Nature of the offence of Terrorism

Karumi v. FRN (2016) LPELR-40473(CA), p. 25, paras. A-D, per IKYEGH, JCA:

“The gravity of the offence of terrorism which involves the use of violence or force to achieve something, be it political or religious, is a grave affront to the peace of society with attendant unsalutary psychological effect on innocent and peaceful members of the society who may be forced to live in perpetual fear. It is an offence that may even threaten the stability of the state. The sophisticated planning and execution of the acts of terrorism show it is an offence that requires premeditated cold-blooded organisation. The circumstances under which such a crime is organised calls for appropriate sentencing to deter its recurrence by potential or prospective offenders.”

Say no to terrorism

Blogger’s Note:

Click here and here for further discussions on the concept of terrorism which is a concept that cannot be easily defined. We are however guided by the opinion of his Lordship quoted above.

Is Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a terrorist organisation?

It is submitted that the Nigerian Military was wrong in declaring IPOB a terrorist group and the South East Governors were wrong in proscribing the association.

In an article, Terrorism and Human Rights Protection: Nigerian Perspective, published in 2015, B. E. Ewulum prophesied: “It is not doubtful that in a short while the nation may witness a barrage of proscription of certain societies and associations in the name of fighting terrorism.” The learned writer proceeded to give an insightful opinion on the necessary steps to be taken before the proscription of a society. He said: “It is therefore very essential that before a society should be proscribed there must be a legislation which will be subject to judicial opinion on the issue where a challenge is raised. As such, the onus must be on the State to show that the measures taken fall within the permissible aims under the national and international human rights law. This implies that States must not claim that the rights-limiting measures taken to preserve national security when they are in fact taken to effectively stifle all opposition or to repress its population. Apart from this, care should be taken to ensure that the principles of necessity and proportionality are respected in all cases; specific safeguards are required to ensure that the limitations to the right to freedom of association are construed narrowly. These measures include ensuring that the principle of legality is respected in the definition of terrorism, terrorist acts and terrorist groups. The courts shall ensure that such definitions are not too wide or vague as such definitions may lead to the criminalization of groups whose aim is to peacefully protect, inter alia, labour, minority or human rights. Any decision to proscribe a group or association needs to be taken case by case, treated on their individual merits or otherwise and no two cases shall be given the same treatment. To do so, there shall be need to ensure that the assessment is based on factual evidence of the group’s activities, which implies that the government may not make the determination before registration has taken place and before the group has started to exercise its activities. The assessment must be made by an independent judicial body, with full notice to the affected group as well as the possibility of appealing the decision.”

Flowing from the above, we maintain that the Nigerian Military and the South East Governors were wrong in their approach.

Biafrans

Photo credit: Channelstv.

Now, regarding the recent military action in the South East, which action has been widely condemned, though supported by some, it is our position that the Federal Government must show maximum respect for the life of every Nigerian. The Nigerian Military, the Police as well as other arms wielding agencies of Government must not put on the character of terrorism which they are mandated to combat; characters such as uncontrollable hunger to maim and destroy even on the slightest provocation must stop.

There is nothing to justify the ultimate decision of the Federal Government to carry out the recent military operations in the South East. This is notwithstanding the style and seemingly thoughtless disposition of IPOB in pushing for Biafra in exercise of their rights to self-determination.

IPOB has severally canvassed, and brilliantly too, that they are open to a  referendum and other peaceful means of determining whether or not the people of the South East region (and other areas mapped as Biafran region) are still interested in remaining in Nigeria, in view of the claims based on marginalization.

Sadly, the IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, does not appear to be employing enough intelligent means to push for this. While he advocates for peaceful means in one breath, in another breath, he sings the songs of war (while keeping his family abroad) in a distasteful manner that ridicules Nigeria. The sovereign state called Nigeria which is peopled by a large population with corresponding right to remain Nigerians must be accorded due regard and respect.

