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Home » Nigerian Cases » Supreme Court » Hon. Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji V. Federal Republic Of Nigeria (2018) LLJR-SC

Hon. Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji V. Federal Republic Of Nigeria (2018) LLJR-SC

Hon. Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji V. Federal Republic Of Nigeria (2018)

LAWGLOBAL HUB Lead Judgment Report

EJEMBI EKO, J.S.C.

At the Federal High Court, Lagos the Appellant and one other person were being tried for criminal conspiracy and offences respectively under Sections 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011. The Charges were amended and increased to a total of 54 in the amended charges filed on 7th June, 2013 in the Charge No. FHC/L/422c/2011. The charges relate to acceptance of various cash payments from the Lagos State House of Assembly without going through financial institutions which under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act (MLPA) are each criminal offences.

The Prosecutor, the Respondent herein, called two witnesses [PW.1 & PW.2]. Through the witnesses several documents, Exhibits 1 – 6, were tendered. Thereafter the Respondent closed his case. The Appellant’s counsel, having formed an opinion that the Respondent’s case disclosed no prima facie case, filed an application praying the trial Court to hold that the Appellant, from the Respondent’s case, had no case to answer. The application was heard.

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The Learned trial Judge after a lengthy, and in rather verbose, consideration ruled on 26th September, 2014, that the Appellant had no case to answer. He stated in the ruling that the Respondent failed to present a prima facie case warranting the Appellant being called upon to enter upon his defence. Consequently, the Appellant was discharged.

Respondent, as the prosecutor, promptly lodged his appeal against the no-case Ruling to the Court of Appeal (the lower Court). The Notice of Appeal filed on 22nd October, 2014 by Chief Godwin Obla, SAN had 14 grounds of appeal. The grounds, shorn of their particulars, are as follows-

GROUNDS OF APPEAL:

GROUND ONE:

The learned trial judge erred in law when he held and concluded that counts 2 – 48 are incompetent because they were filed pursuant to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 which said law was repealed by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

GROUND TWO:

The learned trial judge erred in law and came to a perverse decision when it held that in laying counts 2-52 the prosecution merely repeated the allegation in count 1.

GROUND THREE:

The learned trial judge misdirected

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himself in law and came to a wrong decision when it held:

GROUND FOUR:

The trial Court misdirected itself in law and came to a perverse decision when it held thus:

GROUND FIVE:

The trial Court erred in law when it held that evidence of PW2 shows that at all times material to each of the counts no offence was committed by the respondent.

GROUND SIX

The lower Court erred in law and came to a perverse decision when it held thus: “In sum it is the considered opinion of this Court that the prosecution on the no case submission has not made out a prima facie case and the other constitutional issues argued. The prosecution had no answer to the submissions referred to in this ruling.”

GROUND SEVEN

The trial Court erred in law and came to a perverse decision when it held that one of the ingredients of the offence under Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 which the prosecution must prove is that the parties involved must be either natural persons, corporate bodies, or entities other than the office of the heads of any of the three arms of government.

GROUND EIGHT

The lower Court erred in law when it

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held that one of the ingredient of the offence contained in Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and 2011 is that the Appellant must prove that the money involved in the cash payment was derived from money Laundering or drug or human trafficking, terrorism financing bribery and corruption or other illicit or illegal dealings or times.

GROUND NINE

The trial Court erred in law and came to a perverse decision in its interpretation of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and 2011 when it held that to constitute an offence under the said section there must be an involvement in a transaction as defined under the said law.

GROUND TEN

The trial Court erred in law when it refused to follow the decision of this honourable Court in the case of KALU V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2014) 1 NWLR (PT 1389) 479.

GROUND ELEVEN

The lower Court erred in law when it held that the Appellant by using the words “accepting various cash payments amounting to… without going through a financial institution” in the counts at the lower Court had placed an extra burden of proof on the Appellant.

GROUND TWELVE<br< p=””</br<

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The lower Court erred in law when it held and concluded that the case of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the Respondent.

GROUND THIRTEEN

The learned trial judge erred in law when he upheld the no case submission of the Respondent and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice.

GROUND FOURTEEN

The lower Court erred in law when it held that Prosecution first witness (PWI) testified that he knew nothing about the case.

