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ADAOHA UGO-NGADI v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

(2018) LPELR-43636(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 9th day of February, 2018

CA/L/348CA/2017


Before Their Lordships

MOHAMMED LAWAL GARBA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

JOSEPH SHAGBAOR IKYEGH Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

ADAOHA UGO-NGADI - Appellant(s)

AND

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Criminal Law and Procedure.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Lagos State. The Applicant along with Appellants in Appeals Nos. CA/L/348C/17, CA/L/348CB/17,and one other person, were charged before and tried by the High Court of Lagos State for offences of Conspiracy and Forgery.

???Twelve (12) witnesses were called and a host of documents were tendered by Respondent in evidence in proof of the alleged offences and after overruling a no-case submission by the accused persons, witnesses and documents were tendered by them in defence of the offences. In the judgment delivered on the 13th January, 2017, the Applicant along with Appellants in the other aforenamed appeals, were convicted of the offences charged while the 3rd Defendant; the other person, was discharged and acquitted. On the 26th January, 2017, the Appellant (who was 2nd Defendant) and the 1st Defendant (who was the Appellant in Appeal No. CA/L/348C/17) were sentenced to a total of Sixty-Nine (69) years imprisonment, to run concurrently in respect of each term imposed for the respective offences.

???The Appellant in Appeal No. CA/L/348CB/17 (which was the 4th Defendant in the Information) was ordered to return to the Federal Government the sum of N754,936,001.78k being the amount it was said to have defrauded the Country in the manner described in Counts 2 and 6 of the Amended Charge. The Applicant being aggrieved by the conviction and sentence by the High Court appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal on the issues raised by the Appellant and couched as follows:

1. Whether the decision of the lower Court to proceed with the trial of the Appellant in the absence of the 1st Defendant (Walter Wagbatsoma) amounted to a breach of right to fair hearing and as such rendered the entire trial a nullity.

2. Whether the lower Court rightly construed Exhibit P5 to be a forged document consequent on which the lower Court found the Appellant guilty to the offences of forgery, conspiracy to forge documents, obtaining money by false pretense and fraud.

3. Whether the lower Court rightly held that the actual volume of PMS supplied by the Appellant was less than the volume of PMS claimed to have been supplied by the Appellant.

4. Whether the lower Court held that the Respondent proved its allegation against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt.

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same. ???However, for being a nullity, the proceedings by the High Court in the trial of the Appellant and other Appellants in Appeals CA/L/348C/17 and CA/L/348CB/17 including the judgment delivered on 13th January, 2017 convicting them of the offences they were tried for and the sentence passed on them on the 26th January, 2017 in the absence of the Appellant in CA/L/348C/17 were thereby set aside. The conviction and sentence of the Appellant in the said judgment were quashed and the Appellant discharged, accordingly.


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