Until Biafra is achieved, it is absolutely wrong to be going about and carrying on as if Biafra is here already. For instance, declaring that there will not be election in Anambra State this year was utter wrong (although this threat has been withdrawn). Without missing the point, asking for Biafra in exercise of the right to self-determination is a serious political question. This means that high level politics need to be played with high level skills. It may take years but it is achievable. For instance, it took a patient play of politics for the peaceful voting that brought about Brexit to take place; so too, the voting concerning the fate of Scotland. Since IPOB and others have often cited these instances as well as other similar examples, it is important to understudy what made the events possible. You need a disposition that will connect not only politicians to the struggle but the large body of elites who detest associating with anything dishonourable. The South East for instance, is rich and blessed with this class of human resources and incredible number of successful businessmen and women who value their investments all over Nigeria and the world.

Finally, the enlightening opinion of Senator Ekweremadu is worth reading. We must learn crucial lessons from developments in other parts of the world. If care is not urgently taken, another civil might be staring at our faces. Indeed, the situation at hand triggered by Nnamdi Kanu through spearheading the Biafran struggle is currently exposing more significant issues concerning our national life. We must give heed to these issues.

No war

 

Avoid plagiarism: A respondent may adopt the brief of a co-respondent.

 

Opeyemi v. Owoeye [2017] 12 NWLR (Pt. 1580) 364 at 393, paras. E-G, per Bage, JSC:

“Let me pause to register our observation on the duplicitous briefs of the two respondents, which are similar in content and context, appearing verbatim and serialization as in the examples of pages 5-9 of the arguments on issue one. This is a point to note in advocacy and brief writing. The 2nd respondent, knowing it has nothing different to canvass in its brief would at best have adopted or rested its position on that of the claimant/respondent as against seeming and obvious plagiarism. We reckon with the date of filing as against purposive dates the documents were signed. The 1st respondent’s brief is dated 24th June, 2013 while the date of the 2nd respondent’s brief is 13th May, 2014 and filed on 5th May, 2014, almost a year after the 1st respondent’s brief which it copied almost verbatim. It paints a picture of a needless, afterthought recourse of a less diligent legal officer.”

Blogger’s Note

Interestingly, the learned Justice of the Supreme Court described the act of the 2nd Respondent as plagiarism. It is doubtful though, if this is actionable plagiarism.

The apex Court has correctly directed on the proper thing to do where a respondent entirely agrees with the arguments in the brief of a co-respondent. This is mostly where the respondents are being represented by different counsel.

Usually, what inspires the approach of counsel such as counsel to the 2nd Respondent is the drive to file something and ensure that he earns his fees. In this wise, the more professional thing to do is to be more diligent by adding something significant to the co-respondent’s brief, whose arguments he largely agrees with. That way, he would have filed a brief of some substance that will further assist the court in determining the case. Otherwise, a mere verbatim copy of a co-respondent’s brief may actually waste the time of the court considering the duplicity.

Any issue for determination of more than 3-4 lines is wrong!

 

Saleh v. Abah [2017] 12 NWLR (Pt. 1578) 100 at 129, paras. C-E, per Bage, JSC:

“We wish to pause a while to observe the seemingly superfluous and overlapping issues formulated by the parties in their briefs of argument. First, any sentence more than 3-4 lines is grammatically inelegant, and putting it straight, wrong. The appellant formulated 8 issues in paragraph 3.0 at pages 7-9 of the appellant’s brief of argument. The average number of each issue, formulated as separate sentence, is 8-10 lines. This is not too elegant. By adopting the issues formulated by the appellant, although this is a sole-appellant appeal; the 3rd respondent also invariably slips into the inelegance of long and inordinate sentences and the surplusage style of brief drafting and writing through overlapping formulation of issues.”

Blogger’s Note

Elegant drafting is one of the most important tools of a successful lawyer. Sometimes, I wonder what some counsel intend to achieve by incoherent presentation of arguments. It does not assist the court in any way. Rather, it can make the job of the court more onerous.  One of the duties of counsel is to assist the court, as ministers in the temple of justice, to resolve disputes.

Click here for more judicial opinions on the importance of good drafting.

Notable Pronouncement: Supreme Court condemns trafficking in young girls.