At the lower Court, the Respondent as the appellant, formulated five (5) Issues for the determination of the appeal No. CA/L/1046C/2014 thus

  1. Whether or not the Counts at the trial Court are competent in law [Covering grounds 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 of the Grounds of Appeal].
  2. Whether the trial Court was correct when it arrived at the conclusion that the Appellant did not answer or respond to the constitutional issues raised by the Respondent in his no case application (Covering ground 6 of the Grounds of Appeal.
  3. Whether the trial Court was right in its interpretation of Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act 2011 when it

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held that the said law does not apply to the Respondent who was then the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly and that the prosecution must prove that the cash payment involved was derived from either drug trafficking or terrorism (Covering grounds 7, 8 & 10 of the Grounds of Appeal).

  1. Whether the trial Court was right when it held that the use of the words “cash payment amounting to” and “without going through a financial institution” in the counts placed an extra burden on the prosecution not contemplated by Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Acts 2004 and 2011 (Covering grounds 9 & 11 of the Grounds of Appeal).
  2. Whether the trial Court was right when it arrived at the conclusion that no prima facie case has been made out against the Respondent (Covering grounds 6, 12, 13 & 14 of the Grounds of Appeal).

The Appellant herein was the respondent at the lower Court. Upon his being served, the Appellant’s Brief, settled by Chief Godwin Obla, SAN; the Appellant herein as the respondent filed the Respondent’s Brief, settled by Ikhide Ehighelua, Esq, wherein Notice of Preliminary Objection to the hearing of the

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appeal No. CA/L/1046C/2014 was raised on the following four (4) grounds that:

  1. Grounds 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all incompetent being grounds based on and attacking obiter dicta rather than the ratio decidendi of the ruling appealed against.
  2. The only grounds of appeal which challenge the ratio decidendi of the (Federal High) Court are grounds 5 – 14.
  3. In the Issues formulated by the Appellant the only Issues relating to the actual decision on the No CASE SUBMISSION is Issue 5 and that Issue is bad for proliferation of Issues as the grounds 6 of the grounds of appeal has (sic) been split to argue issues 2 and 5 in the Appellant’s Brief.
  4. Without any competent ground or Issue attacking the actual ruling on the no-case submission, every other ground or Issue is otiose and liable to be discountenanced.

The lower Court, in its ruling on the preliminary objection, agreed with the objector, the present Appellant, that grounds 1, 2, 3 & 4 of the grounds of appeal were incompetent. Those [4) grounds were in consequence, struck out. The other ten (10) grounds of appeal, that is, grounds 5, 6, 7,8,9, 10,11,12, 13 & 14, were held to

See also  Nwobosi V African Continental Bank Limited (1995)LLJR-SC

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be competent. The appeal, sustained by these 10 grounds of appeal, was adjudged competent. The preliminary objection was thus overruled in part.

Two [2] Issues, 4 & 5, formulated by the present Respondent, as the appellant at the lower Court, were said to have been formulated, inter alia from ground 6 of the grounds of appeal. This multiplicity of issues from one ground of appeal amounted to proliferation of issues. The lower Court, apparently reframing Issue 5 had excised, therefrom, ground 6 of the grounds of appeal. Thus Issue 5, as reframed was taken as formulated from grounds 12,13 &14 of the grounds of appeal. Issue 2 formulated by the Respondent, as the appellant was formulated from only ground 6 of the grounds of appeal at the lower Court. In embarking on this blue pencil surgery” of Issue 5 the lower Court, at page 2393 of the Record had stated that the objection to Issue 5 was leaning too much on technicality rather than paying more attention to doing substantial justice, which it did by excising ground 6 in Issue 5.

In the present appeal, the Appellant herein, has made an issue of that exercise of the lower Court reframing Issue

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5 before it by excising therefrom ground 6 of the grounds of appeal. His issue 3.3 before us now is: whether the Court of Appeal was right in holding that proliferation of issues from grounds of appeal is more a technical rule than a fundamental rule

The appellant at the lower Court is enjoined by Order 18 Rule 3(1) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2011 to file his brief of argument which shall contain, inter alia, “what are, in the Appellant’s view, the issues arising in the appeal as well as amended or additional grounds of appeal”. There are no sanctions, in the said Order 18 or anywhere in the Court of Appeal Rules, for framing multiplicity or proliferation of issues from one ground of appeal. I have not seen any from my perusal of the said Rules.

