Legal Status of Nullified Order of Arrest
The vacation of warrants of arrest, search and commitment to prison on remand against Dr. Akintoye Akindele, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Duport Midstream Company Limited in suit no. CMC/MG/CR/17S/2023 by a Chief Magistrate Court in Nasarawa State sitting at Mararara Gurku is of topical interest.
The Inspector General of Police was the complainant in the suit. By vacating its own order, the court has provided further proof as to the robustness of the judicial system to resist attempts at pressing it into service as a tool for impunity.
There are instances where the police may arrest a person in circumstances where the arrest ought not have been made in the first instance. Such arrests may be nullified by the same court or by courts of equal jurisdiction.
The question which arises is the legal status of such nullified orders of arrest. The grounds for nullification may include defects in the jurisdiction of the court, non- disclosure and/or suppression of crucial information by the police, et cetera.
This publication seeks to lay to rest the status of the unlawful arrest by the police of such a person.
This opinion addresses a pivotal issue:
Can a Magistrate Court in Nasarawa State, for example, lawfully issue warrants and committal orders on the bases of untrue/concealed information from the police concerning alleged offenses committed beyond the court’s jurisdiction?
And, where such orders of arrest are made but subsequently quashed, what is the legal status of the quashed order of arrest?
Jurisdictional authority of Magistrate Courts in Nasarawa State.
The bedrock of the authority of Magistrate Courts in Nasarawa State to issue arrest and search warrants is rooted in the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) of Nasarawa State.
This legal framework, meticulously detailed in Sections 35, 36, 143, and 144 of the ACJL Nasarawa State, provides a precise avenue through which these courts can empower law enforcement agencies to apprehend suspects and secure crucial evidence.
However, it is crucial to acknowledge the limitations stemming from the territorial jurisdiction of these courts.
For instance, the jurisdictional scope of the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Maraba-Gurku, Nasarawa State, is explicitly defined within the official gazette.
Legal Analysis of the Issue
The key issue for determination is as follows: Do Magistrate Courts possess the capability to extend their arm of authority to issue warrants for offences that transpire beyond the territorial confines of their jurisdiction? This question emanates from the bedrock of Nigerian legal principle on the doctrine of territorial jurisdiction.
The landmark case of REX V. SHODIPO 12 WACA 374 resonates adequately with the geographical limitations on jurisdiction.
Territorial Constraints on the Jurisdiction of Magistrate Courts
It is crucial to acknowledge the limitations that govern the jurisdiction of a Magistrate Court in criminal cases.
This jurisdiction is inherently restricted to the geographical scope of its corresponding state, often defined by delineations within magisterial districts where applicable.
In REX v. SHODIPO 12 WACA 374, the facts, circumstances, and rulings of the West African Court of Appeal vividly demonstrate the profound consequences of errors in jurisdiction.
In this case, an appellant arrested in Lagos for a crime committed in Ijoko, situated within the Abeokuta Magisterial District, triggered a preliminary inquiry that resulted in the appellant’s trial in the Lagos Division of the then Supreme Court.
The charge primarily revolved around fraudulent false accounting, as stipulated under Section 6 of the Criminal Code. Central to the appellant’s argument was Section 64 of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance, contending that the preliminary inquiry should have transpired within the Abeokuta Magisterial District, rendering the Lagos Magistrate’s proceedings null. The West African Court of Appeal concurred, establishing that the Lagos Magistrate lacked jurisdiction over the preliminary inquiry. Consequently, all ensuing proceedings, including the Supreme Court trial, were null and void. This fundamental principle of criminal justice administration is further enriched by the 2017 reported case of MATHEW V. THE STATE (2017) LPELR-44072(CA), wherein the Court of Appeal, per FATIMA OMORO AKINBAMI, JCA underscored the essence of jurisdiction as the bedrock of adjudication: “Jurisdiction defines the power of the Court to inquire into facts, apply the law, make decisions and declare judgment. The Constitution and statutes which set up the Courts cloak them with powers and jurisdiction of adjudication which are basically substantive and procedural. Thus, where ingredients of an offence occur outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Court asked to adjudicate over the matter, such a Court will not assume jurisdiction over the offence for apparent lack of jurisdiction.” On this score, it is our opinion and as supported by the order voiding the arrest, that the magistrate, ab initio, lacked the jurisdiction to issue the warrant of arrest as none of the alleged elements of the case occurred within his jurisdiction in Nassarawa State.