 

Serah Ekundayo Ezekiel v. A. G. Federation [2017] 12 NWLR (Pt. 1578) 1 at 20, paras. C-E, per Nweze, JSC:

“Permit me, however, to add that it is indeed very worrisome that the insatiable allure of filthy lucre could impel a woman to traffic in young girls (whom the trial court, aptly, described as “mothers of tomorrow”) knowing fully well that the end result would be the ultimate debasement of womanhood: how immoral! how disgusting!”

Blogger’s Note:

Notwithstanding that the Appellant was a first offender, Sanusi, JSC, in his contribution, was of the position that the Appellant deserved maximum sentences for the charges. According to him, “the mere offence of trafficking in persons and more so in young persons should not be taken lightly. It is worse than slavery which was thought as an abomination and abolished.” See page 26 of the report.

Human trafficking especially in young girls (for prostitution, forced labour, and other forms of dehumanising servitude and exploitation) has become a huge problem in Nigeria. Recently, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ekweremadu, decried the high rate of the crime in the country. The Federal Government through the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has been fighting this menace (see recent reports). Even so, the situation has attracted foreign aid.

While poverty, among several other factors account for the increase in the level of this crime, Nweze, JSC believes that ‘despicable greed’ and inordinate craving for wealth inspired the Appellant in the instant case. In a seminal pronouncement, his Lordship, one of the finest Justices of the Supreme Court, stated (at page 21, paras. F-H):

“My lords, before I end this very short judgment in this appeal… permit me to avail the appellant, and all persons of her ilk, of one of those arcane insights I gained from my long and fruitful sojourn in the realm of the history of ideas. It is the profound wisdom ingrained in the aphorism which Social Ethicists left behind for an avaricious humanity, namely, amo habemo habendi crescit – the love of having increases with having. In other words, there would be no limit to the cravings for material things unless people rein in their unquenchable appetite for them. After all, they are notable only for their evanescence!”

I join the world in condemning this evil. Parents should be extremely watchful, careful and protective of their children.

Read:

Human Trafficking in Nigeria: Root Causes and Recommendations.

IMADR Briefing Paper for the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children.

Trafficking of Women and Children in Nigeria: A Critical Approach.

See more.

Featured image credit: Tribune.

In a fundamental rights suit, failure to comply with section 97 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act is not fatal.

 

Ahamefula v. Guaranty Trust Bank Plc & Ors. – Suit No. FHC/L/CS/244/2015, Dagat J.:

“On the issue of not complying with the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act as regards service outside jurisdiction, generally, the processes to be served outside jurisdiction must have an endorsement on it showing that it is to be served outside jurisdiction in compliance with Section 97 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act. The courts have held that where this endorsement is missing the process is voidable and may be set aside on the application of the adverse party. See Odua Investment vs. Talabi (1997) 7 SCNJ 600. Normally, an adverse party need only to file a notice of preliminary objection and take no further step to succeed. However, with the advent of proceedings in lieu of demurrer, the adverse party is forced to file his counter affidavit and other processes. I must state that the 5th Respondent is entitled to petition the court to set aside the service on him, however, this would defeat the objectives of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, 2009 which are special proceedings and which seek to do substantial justice. Kindly see the preamble to the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, 2009. In the interest of justice, I hold that the processes served on the 5th Respondent is proper.”

Order of arrest of ship subsists after fourteen days

Blogger’s Note:

The above statement of the law is as contained in the Judgment of Hon. Justice J. K. Dagat of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, delivered on 28th day of March, 2017.

Continue reading In a fundamental rights suit, failure to comply with section 97 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act is not fatal.

The functions of the NBA are interwoven with the functions of other regulatory bodies in the legal profession.

