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SUNDAY GABRIEL EHINDERO v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA & ANOR

(2017) LPELR-43458(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 15th day of December, 2017

SC.137/2014


Before Their Lordships

IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

JOHN INYANG OKORO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

EJEMBI EKO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

SUNDAY GABRIEL EHINDERO - Appellant(s)

AND

1. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
2. MR. JOHN OBANIYI - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Criminal Law and Procedure.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.

At the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, the appellant and one other are defending a 6-count charge alleging conspiracy to criminally convert public funds and criminal conversion of public funds totaling N16,412,315.00 being interests generated from two fixed deposit accounts.

The Bayelsa State Government made a donation of N557,995,065.00 to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), at the time the appellant was the Inspector General of Police, to enable the NPF purchase equipment for proper policing of Bayelsa State. It appears from the summary of the statement of Olayinka Ayegbayo, an investigator with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission (ICPC), that the appellant and the 2nd Accused had agreed to place and did place N300,000,000.00 and N200,000,000.00 into fixed deposits respectively at Wema Bank Plc and Intercontinental Bank Plc. The two fixed deposits allegedly netted a total of N16,412,315.56 as interests. Mr. Ayegbayo, listed as a witness in the proofs of evidence, would, at the trial, testify inter alia that: when the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria directed the appellant to transfer the money donated by the Bayelsa State to the Federal Ministry of Police Affairs to make the necessary purchases for the Police, the appellant delayed his compliance with the presidential directive until after the maturity of the fixed deposits. When in November 2006, the appellant caused the principal sum donated by the Bayelsa State Government to be transferred to the Ministry of Police Affairs the interests earned from the fixed deposits were not transferred with the principal sum. It is alleged that the appellant and his co-accused conspired and criminally converted the said interests totaling N16,412,315.56 to their personal use. The conversion of this sum forms the crux of the 6 charges the appellant and the co-accused are defending at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

The prosecution has listed Mr. Ayegbayo and three bank managers to testify at the trial. The summary of the proposed evidence was attached to the proofs of evidence. The list of Exhibits to be tendered together with the extra judicial statements of the accused persons, the appellant's inclusive, are also included in the proofs of evidence.

On 6th June, 2012, the appellant filed a motion on notice, by way of preliminary objection, wherein he prayed the trial Court for the following orders-
"1. AN ORDER of this Court dismissing and/or striking out the amended charge for want of jurisdiction.
2. AN ORDER of this Honourable Court quashing the amended charge against the Accused/applicant for want of competency.
3. AN ORDER of this Honourable Court debarring Mr. Paul Ahmed Bassi or any official of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission from prosecuting the 1st Accused/Applicant, they having no constitutional power to do so,
OR
4. AN ORDER of this Honourable Court setting aside its order of 31st May, 2012 granting leave to the complainant/Respondent to prefer charge No. FCT/HC/CR/92/12 against the Accused/Applicant."

The trial FCT High Court heard the application on 21st September, 2012. In the reserved ruling delivered on 21st September, 2012, the learned trial judge dismissed the application in its entirety. The appellant's appeal against the decision of the trial Court was also dismissed by the Court of Appeal sitting at Abuja on 14th January, 2014.

Further dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.


ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal on the following issues:
"1. Whether the High Court of the FCT has the requisite jurisdiction to try the appellant for the offences created by the Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Act, 2000.
2. Whether the charges and the Proofs of Evidence before the trial Court disclose any prima facie case against the appellant to warrant the leave granted and the arraignment of the appellant for the offences charged.
3. Having regards to the provisions of Section 6(a), 26(2) and 61(1) of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000, whether the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and its officers can initiate and prosecute the appellant for offences under the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000."
DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court found no substance in the appeal and it was dismissed. It was thereby ordered that the case against the appellant at the trial Court shall forthwith resume or continue, and shall be given accelerated hearing and the attention it deserves.


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