Non-Disclosure and Suppression of Facts
The issue of non-disclosure of material facts by the Police to the Magistrate is fatal to the legality of the original warrant of arrest. Complainants in criminal litigation, bear the obligation of offering forthright disclosure of facts before the court.
Where complainants, including the Police hide, distort and or obscure the facts from the Magistrate in order to secure a warrant by such deceit, there are legal consequences for such underhand tactics.
In the case of non- disclosure leading to a remand order, the complainant’s failure to disclose pivotal facts—such as the residence and business activities of both the nominal complainant and the defendant(s) casts a shadow of doubt on the veracity and legality of the proceedings.
This concealment assumes the character of a foundational flaw, jeopardizing the structural integrity of the legal process, and ultimately rendering all acts, proceedings, and orders of the court a nullity.
As upheld by the Supreme Court, per Dr. I.T. Muhammed, JSC in DINGYADI &? ANOR V. INEC & 2 ORS (No. 2) (2010) 18 NWLR (PT. 1224), where it stated:
“The law regarding the position of any judgment or order of court which is a nullity for any reason whatsoever, is that the court in its inherent jurisdiction is entitled ex debito justitiae to have that judgment or order set aside on application of an affected or aggrieved party or even suo motu by the court itself.”
The Court’s Authority to Rectify Its Own Errors
In the final analysis, the law is clear that the courts have the inherent jurisdiction to nullify warrants which it had earlier issued in error.
The case of INTERMARKET NIG. V. ADEROUNMU (1998) 12 NWLR (PT. 576) 131 AT 145 stands as a testament to the court’s ability to undo orders erected on shaky foundations. Furthermore, the court’s capacity to set aside its own decisions upon the emergence of concealed material facts is substantiated in cases like ANAEKWE V. MASHASHA (2001) 12 NWLR (PT. 726) 70 AT 91 PARAS D-F and UNIVERSAL TRUST BANK LIMITED & ORS V. DOBMATSCH PHARMACY NIGERIA LIMITED  156 LRCN 197 AT 216 ZJJ TO 217AK. Embedded within legal doctrine is the principle that a court, upon recognizing concealed material facts that would have significantly influenced its decision, possesses the prerogative to overturn the earlier order.
The potency of concealed facts in corroding the legitimacy of proceedings is underscored by the case of BELLO OGUNDELE & ANOR V. SHITTU AGIRI & ANOR (2009) 12 SC PT 1, 135.
In this pivotal case, the court rendered the judgment of the lower court null and void due to the concealment of crucial facts.
In the words of the court: “The respondents falsely misrepresented the proceedings of Ila Native Court in Suit No HOS/1/79 by concealing the final judgment of that Court, which led to the judgment delivered by the Honorable Justice S.A Oloko in 1981. Consequently, the Judgment of the Lower Court is hereby set aside.”
Similarly, in ANAEKWE V. MASHASHA (2001) 12 NWLR (PT.726) 70, the court observed that: “This court has always the jurisdiction to set aside its own null judgment, or decision… See Chime V. Ude (1996) 7 NWLR (pt. 461) 379 at 438. Where it was held that if the court had acted under misapprehension of facts, the court had the power to set aside its own decision…”
Thus, by implication, when a court corrects its errors by setting aside a judgment or orders made, it is interpreted that such proceedings, judgment, or orders never existed– a total reversal to the circumstances prior to the order made.
In IBRAHIM v. OJONYE (2011) LPELR-3737(CA), the court held that: “It is a cardinal principle of law as submitted by the Appellant’s Counsel, that a judgment remains valid until set aside. However, it is worthy to note that a judgment can be set aside whether it has been executed upon or not. By setting aside a judgment, the said judgment becomes ineffectual and nugatory that nothing can cure it. In that circumstance, both the Court and the parties would revert to or return to their former position before the said judgment was delivered…”
It is evident that when a magistrate court issues orders founded upon concealed facts and pertains to offenses occurring beyond its jurisdiction, the entirety of the proceedings is rendered null and void.
Where such a nullification order has been made, the legal status of the nullified order is that it never existed in the first instance.
The subsequent nullification of such orders underscores the fact that, in the eyes of the law, those orders were as if they were never made.
