Section 377-400 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Section 377 to 400 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 is under PART 37 of the Act. It is about TRIALS BY WAY OF INFORMATION.
Section 377 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Form of information
An information shall be in the form set out in Form No. 11 in the First Schedule to this Act with such modifications as may be necessary to adapt it to the circumstances of each case.
Section 378 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Contents of information
(1) An information shall contain:
(a) a description of the offence charged in the information or, where more than one offence is so charged, of each offence so charged, and each offence charged shall be set out in a separate paragraph known as count;
(b) a count of an information shall commence with a statement of offence charged.
(c) the statement of offence which shall, briefly describe the offence charged in ordinary language, avoiding where possible the use of technical terms and all the essential elements of the offence, and, where the offence charged is one created by a law, shall contain a reference to that law;
(d) the particulars of offence, which shall be set out in ordinary language;
(e) the law and section of the law against which the offence is alleged to have been committed;
(f) where the law that creates the offence does not give it any specific name, such definition of the offence may be made to give the defendant notice of the offence with which he is charged.
(2) A charge is presumed to have fulfilled every condition required by law to constitute an offence however, where a law limits the particulars of an offence which are required to be given in an information, nothing in this subsection shall require any more particulars to be given than those so required.
(3) Where an information contains more than one count, the counts shall be numbered consecutively.
(4) The forms set out in the Third Schedule to this Act or forms conforming to them as nearly as possible may be used in the cases to which they are applicable.
(5) In other cases, forms to the like effect or conforming to them as nearly as may be used, where applicable.
(6) A statement of offence and the particulars of the offence may be varied according to the circumstances of each case.
Section 379 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Content of information, proof of evidence, etc.
(1) An information shall be filed in the registry of the High Court before which the prosecution seeks to prosecute the offence, and shall include:
(a) the proof of evidence, consisting of: (i) the list of witnesses; (ii) the list of exhibits to be tendered; (iii) summary of statements of the witnesses; (iv) copies of statement of the defendant; (v) any other document, report, or material that the prosecution intends to use in support of its case at the trial; (vi) particulars of bail or any recognizance, bond or cash deposit, if defendant is on bail; (vii) particulars of place of custody, where the defendant is in custody; (viii) particulars of any plea bargain arranged with the defendant, (ix) particulars of any previous interlocutory proceedings, including remand proceedings, in respect of the charge, (x) any other relevant document as may be directed by the court; and
(b) a copy of the form for information on legal representation as provided under section 376(9) of this Act.
(2) The prosecution may at any time before judgment file and serve notice of additional evidence.
(3) The information and all accompanying processes shall be served on the defendant or his legal representative, if any.
Section 380 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Application of rules relating to charges
The provisions relating to charges in this Act shall apply to the counts of an information.
Section 381 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Filing of information
An information may be filed by:
(a) the Attorney-General of the Federation or officers in his office;
(b) a public officer acting in his official capacity;
(c) a private legal practitioner authorised by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
(d) a private person, provided the information is endorsed by a law officer that he has seen such information and declined to prosecute at the public instance and the private person enters into a bond to prosecute diligently and to a logical conclusion.
Section 382 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Assignment of information and issuance of notice of trial
(1) Where an information has been filed in the court, the Chief Judge shall take appropriate steps to ensure that the information filed is assigned to a court for trial within 15 working days of its filing.
(2) On assigning the information, the court to which the information is assigned shall within 10 working days of the assignment issue notice of trial to the witnesses and defendants and a reproduction warrant properly endorsed by the Judge in respect of the defendant charged, where he is in custody, for the purpose of ensuring his appearance on the date of arraignment, and the Chief Registrar shall ensure the prompt service of the notice and information not more than 3 days from the date they are issued.
(3) Where the defendant named in the information is in custody, the notice of trial and the information shall be delivered to him through the officer in charge of the prison in which he is detained, and the warrant for his production shall be served on the officer of the prison.
(4) Where the defendant is not in custody, the notice of trial and the information shall be served on him personally.
(5) Where it is impossible or impracticable to effect personal service of the notice of trial and information on the defendant, they may be served on him, with leave of court, through his legal practitioner, if any, or on his surety or sureties, or on an adult in his household, and the service shall be deemed to be duly served on the defendant.
(6) Nothing in this section shall prevent the defendant from being tried by reason only that the notice of trial and the information were served on him less than three days before the date of trial, where he consents to being so tried.
Section 383 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Information by private person
(1) The registrar shall receive an information from a private legal practitioner where:
(a) the information is endorsed by the Attorney-General of the Federation or a law officer acting his behalf stating that that he has seen the information and has declined to prosecute the offence set out in the information; and
(b) the private legal practitioner shall enter into a recognizance in: (i) such sum as may be fixed by the court, with a surety, to prosecute the information to conclusion from the time the defendant shall be required to appear, (ii) pay such costs as may be ordered by the court, or (iii) deposit in the registry of the court, such sum of money as the court may fix.
(2) Where an application for consent to prosecute is made to the Attorney-General of the Federation by a private legal practitioner and the Attorney-General declines to grant such consent, he shall give his reason(s) for doing so in writing within 15 working days from the date of the receipt of the application.
Section 384 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Conditions for private prosecutors
Where a private legal practitioner has complied with the provisions of section 383 of this Act, the information shall be signed by such private legal practitioner who shall be entitled to prosecute the information.
Section 385 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
The place of trial shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
Section 386 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Change of venue
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 385 of this Act:
(a) where a cause is commenced in any other division than that in which it
ought to have been commenced, it may, notwithstanding, be tried in that
division in which it was commenced, but where the defendant objects,
the court may, where it considers the objection reasonable, transfer the
case to the proper division in which it ought to have been commenced;
(b) the prosecutor or the defendant may, whenever he considers that the ends
of justice so require in any case, apply to the court either to transfer the
hearing from one division to another or from one part of the division to
another part of the same division.
