Rex V. Duruibe & Anor (1938)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Judicial Corruption and Acceptance of reward contra. secs. 114 and 115 of Criminal Code—Constituents of latter offence considered by Appeal Court—Evidence of accomplices
Held: Appeal of first appellant dismissed; appeal of second appellant allowed, the charge not being substantiated by the evidence.
There is no need to set out the facts.
A. Soetan for Second Appellant.
First Appellant not present.
C. N. S. Pollard for Crown.
The following joint judgment was delivered :—
KINGDON, C.J., NIGERIA, CAREY AND GRAHAM PAU L, JJ.
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Judge of the High Court in the Enugu-Onitsha Judicial Division given at Okigwi whereby the first appellant, a member of the Northern Isu Native Court, was found guilty of an offence contrary to section 114 of the Criminal Code and the second appellant (the clerk of the same Court) of an offence contrary to section 115 of the Criminal Code.
|The applications of the within which to appeal were granted to them.The charges upon which follows :—
|appellants for extension of time
granted and leave to appeal wasthe appellants were tried were as
” Judicial corruption contrary to section 114 of the Criminal Code.
” PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE.
” Chief Duruibe on or about the 19th day of March, 1938, in the ” Province of Owerri being a Judicial Officer to wit a member ” of the Northern Isu Native Tribunal corruptly received £3 ” from Etigbue on account of his the said Chief Duruibe • undertaking that in his the said Chief Duruibe’s judicial ” capacity he the said Chief Duruibe would not impose a ” sentence of imprisonment upon the accused persons in case ” No. A37/40762: Native Court on the prosecution of ” Uzuoma versus Etigbue, 2. Oguna, 3. Akwari, 4. Akwuohia. ” 5. Oti, 6. Etigbue Akwuohia, 7. Okanu, 8. Okwaraimikiri. ” 9. Ukaonyenukwu, 10. Ukaonyenta, 11. Okwaraonyekwere.
12. Nweke, 13. Ojiukwu and 14. Onyeji all of Umuna.
STAISM:INT OF OFFENCI : SECOND COUNT.
Accepting reward to influence members of a Native Tribunal ” contrary to section 115 of the Criminal Code.
” PARTICULAR, OF 0111114CE.
” Paul Mbam and Chief Duruibe in or about the month of March, ” 1938, in the Province of Owerri, accepted the sum of £6 from ” Etigbue to induce by corrupt or illegal means or by personal ” influence the Northern Isu Native Tribunal or any or all of ” the members thereof to forbear from doing an act which the ” said Northern Isu Native Tribunal was authorised to do in ” the exercise of its jurisdiction namely, to discontinue the ” criminal prosecution in case No. A 14/40747 Native Court on ” the prosecution of Moneke versus 1. Ukaonye, 2. Akwuohia, ” 3. Etigbue, 4. Okwaraonyekwere, 5. Okanu, 6. Ughele, ” 7. Nwaeke, 8. Okwara, 9. Ukaonyenta, 10. Oti, 11. Onyeji, ” 12. Nwauru (f) all of Umuna.”
The appellants both pleaded ‘ Not Guilty ‘ at their trial.
The learned trial Judge found that evidence had not been adduced against the first appellant in respect of the second count and accordingly found him not guilty of contravening section 115 of the Criminal Code. He however convicted the first appellant on the first count and the second appellant on the second count. The second appellant was not charged under the first count.
The first appellant’s grounds of appeal in respect of his conviction on the first count are :—
(1) The verdict was against the weight of evidence
and (2) Misreception of evidence—the prosecution having tendered a document are not entitled to adduce oral evidence to contradict its content. The reception of such oral evidence unduly prejudiced the case for the accused.
There is no substance whatever in these grounds and the first appellant’s appeal is dismissed. As to the second appellant, on the application of his counsel amended grounds of appeal in substitution for the ground set forth in his application for leave to appeal were filed. They are as follows :—
- Verdict was against weight of evidence in that the evidence ” before the Court did not support the conviction.
- The learned trial Judge was wrong in law in convicting the ” second appellant upon the uncorroborated evidence of ” accomplices.
- The learned Judge misdirected himself in holding that
” (a) The inference, however, is inescapable that the second ” accused, for reward, did hold out to, and did in fact ” induce the Northern Isu Native Tribunal to refrain from ” bringing the accused persons in reference to trial and ” that he furthered this design by corruptly failing to call ” on the trial in reference.
