LawPavilion Online


Back

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION v. ISRAEL OMOMOH & ORS

(2018) LPELR-43945(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Monday, the 26th day of March, 2018

CA/IB/85C/2015


Before Their Lordships

CHINWE EUGENIA IYIZOBA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

HARUNA SIMON TSAMMANI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

NONYEREM OKORONKWO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION - Appellant(s)

AND

1. ISRAEL OMOMOH
2. IMOLE AGITAN
3. SUNDAY TUWATIMI - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on the Offences of Unlawful Possession of Firearms and Ammunution, Conspiracy and unlawful dealing with Petroleum Products.
FACTS:
The appeal is against the judgment of the Federal High Court Ogun State, Abeokuta in Suit No. FHC/AB/10C/2013 delivered on the 11th day of December, 2014 Coram Ogunbanjo J. wherein all the Respondents were discharged and acquitted of the offences of conspiracy and unlawful dealing in petroleum products; and the 3rd Respondent alone discharged and acquitted of being in possession of ammunition to wit live cartridge without permit or license.
The Prosecution's case was that on the 9th of January, 2013, some officers of Nigerian Security & Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) went with an informant to Magboro Oil Pipeline restricted area to recover some exhibits. On the waterway leading to the Pipeline they saw a canoe with five men in it. There were many jerry cans of 50 litres and sacks in the canoe. It was alleged that the canoe was coming from the direction of the pipeline and facing the shore. As soon as the canoe moved closer, they were stopped by the officers of NSCDC who asked them what they were doing on the water way with a canoe containing many jerry cans and sacks attached to it. It was alleged that the Respondents' cohorts who hid in the bush started shooting at the officers thus distracting them. This gave the occupants of the canoe the opportunity to jump into the water way and swim off. After they escaped and the gun shots coming from the surrounding bush had stopped, the officers with the aid of informants with them paddled the canoe to the shore of the Waterway and retrieved the 50 litres jerry cans and sacks where they discovered that the jerry cans and sacks were filled with Premium Methylated Spirit popularly known as Petrol. 
???
The Prosecution alleged that with surveillance and the aid of Officers of NSCDC who were at the scene of crime and who had recognized the fleeing suspects, the first two Accused Persons Israel Omomoh and Imole Agitan were arrested and charged to Court on the 8th day of February 2013. They were arraigned on the 27th day of February 2013 for the Offences of Conspiracy and Unlawful Dealing in Petroleum Product contrary to Section 3(6) and Section 1 (17) (A) (B) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M 17 LFN 2004. The Accused Persons pleaded not guilty to the 2 Counts. 

The 3rd Accused Person was arrested about the 9th day of February 2013 and was allegedly identified by the officers of NSCDC who were at the scene of crime at the time. It was further alleged that the 3rd accused was also found in possession of ammunition, live cartridge without permit. Upon his arrest, the original charge was amended to include his name and also a 3rd Count of possession of ammunition to wit; live cartridge without permit or licence against the 3rd accused only. The amended charge was filed on the 26th day of March 2013 and read to all the Accused Persons on the 29th day of April 2013 in the absence of their counsel. All the three Accused Persons pleaded not guilty to the first two Counts of Conspiracy and Unlawful Dealing in Petroleum Product while the 3rd Accused Person pleaded guilty to the 3rd Count of being in possession of ammunition to wit live cartridge without permit or license.

The three accused persons denied all the allegations pertaining to counts 1 & 2. They denied knowing each other before the arrest. The 1st accused said he was visiting relatives in Arepo when he was arrested. The 2nd accused said he was in the house of his younger brother in Arepo when he was arrested. The 3rd accused was arrested in his house. He admitted being in possession of two cartridges without licence. He said they were given to him by the Security Agency where he worked. 
At the trial, the Prosecution called five witnesses and tendered several exhibits. The three accused persons testified and called two other witnesses. Following an application made by the Defence Counsel, the Court visited the locus on the 14th day of March, 2014. Proceeding at the locus was not recorded. The Court ordered the parties to file written addresses which were duly adopted. On 11/12/14, the Court delivered judgment discharging and acquitting the accused persons on all the three counts. 

The Appellant being dissatisfied with the judgment, filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal. 




ISSUES:
The Court of Appeal determined the appeal on the Appellant's issues as follows:
1. Whether or not the learned trial Judge was right when he discharged and acquitted the 3rd Accused Person of the offence of possession of live ammunition without a licence. 
2. Whether or not the learned trial Judge properly evaluated the evidence before her in the case against all the Accused Persons.

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the appeal succeeded in part. The judgment of the trial Court discharging and acquitting all the Respondents on counts 1 and 2 was affirmed while the judgment discharging and acquitting the 3rd Respondent on count 3 was set aside. In its place, the 3rd Respondent was convicted on count 3 and sentenced to imprisonment for one year or to a fine of N100, 000.00 (One hundred thousand naira). 



Read Full Judgment