Now if I may ask what prejudice or miscarriage of justice did the Appellant suffer from the lower Court’s reframing of the Issue(s) So long as it does not lead to injustice to any party, Appeal Courts possess that inherent power, in the interest of justice and for the purpose of narrowing down the Issue(s) and making them clearer, accurate and apt in order to be properly addressed, to reject modify or

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reframe any or all issues formulated by the parties. See AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL BANK LTD. v. INTEGRATED DIMENSIONAL SYSTEM LTD. & ORS. (2012) LPELR 9710 (SC). Where the issue(s) formulated by respondent is or are more elaborate, succinct, accurate and apt to the dispute than those formulated by the appellant the Court is free to adopt such issue(s), unless doing so would lead to injustice or prejudice to the appellant. See MUSA SHA (JNR) & ANOR. v. DA RAY KWAN & ORS. (2000) 5 SCNJ 101; (2000) NWLR (pt 670) 685.

This Appellant’s Issue 3.3, distilled from grounds 1 & 2 of his grounds 1 & 2, does not seek to strike down appeal in its entirety, It appears to me, that the Appellant is only addressing academic postulations rather than his addressing any real practical utilitarian issues in the appeal. In otherwords, even if I resolve the issue in favour of the Appellant, the appeal can still be determined on other issues, as the lower Court did. It appears clear to me also, that the Appellant’s issue 3.3, distilled from his grounds 1 & 2, has been erected on mere obiter dictum of the lower Court; the appeal in actuality having not

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been decided on the vexed Issues 4 & 5 allegedly formulated, inter alia from ground 6 of the grounds of appeal at the lower Court. The appeal, at the lower Court, was determined only on Issue 1 formulated by this Appellant, as the respondent at the lower Court. The said Issue 1 and the disputed Issue 5 (at the lower Court) are almost ipssima verba. By this development, the complaint here that the Issue 5 was incompetent had become a spent or moot point, and whatever comments the lower Court made on it were merely obiter.

The Appellant’s counsel, graciously though against interest, has drawn our attention to AGBAKOBA v. INEC (2008) 18 NWLR (pt. 1119) 489, ADEOGUN v. FASHOGBON (2008) 17 NWLR (pt.1115) 149 and PLATEAU STATE v. A.G. FEDERATION (2006) 3 NWLR (pt 67) 346 as authority for when an action or issue is academic or hypothetical. An issue or action is academic or hypothetical when it holds no live matter, or when it holds no practical or tangible value for any pronouncement on it. That is, when any pronouncement on it is a mere exercise in futility. The Appellant on this his issue 3.3, has raised a hypothetical and purely an academic issue. This is

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what makes his raising it an abuse of Court’s process.

Be that as it may, I will still throw some light on the present Appellant’s Issue 3.3. I agree, as submitted by the Appellant’s counsel relying on OKONOBOR v. D. EDEGBE & SONS TRANSPORT CO. LTD. (2010) 17 NWLR (pt. 1221) 181, that appellate Courts frown at proliferation of Issues. See also UNITY BANK PLC v. EDWARD BOUARI (2008) 7 NWLR (pt.1086) 372. However, as recent decisions of this Court, particularly CPL DESMOND ONONUJU v. THE STATE (2013) LPELR 20808 (SC); PATRICK MICHAEL & ORS. v. BANK OF THE NORTH (2015) LPELR – 24690 [SC), demonstrate; the Courts, in their discretion exercised in the interest of justice, when parties proliferate issues from valid grounds of appeal, still reframe issues and determine the appeal on such reframed issues. When the appellant proliferates issues from one ground of appeal, the appeal Court can, in its discretion or at its liberty, elect to prefer and adopt the respondent’s issue that is either not offensive or which is more succinct and clear, as this Court did in PATRICK MICHAEL & SONS v. BANK OF THE NORTH (supra). The purpose of formulating issues for

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determination of the appeal is merely to enable the parties narrow down the issues raised in the grounds of appeal. See LABIYI v. ANRETIOLA (1992) 8 NWLR (pt. 258) 138 at 159; ADELAJA v. FANOIKI (1990) 2 NWLR (pt. 131) 148.

It is not a rule that in every appeal, the Court must inevitably accept issues framed by the appellant as immutable. In appropriate cases, and we do it often, My Lords, the Court may reframe the issues to reflect the substance of the issues formulated by the parties themselves from the grounds of appeal. See NEKA BBB CO. LTD. v. ACB LTD. (2004) ALL FWLR (pt.198) 1175 at 1188. Accordingly, where issues formulated by either the appellant or respondent do not reflect the complaint in the grounds of appeal, the appeal Court can reframe issues from the grounds of appeal and determine the appeal on them. See JOEL OKUNRINBOYE EXPORT CO. LTD. & ORS. v. SKYE BANK PLC (2004) 6 NWLR (pt.435) 518.