 

NBA v. Kehinde [2017] 11 NWLR (Pt. 1576) 225 at 246-247, paras. G-E, per Tukur, JCA:

“Let me quickly state here that the regulatory functions of the Legal Profession in Nigeria is not bound up in one Body. It is a duty shared by many including: The Body of Benchers established by section 3 of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. L.11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; General Council of the Bar established by section 1 of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. L.11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; Nigerian Bar Association recognised by sections 8(3) & 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. L.11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; Council of Legal Education established by the Legal Education (Consolidation) Act, Cap. L.10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee established by section 5(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. L.11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; Legal Practitioners Remuneration Committee established by section 15(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. L.11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee established by section 10(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. L.11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; and the Supreme Court of Nigeria. While some of these bodies have narrow powers, with functions that are sealed in water-tight compartments, others like the Nigerian Bar Association have functions which are interwoven with the functions of others…”

NBA interwoven functions with other bodies

Blogger’s Note:

The Respondent, a legal practitioner, sued the Appellant, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), contending that the invitation by the NBA for mandatory or compulsory validation or verification of records of legal practitioners in Nigeria for a fee constitutes an infraction of the statutory role of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Council of Legal Education.

Continue reading The functions of the NBA are interwoven with the functions of other regulatory bodies in the legal profession.

A lawyer has a duty to advise his client against pursuing a useless appeal.

 

Chief John Oyegun v. Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe [2010] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1220) 568 at 581, paras. D-E, per Ogbuagu, JSC:

“It is now settled that where the chances of an appeal succeeding are extremely remote (as in the instant appeal), it behoves counsel in the case to advise his client of the uselessness of pursuing such an appeal which patently lacks merit. See the case of K. R. Textile Allied Products Ltd. v. Henry Stephens Shipping Co. Ltd. & 2 ors. (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt. 95) 115 CA. It is now about thirteen (13) years since judgment was given in favour of the respondent against the appellant who has not shown any reason whatsoever, why he is unwilling to pay a debt/loan he never denied owing.”

Counsel advise

Blogger’s Note:

What happened in the case was that the Respondent loaned some money to the Appellant (free of interest) but the Appellant failed to repay same. On 23rd October, 1996, the High Court of Imo State, Oguta, delivered a Judgment against the Appellant ordering him to pay the money to the Respondent. The Appellant still refused to obey the Judgment of Court. He however decided to appeal the Judgment of the trial Court over 5 years after the Judgment was delivered. His application for extension of time within which to appeal the said Judgment was refused by the Court of Appeal. He further appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that his fundamental right to fair hearing has been breached. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the argument was ‘completely misconceived in the extreme.’ See page 581 of the report. The apex Court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal which held that the Appellant failed to satisfactorily explain the reason for the delay. The Court further held that it would not interfere with the exercise of discretion by the Court of Appeal, noting that ‘in matters of discretion, no one case can be an authority for another and the court, cannot be bound by a previous decision to exercise of discretion in a particular way.’

The Supreme Court thereafter criticised the Appellant’s Counsel for filing the otherwise frivolous appeal. See quotation above.

“Etisalat and The Illogic of CBN and NCC’s Intervention”: A Rejoinder, Reflection and Call to Action.

“…In essence, it is clear that what the CBN and the NCC have done, is not to interfere with the corporate governance of Etisalat (now 9mobile), but to play a key role in ensuring the protection of the overall value of the firm, and the larger stakeholder interest…” Sanford U. Mba.

Sanford U. Mba

Sanford U. Mba, Doctoral researcher on comparative corporate insolvency and restructuring law at Central European University(CEU) writes the opinion below from Budapest. Mba_Sanford@phd.ceu.edu

 

Continue reading “Etisalat and The Illogic of CBN and NCC’s Intervention”: A Rejoinder, Reflection and Call to Action.

A Judge with little or no adequate knowledge of law is better than a corrupt Judge.