” (h) Further evidence, however, of system has also been ” adduced against Mbam (soma accused) in regard to his ” demand for the second sum (i.e. of £9). Evidence as
regards the second sum (i.e. of £9) relates to a count
v.” with which Paul Mbam was not charged and is therefore
Duruibe” inadmissible against him.”
and PaulIn support of the first ground, counsel argued that there was
no evidence to bear out the particulars of the charge. That there
Kingdom,was no evidence of any inducement by corrupt or illegal means or
C.J.by personal influence exercised by the appellant, and that proof
Carey and of such inducement was essential in order to support the conviction.
GrahamThat there was no proof that the Northern Isu Native Tribunal
Paul, j.r. did forbear to continue the criminal prosecution in case No. 14/40747 in which Moneke was the complainant against twelve people of Irmuma including Etigbue, such case in so far as is shown being still pending. That the fact that the case instituted in January, 1938 had not been heard in May, 1938 did not necessarily imply that the tribunal had been influenced.
In support of the second ground it was argued that the evidence of Etigbue and Onyeaka, who paid over the £6 to the second appellant, was that of accomplices and was uncorroborated.
As regards the misdirection alleged in the third ground, counsel for the second appellant contends that what the learned trial Judge referred to as being the inescapable inference was based on false conclusions. The trial Judge having warned himself of the danger of accepting the evidence of accomplices and, in his judgment, having indicated the witnesses whose evidence did afford corroboration went on to say ” In respect of the second accused the documentary evidence which established the fact that the cause in reference was never brought to trial alone suffices. Further evidence, however, of system has also been adduced against Mbam (second accused) in regard to his demand for the second sum (i.e. of £9).” The documentary evidence to which the learned Judge referred was the counterfoil of the summons issued in suit No. 14/40747 and the Native Court record book. The former merely showed the issue and date of the summons and the latter merely disclosed the fact that no entry regarding the suit appeared therein.. That these facts, particularly having regard to other counterfoils in the same book as the counterfoil in question, did not afford any proof or corroboration of the alleged fact that any inducement was offered by the appellant to the Native Court and the evidence of Moneke, the complainant in that case, did afford an explanation as to why the case did not come up for trial.
That what the trial Judge regarded as evidence of system related to the count whereunder the second appellant was not charged and which he was not obliged to meet, and furthermore the appellant had no intimation that the evidence regarding the subject of this charge was being adduced with a view to establishing system, the first reference to system being in the summing up of the Judge.
Crown Counsel appeared in support of the conviction of the accused. With regard to the first ground of appeal in the final paragraph of his judgment the trial Judge says:—
” It is immaterial whether or no Mbam the second ” accused did so induce the Northern Isu Native ” Tribunal to forbear from thus acting in the ” exercise of its jurisdiction. Evidence of the mere ” acceptance of the bribe to this end would have ” sufficed and the second accused Paul Mbam is ” found guilty on the second count of contravening ” section 115 of the Criminal Code.”
As counsel for the second appellant points out, the offence consists of accepting a reward for inducing a Native Tribunal or member thereof to do or forbear to do an act (only the words relevant for the purposes of the argument are used) and that, even if the appellant accepted the reward, there is no proof that any inducement to the tribunal or members thereof was to be offered by him. Even assuming the appellant was, on his own initiative, to prevent or in fact did prevent the case coming on for hearing, that did not constitute an offence contrary to section 115 in that no Native Tribunal or member thereof was to be induced or was induced to act or forbear. This contention in our opinion is sound.
As regards the second ground, the learned trial Judge did find that the evidence of the accomplices was corroborated by that of the first, third and fourth witnesses for the prosecution and by the documentary evidence, but in fact the evidence of these witnesses did not tend to show that the second appellant committed the offence with which he was charged. The evidence of the third and fourth witnesses was solely directed to the charge against the first appellant. The ‘ documentary evidence ‘ to which previous reference has been made herein did not of itself, in the circumstances, constitute corroboration of the story of the accomplices.
The argument of counsel for the second appellant on the ground of misdirection in so far as it is hereinbefore set forth is also, in our opinion, sound.
For these reasons the appeal of the second appellant against his conviction is allowed and the conviction is quashed and it is directed that a judgment and verdict of acquittal be entered.
It is ordered that the second appellant be discharged.