This is the juncture to end all discourse of this Issue 3.3 raised and argued by the Appellant. It was clearly misconceived.

The appeal at the lower Court was governed by the Court of Appeal Rules, 2011. Order 6 Rule 2(1) thereof makes it

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clear that all appeals shall be by way of rehearing. Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act, 2004, empowers the lower Court to “have full jurisdiction over the whole proceedings as if the proceedings” were instituted before it “as a Court of first instance and may re-hear the case in whole or part”.

See also  Asuquo V. Udoaka (2021) LLJR-SC

As I earlier pointed out, the appeal was determined on Issue 1 raised by this same Appellant as the respondent at the lower Court. That issue sought a determination: Whether the trial Court was right in upholding the No Case submission It was on this Issue that the Appellant, as the respondent submitted at the lower Court on the authority of IBEZIAKO v. COMM. OF POLICE (1963) 1 ALL NLR 61 at 68 – 69 that –

A submission that there is no case to answer may properly be made and upheld –

a). When there has been no evidence to prove the essential element in the alleged offence.

b). When the evidence adduced by he prosecution has been so discredited by as a result of cross examination or is so manifestly unreliable that no reasonable Tribunal could convict on it.

On this authority, there is no way the lower Court, in considering the appeal

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against the ruling of the trial Court upholding the Appellant’s no-case submission can decide whether or not the no-case submission was properly or improperly upheld without considering the facts on which the No-case submission was predicated. The issue, of course, calls for the invocation of the lower Court’s powers of rehearing under Section 15 of its enabling Act and Order 6 Rule 2(1) of its Rules, 2011. It therefore does not lie in the mouth of the Appellant to submit, as he does, that the lower Court does not have the power to re-evaluate the evidence produced at the trial by the Respondent herein, as the prosecutor.

Since the issue was: whether the trial Court, on the evidence before it, properly or improperly upheld the No-case submission it behooved the lower Court, in the circumstance, to re-evaluate the evidence. In otherwords, the lower Court was right in re-evaluating the evidence in the printed record before coming to its own conclusion that the trial Court was wrong in holding that, on the evidence available on the record, the prosecutor, the present Respondent, had by the evidence he proffered at the trial established a prima facie case

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warranting it to call upon the Appellant as the accused/defendant to enter upon his defence. Accordingly, I do not agree with the Appellant that the lower Court was in error in reviewing and/or reevaluating the facts against the elements of the offences charged viz-a-viz the findings of the trial Court before it could safely determine if, on the facts, the decision appealed was proper or improper, reasonable or unreasonable.

I find no substance in issue 1 argued by the parties including the Appellant herein.

The lower Court had reversed the finding of the trial Court that the Appellant, from the case presented by the Respondent as the Prosecutor, had no case to answer; hence this appeal. The Appellant contends that the lower Court was wrong in reversing the order of the trial Court. The question is: when is a prima facie case said to have been made out by the prosecution to warrant the defendant being called to enter upon his defence

The elements the prosecution must prove for the offences under Sections 1 of either the MLPA, 2004 or MLPA, 2011 are-

i. The defendant is a natural person, not a corporation.

ii. The defendant, an

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individual, made or accepted cash payment in excess of N500,000.00 – in the charge under Section 1 MLPA, 2004. Or, in respect of the charge under Section 1 MLPA, 2011 the amount is N5,000,000.00. That is, if the defendant, an individual, made or accepted cash payment in excess of N5,000.000.00.

The prosecution led evidence through PW.1 and PW.2, and some documents in their effort to establish the allegations brought against the Appellant under the MLPA, 2004 and MLPA, 2011. The PW1 testified that his investigation team recovered cash registers from the Lagos State House of Assembly, including Exhibits P5, P6 and P7. That their analysis of the documents revealed that various amounts in excess of the prescribed statutory threshold were collected by the 2nd defendant who was the personal assistant of the Appellant, on behalf of the Appellant. The 2nd defendant, confronted with this discovery, allegedly admitted it. The PW.1 further testified that his team confronted the Appellant with this same fact upon the discovery and that the Appellant also confirmed his receiving the various cash payments in excess of the prescribed statutory threshold. Exhibits P1 and

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P2, said to be extra-judicial statements of the Appellant admitting the said cash payments, were put in evidence through the Pw.1. Exhibits P3 and P4, also the extra-judicial statements of the 2nd defendant on the receipt of these cash payments on behalf of the Appellant were also admitted in evidence. In their bid to establish that the Appellant and his co-accused received cash payments in excess of the prescribed statutory threshold the prosecution also tendered in evidence Exhibits P5, P6R, P6S and P6T, among other documents.