 

Makarfi v. Poroye [2017] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1574) 419 at 440-441, paras. G-D, per Saulawa, JCA:

“…Instructively, implicit in the judicial oath subscribed to by all of us judicial officers, fundamentally requires a total commitment to the rule of law, to the dispensation of justice according to law, without fear and favour, affection or ill-will, honestly, faithfully, and according to the Constitution and the laws made pursuant thereto. Such judicial oath equally demands that a judicial officer should not allow himself to be influenced by any extraneous or subterranean consideration whatsoever. As aptly postulated by the Hon. Justice M.M.A. Akanbi, (PCA Emeritus): “Let me say that while a Judge with little or no adequate knowledge of law, may be considered a nuisance, and his lack of understanding and appreciation of the law may constitute an obstacle in the path of justice, yet he is still more tolerable than a CORRUPT JUDGE. For a corrupt Judge is not only a dangerous obstacle, he is an anathema and a DISGRACE to the profession or the institution which he does not deserve to belong.” See M.M.A. Akanbi (PCA Emeritus): The Judiciary and the Challenges of Justice, 1996 at 36.”

Bidding for justice

Blogger’s Note:

What inspired the above notable pronouncement was the decision of Abang j., of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, which was successfully appealed against by the Appellants. In the case, the 1st-9th Respondents had dragged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) (10th and 11th Respondents respectively) to the Federal High Court vide an Originating Summons seeking, among other reliefs, to be recognized by INEC exclusively as the authentic States Executive leaders of the PDP in the South West Zone of Nigeria (that is, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Lagos States) as against the faction of the party led by the Appellants. Although the 1st-9th Respondents made several references to the Appellants in their supporting Affidavit to the Summons, they however failed to join the Appellants to the suit. Continue reading A Judge with little or no adequate knowledge of law is better than a corrupt Judge.

Issue of candidate qualification is a pre-election matter as well as a post-election matter.

 

Dickson v. Sylva [2017] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1573) 299 at 341-342, paras. B-C, per Sanusi, JSC:

“As rightly conceded by the learned silk for the appellant, issue of qualification is a pre-election matter as well as a post election matter. Thus, the tribunal, the Court of Appeal and indeed this court can take cognizance of it. As could be seen from the wordings of section 138(1)(a) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), issue of qualification of a candidate to contest an election could be a ground in an election petition to question election of a declared winner. Such a ground could be fought both at the tribunal as well as at the normal or conventional High Courts as both the tribunal and High Courts have jurisdiction. This court however held in the case of Dangana v. Usman (2013) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1349) 50 at 89 that where an aggrieved candidate or party decides to lodge his or its complaint/suit in the High Court, then he can continue to pursue his grievance up to this apex court which is obviously his final destination or bus stop. But if such candidate chooses to lodge his complaint at the election tribunal, if it is on National or State Assembly election, then the [final] bus stop is the Court of Appeal. In view of the provisions of section 246(3) of the 1999 Constitution. The choice therefore remains with the candidate.”

Henry Seriake Dickson

Photo Credit: Pulse.

Blogger’s Note:

The position of the Supreme Court as stated above is quite explicit.

One important lesson we learnt from the case is that the case presents us with what clearly appears to be an exception. The facts of the case (earlier summarized here in a case involving both parties) are that the Appellant contested an election into the office of the Governor of Bayelsa State and was declared and returned as the winner. The 1st and 2nd Respondents challenged the Appellant’s return at the Election Tribunal.  In his reply to the Petition, the Appellant raised the issue of the qualification of the 1st Respondent to contest the election and his competence to present the Petition on the ground that, in line with section 182(b) of the Constitution, the 1st Respondent had been elected to the office of the Governor of Bayelsa State on two previous occasions and had occupied the seat for more than five years.

The Tribunal dismissed the 1st and 2nd Respondents’ Petition and upheld the return of the Appellant. However, the Tribunal failed to determine the objection raised by the Appellant concerning the qualification of the 1st Respondent to contest the election and his competence to file the Petition.

Dissatisfied,  the 1st and 2nd Respondents appealed and the Appellant also cross-appealed against the part of the Tribunal’s Judgment which failed to determine the Appellant’s objection. The Court of Appeal dismissed both the appeal and cross-appeal.

The Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court contending that the issue of qualification of a candidate to contest an election is both a pre-election and post election matter which is cognisable by the Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. He relied on the case of Dangana v. Usman (supra). Continue reading Issue of candidate qualification is a pre-election matter as well as a post-election matter.

World of recent and rare Nigerian judicial authorities…