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Clement Nwanchi V. The State (1976) LLJR-SC

Clement Nwanchi V. The State (1976)

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We dismissed this appeal on the 24th day of June, 1976, without calling on the respondent’s counsel to reply to the submissions made to us by the learned counsel for the appellant and we now give our reasons.  

The appellant was tried and convicted on Counts 1 and 2 of a three count charge of corruption by Adewuyi, J. sitting at Makurdi in the High Court of the Benue-Plateau State Judicial Division on the 31st day of May, 1975 and sentenced to a term of two years imprisonment on each count, sentences being ordered to run concurrently. More particularly the charges preferred read:

“(1) That sometime in the month of May 1972 at Igbor within the Benue-Plateau State Judicial Division, you Clement Nwanchi, being a public servant in the Nigeria Police Force, directly accepted from one Dzungwe Ashwe for yourself gratification of N6.00 other than lawful remuneration as a motive for forebearing to do an official act to wit, prosecute the said Dzungwe Ashwe and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 115(a)(II) of the Penal Code.

(2) That on or about the 8th May of July 1972, at Igbor, within the Benue-Plateau State Judicial Division, you Clement Nwanchi, being a public servant in the Nigeria Police Force directly accepted from one Ghande Adom a gratification of N20.00 other than lawful remuneration as a motive for forebearing to do an official act to wit, to prosecute the said Ghande Adom and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 115(a) (II) of the Penal Code.

(3) That sometime in the month of May 1972, at Igbor, within the Benue-Plateau State Judicial Division, you, Clement Nwanchi, being a public servant in the Nigeria Policy Force dishonestly received from one Yorkwe Aweh, the sum of N8.50 which you were not authorised to receive and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 122 of the Penal Code”.

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The appellant being aggrieved by the conviction, appealed to this court on five grounds. Before proceeding further, we find it convenient to give here a brief summary of the facts established before the learned trial Judge.    The appellant was a police constable enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force on 28/11/72 as P.C. No. 16641, as shown in his Service Register, Exhibit 1, tendered by Biojuwan Olumoko, Acting Assistant Superintendent of Police, P.W.1. At all times material to this case, he was posted and attached to the Nigeria Police Post, Igbor, Benue State. On the 8th day of May 1972, Torigwu Aminde (P.W.5), on getting to his farm, found two of his young orange seedlings missing from their position. They had been uprooted. He made a search for them and later found two seedlings he claimed to be the ones stolen from his farm near the compound of P.W.3, Dzungwe Ashwe. He uprooted them and made for the Police Post. There he met the appellant and made a complaint of stealing to him against P.W.3. P.W.3 was identified to appellant and appellant arrested him. Informed of the allegation against him, he denied the charge of stealing and explained that he bought them from one Ingur Gbor. The appellant did not accept his explanation. He detained him and released him on bail after three days after securing his agreement to pay P.W.3 £8 and himself £4. P.W.3 paid P.W.5 £7, cost of the two seedlings and gave £3 instead of £4 gratification to the appellant. The appellant insisted on P.W.3 paying the full £4. Meanwhile, P.W.3 forwarded a petition to the Divisional Police Office, Exhibit 3 dated 14/10/72. The last paragraph of Exhibit 3 is interesting. It reads:   “Grateful the D.P.O. could use his good offices to see that I retained my two young orange trees and my £3 from Clement Nwanchi and £7 from Torigwa Aminde respectively”.

It was written when the appellant demanded the £1 balance and warned P.W.3 that if he did not pay, he would re-arrest and detain him in custody. The contents of this petition were communicated to the appellant and being angered by it, he re-arrested P.W.3 and prosecuted him to conviction in the Grade 2 Area Court at Aliade on 9th day of January 1973. This did not deter the police and they continued their investigation and on completion of the investigation charged and prosecuted appellant in the High Court. With regard to the second charge, the facts disclosed by the evidence are as follows:    The appellant had a sheep which he gave to Bala Ibrahim, P.W.9, for safe-keeping. Later on the sheep disappeared. P.W.9 reported the matter to the appellant, and the accused chased the thieves to the compound of Gbande Adom, P.W.6. There they disappeared, but appellant found the sheep in the yard tied up.

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The appellant untied it and gave it to P.W.9, woke up P.W.6 from his sleep, and after some argument arrested him along with three other occupants of his house and took them to the police station. Atimbi Agire, P.W.7, a neighbour of P.W.6 heard the complaint of appellant to P.W.6 and the arguments that ensued between them. In the evening of the same day, the appellant released P.W.6, and the three others from police custody. A week later, appellant demanded money from them so that he might not proceed with the matter, i.e. investigation and prosecution for stealing. Being thus menaced, P.W.6 gave him £10 in the presence of P.W.7. The appellant picked up the money from the table where he instructed P.w.6 to place the £10 and both P.W.6 and P.W.7 saw him take the money.

The appellant took no more action on the matter. On being charged, the appellant denied receipt of these monies from P.W.3 and P.W.6, and alleged that the story of his demand for the monies and receipt of them was a fabrication.

He explained that it was because he did not complete the investigation of the complaints against P.W.3 before January 1973, a period of over eight months, that P.W.3 was not prosecuted before 9th January 1973. Explaining away the arrest of P.W.6, the appellant said – under cross-examination:   “I see Exhibit 5, page 178; I invited Ghande Adom and three other persons to Igbor Police Post. That was 8/7/72, detained them in a cell and later released them on bail. I only detained them on suspicion.

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They were not charged with actual offence of stealing the sheep. They were brought in the night of January 8. They were detained for questioning. They were brought in the night and the following day were released”. (The underlining is ours).  

In his statement to the police, Exhibit 2, which he adopted as part of the defence, he did not claim ownership of the sheep, although he stated that the sheep was under the care of P.W.9. He also stated that it was P.W.9 who reported the loss and the fact that he found the sheep tied in the compound of P.W.6 before he followed him to the compound and interrogated and arrested P.W.6 and three others. Having considered the evidence before him, the learned trial Judge accepted the evidence of P.W.3 and P.W.4 and P.W.5, and, justifiably in our view, rejected the denial of the appellant that he received gratification of N6.

Other Citation: (1976) LCN/2257(SC)

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