Therefore, the very act of a Magistrate Court issuing these orders and warrants stands fundamentally illegal, and devoid of legal validity from its inception. As to the defendant, the pathway to seek redress from the complainant, in this case, the Inspector General of Police, for substantial reputational damages and financial losses suffered as a fallout of his detention, is wide open. Depending on how the case plays out in court, it may become a reference point for raising standards of police transparency when seeking a warrant.
Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji is of Blackfriars LLP, a law firm in Lagos.
APC member allegedly shot dead by SDP thugs in Kogi, security agents urged to invite Ajaka
APC member allegedly shot dead by SDP thugs in Kogi, security agents urged to invite Ajaka
SECURITY AGENTS MUST FISH OUT, ARREST SDP THUGS WHO KILLED APC SUPPORTER – KOGI INDIGENES
. CALL ON PRESIDENT TINUBU, GOV. BELLO TO CALL MURITALA YAKUBU TO ORDER
. DON’T TAKE US TO OLD, DARK DAYS, INDIGENES WARN SDP, YAKUBU
Hundreds of Kogi indigenes, on Friday night, called on President Bola Tinubu and Governor Yahaya Bello to immediately put machineries in motion to curtail the excesses of thugs allegedly loyal to the Governorship Candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the state, Muritala Yakubu, accusing them of being behind the gruesome killing of a supporter of the All Progressives Congress in Kotonkarfe and many cases of violence recorded lately in the state.
The over 5000 indigenes, under the auspices of Kogi for Kogites Movement, whose members are drawn from all the 21 Local Government Areas of the state, said from non-partisan information gathered from eyewitnesses at the scene of the event, it was reliably gathered that the SDP thugs attacked APC supporters who were on a peaceful rally in Kotonkarfe on Friday.
In a statement signed by the Coordinator, Kogi for Kogites, Ahmed Ojonugwa, the indigenes said the stock in trade of the SDP under the leadership of Yakubu was “to commit gruesome crimes and turn around to play the victim”.
The statement read in full:
“Miffed by apparent rejection by the people of Kotonkarfe during his rally and visit to the paramount ruler of the town, we have been reliably informed that thugs loyal to the Governorship Candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, committed a sacrilege by gunning down a lady, identified to have defected to the All Progressives Congress two weeks ago from the Peoples Democratic Party.
“From our non-partisan field polls today, September 29, 2023, it was reliably gathered from eyewitnesses that trouble started when the SDP supporters spotted the large crowd of APC supporters who were staging a solidarity walk in support of Alhaji Usman Ododo, the Governorship candidate of the party.
“Armed and hooded SDP thugs started shooting sporadically to disperse the APC supporters who were staging a peaceful walk. It was alleged that one Haruna Abacha, a supporter of the SDP in Kotonkarfe pulled the trigger that ended the life of the APC woman.
“The sacrilegious act of the SDP supporters is condemnable, criminal, undemocratic and should never be allowed to scale the hands of law.
“Their stock in trade is to commit gruesome crimes and turn around to play the victim.
“We call on the Governor of the state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ensure that these strange politicians, who have, right from the beginning of the SDP campaign, shown that they have nothing to offer Kogites other than hate campaign and violence, are seriously cautioned. Perpetrators of this gruesome act must also be immediately fished out and brought to book.
“Has anyone seen the Accord Governorship Candidate, Admiral Jibrin Usman (retd), being involved in this kind of senseless propaganda where human lives are traded? He is a well respected Igala man who has also pointed out the lies of the SDP in public fora.
“We call on the supporters of the APC not to take laws into their hands in the interest of patriotic indigenes. But if things go on this way, true sons and daughters of Kogi State would have no choice but to drag the SDP and its candidate to the highest courts of the land for this evil attempt to drag Kogi State back to the dark days.
“We also call on law enforcement agencies to immediately arrest the said Haruna Abacha and all his collaborators as well as question the security agents attached to the SDP candidate on why they watched thugs unleash mayhem on peaceful and defenceless people. This is unacceptable.”
Gov Abiodun committed to rule of law, democracy”
“Gov Abiodun committed to rule of law, democracy”
The commitment of the administration ofi Governor Dapo Abiodun in Ogun state to ensure the preservation of rule of law, battle corruption and protect tenets of democracy in the country has again been reiterated.
According to a top functionary of the government, apart from prioritising the welfare of the people, the administration is working hard to deepen the people’s beliefs in the nations democratic process.
Kayode Akinmade, a Chief Consultant on Media to the governor, who spoke while answering question of a television programme on Friday, said as a law abiding leader, the governor has always recourse to the judiciary to seek redress for himself and his administration whenever the need arises, rather than engage in self help.
Akinmade stressed that the decision of the governor to approach the court over the matter between him and the impeached chairman of Ijebu East Local Government Area, Wale Adedayo, is a demonstration of his belief in the rule of law and his indisposition to ‘rule of force’.
Adedayo appeared before a Magistrate Court at Isabo, Abeokuta, on a petition filed by the State government against him, over an earlier allegation of diversion of funds meant for Council Areas in the state. Governor Abiodun is insisting that the former Council boss must prove his allegations against his administration or face the the wrath of the law for falsely inciting the people against the government.
Adedayo was arraigned on a two-count charge. According to Akinmade, it is wrong for people to rush to accuse the governor of persecuting Adedayo, who according to him, have “severally apologised to the governor in private while continuing with his ill-motivated misinformation in public.”
“The governor believes that taking Adedayo before the court will deepen our democracy and entrench the rule.of law. Unlike some other people in Governor Abiodun’s shoes who would readily recourse yo sending thugs after and unleashing other forms of violence on those who accused them rightly or wrongly, “our governor decided to seek redress in court. I think he should be commended by all and sundry for this. What he is doing is giving Adedayo a chance to prove his allegations.”
Speaking on the allegation by the impeached chairman that the governor is behind his removal, Akinmade said Adedayo was already facing removal from office before he raised the false alarms.against the governor. “He has already been accused of several impeachable offences before he wrote the letter alleging the governor. He had already reached out to the governor and other leaders of the party to help him stave off his removal. It was when he realized he may not survive the impeachment move that he connived with some other unscrupulous politician in the party to malign the governor and discredit the APC in Ogun state,” Akinmade said.
The Media chief added that claims.by Adedayo that he got zero allocation since he became.chairman of his local government were probed wrong by the FAAC committee in the state when the House of Assembly looked into his petition. He recalled.that other council chairmen in the state also debunked the allegation and even brought Adedayo with them to apologize to the governor for the wrong allegations. “But in spite of all these, he didn’t stop his scripted plot to tarnish the image of the governor. Hence, Governor Abiodun approached the court for redress.”
Speaking further, Akinmade recalled.that the impeached council boss has been in office for more than two years. “One then wonders why he is raising this alarm now. He claimed zero allocation but he has been collecting his monthly N3million security votes regularly. Local government staff in his LGA are not being owed and primary school teachers there are paid as at when due. We all should be asking him to explain what he meant by zero allocation,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu Gifts Palliatives To Lagos Safety Officers Amidst Excitement
LNSC Officers Get Palliatives, Commend Sanwo-Olu
Sahara Weekly Reports That Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu’s has as part of the efforts to ameliorate the effect of the removal of the Petroleum subsidy extended palliatives to Officers of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Agency.
The General Manager of the Agency, Prince Dr Ifalade Oyekan FISN, while overseeing the distribution of the palliative to Non-commissioned Officers of the Agency, expressed delight at the various efforts of the Governor aimed at ensuring Officers of the Agency serve residents and visitors to Lagos State effectively and efficiently.
Ifalade implored the Officers to remember that the palliatives are part of the motivation for a better and more efficient Officer Corp and reciprocate the gesture with dedication and commitment to manifest the safer Lagos vision of the Governor.
He said, “You need to realize that Lagos State has several Agencies and putting you among the priority cadre should motivate you to work with dedication and commitment. A safer Lagos which is the dream of Mr. Governor is achievable and that is why this government puts your welfare at the top of its list of needs, just as it expects you to put the good people and their safety at the top of your priority as Officers.
”Some of the Officers who spoke at the presentation commended Prince Oyekan for his zeal at rebranding the Agency and thanked Mr. Governor for the palliatives. One of the Officers said, “It’s quite amazing the way the Governor treats our Agency. We are one of the Agencies that gets constant attention from him at all critical times; providing necessary tools for our work, improving the welfare and commending our work.
A female Officer said, “I am short of words. I am just short of words. This to many people may look like a token, but I can’t tell you how this will help me as a single mother with an aged mother to feed at home. Thank you, our dear Governor,”.
The distribution will be done in batches, starting from the most vulnerable.
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