Rex V. Zik’s Press Limited (1947)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Criminal Law and Procedure—Corporation—Conviction for seditious offence—Nigeria Criminal Code, section 51 (1) (c)—Criminal Procedure Ordinance,sections 340 (2) (b) and 363—English Criminal Justice Act, 1925, section 33—Criminal Procedure Ordinance, sections 77 and 72—Information signed byCrown Counsel—Criminal Procedure Ordinance, section 275—Constructionof Statutes—Intention of Legislature in Criminal Procedure Ordinance—Application of Criminal Procedure Ordinance, section 363—”In so far as this Ordinance has not specifically provided therefor.”
A corporation was convicted in the Supreme Court on an information charging an offence contrary to section 51 (1) (c) of the Criminal Code. The information was signed by Crown Counsel.
The corporation appealed against conviction on the following grounds :-
- The learned trial Judge erred in Law in applying section 33 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1925, in view of the fact that there is local provision for pleas in our procedure Ordinance.
- The learned trial Judge erred in Law in not quashing the indictment in view of the fact that it was not filed or signed by the Attorney-General in accordance with the requirements of the Law.
The Court dealt with the second ground first and held:
- That there exists a conflict between the various sections of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance dealing with the institution of proceedings in the Supreme Court and the filing of, and trial upon, information and that it must be seen if a latter section or sections, being inconsistent with an earlier section or sections, could be read as a qualification thereof ;
- that section 78 Of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance was intended to be a qualification of section 77;
- that the provisions as to summary trials in Parts XXXIV and XXXV of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance were intended to qualify the provisions of section 275 (b);
- that; therefore, the provisions of sections 77 and 275 were patently susceptible of modification by other enactments within the Criminal Procedure Ordinance and by the obvious intention of the legislature in regard thereto;
- that it is clear that by the enactment of section 340 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance, which is an adaptation of section 2 (2) of the Administration of Justice Act, 1933, the legislature intended to make provision for the institution and trial of charges upon information preferred by direction or with the consent of a Judge such as is provided in England by similar means;
- that the information in this case was properly preferred, that 1yr it criminal proceedings were properly instituted, and that the tria: thereon was properly held in the Supreme Court.
On the first ground of appeal, the Court held:
(i) that it would appear that, prior to the passing of the Administration of Justice Act, 1933, there was in England no specific provision for the recording of a plea in the case of a charge against a corporation. Section 33 of that Act remedied this defect. No such provision having been made in Nigeria, such a case as the present falls plainly within the words ” in so far as this Ordinance has not specifically provided therefor ” in section 363 of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance.