Erastus Okoromadu & Anor Vs The State (1975) LLJR-SC

Erastus Okoromadu & Anor Vs The State (1975)

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The two appellants in this suit were convicted for contempt act arising out of their action during the hearing of a civil matter in Suit No. W/115/69 by Atake J., in the High Court of the Mid-Western State at Warri on 5/11/73. Each appellant was sentenced to a term of six months imprisonment.

The appeals were heard on 20/2/75 and dismissed. It was indicated that the reasons for the dismissals will be given later. The civil suit mentioned above came before the lower court on 5/11/73. Mr. Anigboro, learned counsel, appeared for one of the two appellants who was the 1st defendant in the case.

Mr. Akpojaro appeared as counsel for the 2nd appellant who was the 5th defendant. In spite of the legal representations of the two appellants, they personally conducted themselves in a manner that constituted the worst acts of contempt on the face of the court. The 1st appellant even pointed his finger at the face of the judge on the bench.

The learned judge in spite of this outrageous actions of the two appellants nevertheless explained to each of them their right to show cause why he (the judge) should not commit them for contempt and whether they wished to give such explanation in the witness box or the dock. Instead of explaining their reasons both of them repeated the contemptuous words. The Judge was left with no alternative than to commit the appellants.

Their counsel, Messrs. Anigboro and Akpojaro, for reasons best known to them, did not intervene in the ugly episode which took place in their presence, either on behalf of their clients or as officers of court. On appeal before us, apart from referring us to identical grounds of appeal filed, and the relevant proceedings, nothing was canvassed before us as justifying the substance of the grounds of appeal.

In this situation, this court decided not to call on Mr. Gbemudu the learned Director of Public Prosecutions of the respondent, to reply. We have had occasion in a judgment of the Full Court to draw attention to the duty of the court before which a contempt had been committed. We do not wish to comment on the circumstances which led to these incidents, the subject matter of the appeals before us.

We hope however that this will be the end of the regrettable relationship between the bench and the bar in the Mid-Western State.  

As earlier on stated we dismissed the appeals at the hearing and we herein record our reasons for so doing.

Other Citation: (1975) LCN/1990(SC)

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