The various documents tendered as well as the evidence of the Pw.1 and Pw.2, were all produced for one purpose. That is, to establish prima facie that the Appellant has a case to answer in respect of the allegations that he violated the provisions of Sections 1, respectively, of MLPA 2004 and MLPA 2011. I have read the Appellant’s Brief of Argument and his Reply Brief. I have not been able to see where the Appellant could claim that the evidence of the prosecution had been so badly discredited by their cross-examination to the extent that no reasonable Tribunal could act on them. This is one of the reasons trial Courts harp on to

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uphold No-case submissions. See IBEZIAKO v. C. O. P (supra).

The Appellant, apart from the allegation that he received cash payments in excess of the prescribed statutory threshold, is also being prosecuted for conspiracy to commit the crime under Sections 1 respectively of MLPA 2004 and MLPS, 2011. The essential element of conspiracy is the agreement to do an unlawful act, or agreement to do a lawful act by an unlawful means. See DABOH & ANOR v. THE STATE (1977) 2 NSCC 309; OKOSUN v. A. G, BENDEL STATE (1985) 3 NWLR (pt. 12) 283 at 297; ABACHA v. THE STATE (2002) 11 NWLR (pt 779) 437 at 523. It is now trite that the proof of conspiracy is generally a matter of inference, deduced from certain criminal acts of the parties concerned, which acts are done in pursuance of an apparent criminal purpose that is in common between the conspirators. See DABOH & ANOR v. THE STATE (supra) at 319.

My Lords, I have been able to set out the elements of the substantive offences under MLPA, 2004 and MLPA, 2011, and the criminal conspiracy that the Respondent, as the prosecutor, is required to establish in order that a prima facie case would be said to have

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been established. Prima facie means “first appearance”. The phrase, when it is applied to the rule on onus of proof in the law of evidence, means that the case is supported by such evidence, as are available, on every material issue of the offences charged that, if no rebuttal evidence is called; it is sufficient to establish the fact in issue. Thus, as it was stated in POLICE v. AJIDAGBA 3 FSC 5; evidence discloses a prima facie case when the evidence is such that if, uncontradicted, and it is accepted, will be sufficient to prove the case against the accused person. Therefore, if at the close of the prosecution’s case the evidence so far marshaled against the accused is such that if it could be presumed to be true in relation to the fact in issue, unless rebutted or disproved by some other evidence to the contrary; then, a prima facie case has been disclosed to warrant calling on the accused to offer his exculpatory defence. See ONAGORUWA v. THE STATE (1993) 7 NWLR (pt 303) 49 at 81 – 82; TONGO v. COP (2007) 30 NSCQR 180 at 192 – 193.

See also  O.K.O. Mogaji & Ors V. Cadbury Nigeria Ltd. & Ors. (1985) LLJR-SC

Putting it rather negatively, on the authority of FAGORIOLA v. FRN (2013) 17 NWLR (pt. 1353) 322, the Appellant’s

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counsel submits that a no case submission connotes that there is no evidence on which the Court will convict, even if the trial Court believes the evidence adduced by the prosecution. The submission is correct in law. Juxtaposing the facts disclosed by the evidence of the PW.1 and pW.2, and the documentary evidence viz-a-viz the charges the Appellant is defending at the trial Court, I am of the firm view that a prima facie case has been disclosed by the prosecution’s evidence at the trial Court to warrant the Appellant being called upon to offer his defence. I bear in mind that at the stage of a no-case submission, the Court is not called upon to express any opinion on the evidence before it, as to their probative value. All that the Court is called upon to rule on, at this stage, is simply whether there exist legally admissible evidence linking the accused person with the commission of the alleged offence (s); and if the no-case submission is on the basis of some discredited evidence such discredited evidence must be on the face of the printed record and in respect of relevant and material facts. See DABOH & ORS v. THE STATE (supra) at 315. As I earlier

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pointed out in the instant case, the no-case submission was made largely on the basis of there being no legally admissible evidence linking the Appellant with the commission of the alleged criminal offences.

