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HON. JUSTICE HYELADZIRA AJIYA NGANJIWA v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

(2017) LPELR-43391(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Monday, the 11th day of December, 2017

CA/L/969C/2017


Before Their Lordships

MOHAMMED LAWAL GARBA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

ABIMBOLA OSARUGUE OBASEKI-ADEJUMO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

HON. JUSTICE HYELADZIRA AJIYA NGANJIWA - Appellant(s)

AND

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Criminal Prosecution of a serving Judicial Officer.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Lagos State; coram AKINTOYE, J., delivered on 23rd June, 2017, against the Appellant's Notice of Preliminary Objection dated and filed on the 13th June, 2017 challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain and determine the instant information against the Appellant.
The Appellant was by a 14 Count information dated 8th June, 2017 charged for offences ranging from unlawful enrichment by a public officer to making false information contrary to Section 82(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No. 11, 2011 and Section 39(2) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004. The Appellant upon being served with the information filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction of the trial Court to hear the case against him mainly on the ground that conditions precedent to the filing of the information had not been fulfilled. In its Ruling delivered on the 23rd June, 2017, the trial Court dismissed the preliminary objection.
Miffed with said Ruling, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.




ISSUES:
Appellant distilled two issues viz:
"1. Whether the lower Court can validly exercise criminal jurisdiction over a sitting judicial officer (the Appellant) whilst still occupying such office without first satisfying the condition precedent of subjecting such judicial officer to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the National Judicial Council as provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
2. Whether in view of the constitutionally guaranteed doctrine of independence of the Judiciary, the lower Court is right in reaching the conclusion that the executive arm of government (acting through the  EFCC or any other authority) can directly prosecute a sitting judicial officer without first following due process as provided for in the Constitution by first referring the matter by way of petition to the National Judicial Council." 

Respondent formulated a lone issue viz:
"Whether in view of the facts and circumstances of this case, it can be said that the learned trial judge lack the requisite jurisdiction to hear and determine the information dated and filed on the 8th day of June, 2017."


DECISION/HELD:
In a unanimous decision, the appeal was allowed. The Ruling of the Lagos State High Court delivered on 23rd June 2017, was set aside. The preliminary objection filed on 13th June, 2017 by the Appellant was upheld and Charge No.LD/4769C/2017 was struck out.


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