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Samuel Nunoo In re Rex V. Jonathan Ade Olujomoye & Anor (1936) LJR-WACA

Samuel Nunoo In re Rex V. Jonathan Ade Olujomoye & Anor (1936)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Summary conviction for perjury under section 139 of Criminal Pro-Divisionalcedure Code—Defendant must be made aware of pith of the chargeCourt.against him—No necessity for recalling witnesses or formulating charge—Proceedings essentially summary.

Held : Appeal dismissed.

There is no need to set out the facts of the case. A. M. Akiwumi for Appellant.

T. A. Brown for Crown.

The following judgment was delivered :BARTON, J.

The appellant, Samuel Nunoo, was a witness at a trial at the Assizes held in Accra and, at the dose of the trial, was sentenced by the presiding Judge to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour for perjury committed when giving his evidence in the witness-box. The proceedings as recorded read as follows :—

” Samuel Nunoo is brought before me to show cause why he should not be committed for contempt in that he committed wilful and corrupt perjury in the box.

” He shows no cause.

” I sentence him to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

” ST. JOHN YATES,

J..,

The grounds of appeal argued before us were :-

  1. That there was no evidence on the record to justify the conviction, and
  2. That the conviction was bad in law in that the record contains no note of the specific words used by the witness which it is alleged were false.

The summary procedure which gives the Court power to commit a person to prison who has been guilty of perjury in a proceeding before it, is contained in section 139 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the relevant part of that section being as follows :—

” The Court, if it appears to it that a person has been guilty of perjury in any proceeding before it, may commit him to prison for any term not exceeding six months with or without hard labour, or fine him any sum not exceeding fifty pounds, or impose both such penalties upon him, in each case such as for a contempt of Court.”

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The section is a reproduction of section 44 of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance, now repealed, and that section was discussed at length by Deane, C. J., in his judgment in InreW. A. Asare Kisseadoo, Div. Court, 1929-31, 49. In that case the learned Chief Justice referring to the judgment of the Privy Council in Chang Hang Kin & Others v. The Judges of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong, 25 T.L.R. 381, held that the words in the section ” as for a contempt of Court ” only indicated that the procedure shall be the same as in a case of contempt and do not mean that the accused cannot be committed for perjury under the section. In the case before the Privy Council the appellants had been committed to prison by the Chief Justice of Hong Kong for corrupt perjury in open Court under the provisions of the corresponding summary procedure in force in Hong Kong. The facts showed that after the verdict was given the Chief Justice directed the eight witnesses, the appellants, to be called forward and then informed them that in his opinion they had been guilty of the most flagrant conspiracy to defraud and were each one guilty of the most corrupt perjury and that he thereupon sentenced each of them to prison for three months. The grounds of appeal were that the appellants were not informed by the Chief Justice as to what state ments made by them respectively constituted the alleged perjury, and on the ground that before sentence was passed upon them they were not given an opportunity of showing cause why they should not be committed. In their judgment the Privy Council held that the language used by the Chief Justice was sufficiently specific to make the appellants aware of the pith of the charge against them, but advised His Majesty that the appeal be allowed on the ground that the Chief Justice, before sentencing the appellants, did not give them an opportunity of giving reasons against summary measures being taken, and that the giving of such opportunity was essential in cases of committal for contempt of Court. In their judgment the Board stated that the provisions of the ordinance contemplated summary proceedings on the spot not involving a statement or trial of specially formulated issues and, with regard to the first ground of appeal in the present case, we are satisfied that there was ample evidence to show that gross perjury had been committed by the appellant and th4t it was unnecessary to recall witnesses and have their evidence repeated, for to do so would be to deprive the proceedings of the summary character which the legislature obviously intended them to possess. This ground of appeal, therefore, fails. With regard to the second ground of appeal, while we consider that, in summary proceedings for perjury under section 139 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is desirable that the accused should be informed of the exact words used by him which it is alleged were false, the decision of the Privy Council to which we have referred is the authority for stating that this may be dispensed with if the gist of the accusation is made sufficiently clear. Applying this principle to the present case, the facts show that the appellant’s evidence was only on one point, namely, that certain policemen who had given evidence for the prosecution had visited the accused at his house the night before he was arrested and that one of them had said that he wanted to buy a metal press. All the policemen in question had denied that they had visited the accused’s house and we are fully satisfied that when at the dose of the trial, the accused was called upon to show cause why he should not be committed for contempt in that he committed wilful and corrupt perjury in the witness-box, he was perfectly well aware of the statement made by him which it was alleged was false.

See also  Rex V. Jonathan Duru (1943) LJR-WACA

We therefore dismiss the appeal.

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