(c) no appeal shall lie from any order of transfer made under this section.
Section 387 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Effect of change of venue
Where a case is transferred from one place in a division to another place in the same division or to another division, the case shall be tried and determined at the place or in the division to which it has been transferred; and all recognizance, subpoenas, and proceedings in or relating to the case are deemed to be returnable at the latter place or division and all witnesses who are or summoned to attend the trial shall be informed accordingly and shall attend at such latter place or division.
Section 388 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Form of notice of trial
The Registrar or any other person directed by the court, shall endorse on, or annex to, every information delivered to the sheriff or proper officer, for service, a notice of trial and such notice shall specify the particular sessions at which the party is to be tried on the Information and shall be in the following form or as near to it as may be:
NOTICE OF TRIAL
A. B. Take notice that you will be tried on the information of which this is a true copy, at the session to be held at………………….on the ………………day of…………. 20…………….
Also find attached is the “Information on Legal Representation” Form which you must complete and return to the Registry of this court within fourteen days of service on you of this notice of trial.
Section 389 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Copy of information and notice of trial to be delivered to Sheriff
The registrar or other proper officer shall deliver, or cause to be delivered, to the Sheriff or proper officer serving the information, a copy, with the notice of trial endorsed on or annexed to it, and where there are more parties charged than one then as many copies as there are parties, together with a similar notice for service on each witness bound to attend the trial.
Section 390 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Time and mode of summoning parties on information
The Sheriff or other proper officer shall on receipt of the information and notice of trial, serve the person named in the notice at least 7 working days before the date specified on the notice.
Section 391 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Service of notice of trial on witness
Notice of trial at the same time shall be served on all the witnesses, and the service of the notice on the witnesses shall be in the like manner as service on a defendant who is not in custody.
Section 392 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Registered courier companies may serve processes
The Chief Judge may engage the services of a reputable courier company for the purpose of undertaking service of criminal processes, and such company shall serve processes in accordance with this Act.
Section 393 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Return of service
The officer of such courier company serving the copy of information and notices shall immediately make to the registrar or other proper officer a return of the mode of service with the necessary endorsement of service on the person named for service on the notice or information.
Section 394 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Warrant where defendant does not appear
Where a defendant against whom an information has been duly preferred, and on whom the information and notice of trial have been duly served, does not appear to plead to the information, whether he is under recognizance, to appear or not, the court may issue a warrant for his arrest.
Section 395 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Law officer or legal practitioner for State and defence in capital cases
Where a defendant is accused of a capital offence or offence punishable by life imprisonment, the State shall be represented by a law officer, or a legal practitioner, and where the defendant is not defended by a legal practitioner, the court shall assign a legal practitioner for his defence.
Section 396 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Time for raising certain objections, day-to-day trial and adjournments
(1) The defendant to be tried on an information or charge shall be arraigned in accordance with the provisions of this Act relating to the taking of pleas and the procedure on it.
(2) After the plea has been taken, the defendant may raise any objection to the validity of the charge or the information at any time before judgment provided that such objection shall only be considered along with the substantive issues and a ruling thereon made at the time of delivery of judgment.
(3) Upon arraignment the trial of the defendant shall proceed from day-to-day until the conclusion of the trial.
(4) Where day-to-day trial is impracticable after arraignment, no party shall be entitled to more than five adjournments from arraignment to final judgment: provided always that the interval between each adjournment shall not exceed 14 working days.
(5) Where it is impracticable to conclude a criminal proceeding after the parties have exhausted their five adjournments each, the interval between one adjournment to another shall not exceed seven days inclusive of weekends.
(6) In all circumstances, the court may award reasonable costs in order to discourage frivolous adjournments.
(7) Notwithstanding the provision of any other law to the contrary, a Judge of the High Court who has been elevated to the Court of Appeal shall have dispensation to continue to sit as a High Court Judge only for the purpose of concluding any part-heard criminal matter pending before him at the time of his elevation and shall conclude the same within a reasonable time.
Provided that this subsection shall not prevent him from assuming duty as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.
Section 397 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Attendance of witness bound by recognizance to attend
A person who is summoned as a witness whether for the prosecution or for the defence, shall be bound to attend the court on the day fixed for the trial of the case and on subsequent dates until the conclusion of the case or until he has been discharged by the court from further attendance.
Section 398 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Warrant for arrest of witness not attending on recognizance
Where a person who has been summoned to attend as a witness, whether for the prosecution or for the defence, does not attend the court on the day fixed for the trial of the case or on any further adjourned date, and he offers no reasonable excuse for his absence, despite the fact that he was duly served with the notice of the trial, the court may issue a bench warrant that the person be arrested and be brought before the court, at a time to be mentioned in the warrant, in order to give evidence on behalf of the prosecution or of the defence, as the case may be.
Section 399 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Warrant for arrest of witness disobeying summons
Where a person named on a summons or writ of subpoena willfully refused to accept service of the summons or writ of subpoena, the court shall issue a warrant for the person to be arrested and be brought before the court at a time to be mentioned in the warrant in accordance with the summons or writ of subpoena.
Section 400 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Fine for non-attendance of witness
A person who fails to attend as witness in either of the cases mentioned in sections 397 and 398 of this Act is liable, on the summary order of the court, to a fine in a reasonable sum to be fixed by the court, but not less than five thousand naira and, in default of payment, to imprisonment for a term corresponding to the fixed sum, but the period of imprisonment shall not exceed a period of one month.