow in order to obtain a replacement is laid down in regulation 21 of the Road Traffic Regulations, 1948. His first step is to report the loss to the Police and obtain a copy of the entry in the station diary. He then obtains and completes an application on Form P, which is sent, with a copy of his fingerprints in the case of an application for a professional drivers licence, to the Central Motor Registry. There the particulars of the original licence are checked and the fingerprints are compared with those taken at the time the original licence was issued. If these points are found to be in order, the application form is endorsed in the Registry and is sent to the appropriate licensing authority, which then issues a licence, marking it as a duplicate of the original licence. This procedure was ostensibly followed over the two applications with which the present appeal is concerned, and in each case the Form P was endorsed as being in order, but since it is common ground that neither of the applicants had infact ever held a driving licence before it is plain that a proper check cannot have been carried out in the Registry.
On behalf of the appellant Mr. Rotimi Williams admits that by filling up Form P each of the two applicants made a false pretence, but his first Submission is that it was not that pretence which was operative in procuring the issue of the licence. As regards the Lagos Town Council as licensing authority he says it was the endorsement by the Registry, not the pretence made by the applicant, which led it to issue the licence. As regards the Registry, he submits that in the absence of a specific finding as to whether the officials concerned were parties to the fraud or were merely grossly negligent it cannot be said to have been proved that the false pretence made by the applicant was in any way operative in procuring the endorsement. In our view this submission is based on a fallacy. The effect of the endorsement was to confirm the false pretence contained in the application. If the officials in the Registry were parties to the fraud then they were merely repeating the initial false pretence made by their accomplices; if they were not, then the initial false pretence was one of the matters which induced them to sign the endorsement. We regard it as immaterial to the guilt of the appellant to decide whether these officials were fraudulent or not, since, whatever may have taken place in the Registry, what led the licensing authority to issue the duplicate licence was the Form P as a whole, including both the application and the endorsement. On a charge of obtaining by false pretences ‘it is immaterial that the prosecutor was influenced by other circumstances than the false pretence charged’ provided the false pretence charged influenced him in part and materially affected his judgment:
Reg. v. Lince 12 Coxs Criminal Law Cases 451; Reg. v. English 12 Coxs Criminal Law Cases 171. It seems to us evident that the false pretence contained in the Form P materially affected the judgment of the licensing authority, and that is sufficient to sustain the conviction.
Mr. Williams second point turns on the form of the various counts in the charge, in the light of ss 7 and 425 of the Criminal Code. Section 425 deals both with the case of a person who procures a licence for himself and with that of a person who procures a licence for someone else. Counts 1 and 2 of the charge in the present case allege that the appellant procured a licence for Udu Udo Idung and Dick Agbanyin respectively, but the evidence tends to show that if he committed an offence at all it was to aid these two persons to procure licenses for themselves. This would allow him to be charged with actually obtaining licences for the two persons named, by virtue of s.7(c) of the Code, and there is no substance in this ground of appeal, though we would add that it is not clear why counts 1 and 5 and counts 2 and 4 were not combined into counts against the appellant and the other persons named jointly.
As regards the third count, two grounds of appeal were filed. Mr. Williams felt unable to agree in support of the ground which alleged that the Chief Justice in the High Court was wrong in refusing to follow the obiter dictum of Butler Lloyd, J., in R v. Kadiri Layole, 12 N.L.R. 44, as to the elements of an offence under s.116 of the Criminal Code, although as he pointed out to us, it was apparently accepted as correct by the Northern Region High Court in Garba v. L.G.P. (1956) N.R.N.L.A. 32. We agree with De Lestang, C.J., that ‘for a conviction to be had under s.116 it is not essential to prove that the accused received the bribe in order to do or omit to do anything in the course of any specific duty imposed on him’, but we doubt, with respect, whether Butler Lloyd, J., meant more than that to bring a person within s. 116 it must be proved that he was either a peace officer or a person employed in the public service in some capacity not judicial for the prosecution or detention or punishment of offenders. In the present case we agree that the dictum does not help the appellant. It is clear, however, that count 3 of the charge does not specify any offence of which the appellant was to procure or facilitate the commission, and Mr Adediran did not feel able to support the conviction on that count.
The consequence is that the appeal is dismissed in respect of counts 1 and 2.
In respect of count 3 the appeal is allowed, and the conviction and sentence are set aside. The total sentence imposed is reduced from 27 months to 18 months.
Other Citation: (1960) LCN/0880(SC)