Accused person

Where an accused person is charged under a wrong law, the trial and conviction can still stand

Egunjobi v. Federal Republic of Nigeria [2013] 3 NWLR (Pt. 1342) 534 at 579 paras. D-E, per Peter-Odili, JSC:

  • Where an accused person is charged under a wrong law, the trial and conviction will still stand provided the offence for which he was charged was an existing offence under an existing law:
“For emphasis, no matter how defective the section of law or even the legislation itself is, an accused cannot be heard to say that because he was charged under a wrong law, the infraction upon which he is held is covered by an existing law, the prosecution and conviction will stand based on the proper law different from that under which he has taken plea. That is the law and the appellant is not in a position to change it”.

Blogger’s Note:

The important line in the above reasoning of Peter-Odili, JSC is ‘…the infraction upon which he is held is covered by an existing law’. That is to say, so long as the defendant’s actions constitute a crime under an existing law, the requirement of the Constitution is satisfied. According to section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) an accused person can only be charged under a written law.

 

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