It is submitted by the Appellant’s counsel that the Appellant did the act complained of in his capacity as the Speaker of Lagos State and that the acts “complained of were done legitimately within the ordinary function and duties of the office of the Speaker”. This submission insinuates a corporate crime. That is, an organizational crime committed by a corporation’s representative on behalf of the corporation. It is further submitted that, from the evidence of the PW.1 that “the monies collected were collected by the (appellant) in his capacity as the speaker and for the purpose of his office as speaker”, and that, because of that official purpose, no prima facie case under Section 1 of MLPA 2004 and MLPA, 2011 has been disclosed against the Appellant. It is further submitted that the office of the speaker “is a body corporate” and that unless the act or omission for which the Appellant is being charged falls outside the ambit and duties of the

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speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly” the appellant cannot be criminally responsible for the acts or omission of the said corporate body. These are clearly the defence the Appellant has to the allegations against him. Accordingly, I agree with the Respondent that “these are ordinarily not arguments meant for a no case submission”. I agree. That is the argument the defendant in KALU v. F.R.N. (2012) LPELR – 9287 (CA) advanced. It was rejected as been premature as a defence at the stage of a No-case submission by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court in KALU v. FRN (2016) 9 NWLR (pt 1516) I affirmed the decision.

It appears that the purpose the cash received or accepted in excess of the prescribed threshold statutorily fixed by Section 1 MLPA 2004, or Section 1 MLPA, 2011 is immaterial. Let it not be forgotten that an agreement to do a lawful act unlawfully is also criminal offence. This point caught the attention of the lower Court and at page 2410 of the record it stated the law thus:

(It) does appear to me that the Court below missed the finer point that, the purpose of Section 1 of MLPA, 2004, before its repeal, and (Section 1 of MLPA) 2011

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respectively is in my view and I so hold, to clearly and strictly bar the payments and or acceptance of cash payments above the set threshold irrespective of the purpose and authorization for the payments. Every payment above the threshold amount stated in Section 1, with the coming into effect of MLPA 2004, before its repeal, and MLPA, 2011 must be made through a financial institution to be excluded from the operation of the MLPA. See NYAME v. FRN (2010) 7 NWLR (pt. 1193) 344 at p. 399.

The purpose of paying the money and accepting the money/cash in excess of the prescribed threshold may be lawful in the defendant’s wishful thinking. However, in the penal statute; the payment and or acceptance of cash in excess of the prescribed threshold is illegal or unlawful, if not done through a financial institution. The purpose for either the payment or receipt of cash in excess of the prescribed threshold is not a mens rea defence under the MLPA, 2004 or MLPA, 2011.

Ours, as the judex, is to interpret the law and declare what it is. In interpreting a statute, the object is to discover the intention of the legislature and bring it out. The intention of the

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statute is usually deduced from the language used in the statute. We cannot therefore go outside the words in the language of the statute. Therefore, as this Court held in MALLAM ABUBAKAR ABUBAKAR & ORS v. SAIDU USMAN NASAMU & ORS (2012) LPELR – 7826 (SC) – where the words used are clear and unambiguous they must be given their ordinary plain meaning, so as to avoid reading into the provisions meanings not intended by the lawmakers. See also ISHOLA v. AJIBOYE (1995) 1 NWLR (pt. 352) 506; P. D. P. v. C. P. C & ORS (2011) LPELR- 2909 (SC). Accordingly, in its interpretative jurisdiction the Court does not, and must not interprete a statute by placing a gloss on the provisions by reading into the provisions words neither used, contemplated nor included therein. Thus, as I stated elsewhere in OBI v. OJUKWU & ANOR (2009) LPELR 8511 (CA), when the words of a statute are plain and unambiguous; the plain duty of the Court interpreting the statute, is to bring out its overriding objective. The Court does not have inherent powers to say that the provisions, which are quite plain, mean what do not actually mean nor that the plain meaning should be

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ignored. The statute must be construed to mean what it means or to mean what it is intended to mean and not to mean what it clearly means. See VINOS v. MARKS & SPENCER (2001) 3 ALL E.R 784. Fortunately, the Courts, in their respective jurisdiction, have not yet imbibed the craft or art of “Double Speak”, predicted in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four; Where the Big Brother’s Yes Means No, and His No means Yes.

On the basis of all I have been saying, or trying to say, I find no substance in this appeal. It is accordingly dismissed in its entirety. The decision of the Court of Appeal delivered in the appeal on 26th November, 2014 in the appeal No. CA/L/1046A/2014 and consequently, the order made therein remitting the case “to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to any Judge of the Federal High Court other than Buba J., for expeditious hearing and determination de-novo” are hereby affirmed.


SC.148/2017

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