APPEAL – INTERFERENCE WITH CONCURRENT FINDING(S) OF FACT(S) – Instances where the Supreme Court will interfere with concurrent findings of fact(s) by Lower Courts

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The second issue for determination of this appeal, even at the risk of repetition is whether the lower Court was right to have relied on the judgment of the trial Court to uphold the conviction and sentence of the Appellant for criminal breach of trust and cheating having regard to the evidence. I wish to state straight away that the lower Court relied on the judgment of the High Court and not the judgment of the trial Chief Magistrate, since the appeal to it was from the decision of the High Court. Be that as it may, the complaint here is whether the prosecution did establish its case beyond reasonable doubt as to warrant a conviction for cheating and criminal breach of trust contrary to Sections 322 and 312 of the Penal Code. I have reproduced the provision of these sections of the Penal Code elsewhere in this judgment. Mrs. Sokari Davies, the prosecution’s first witness testified as follows:- “I met the accused Person in 2005. He was introduced to me as a consultant in wild animals by a friend, Roland Ahmed who claimed that the accused is his friend that could supply wild animals to us. So when the need arose, l told my commissioner then about him and the commissioner and I invited him during a conference we came to attend in Abuja at Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton Hotel. He come to us and we discussed with him about wild animals we wanted him to supply to us.” In his evidence in chief, the Appellant told the Court that he is a veterinarian and that he holds HND from the College of Agriculture and Animal Science Kaduna. In all this, no one gave evidence that the Ministry of culture and tourism, Rivers State was deceived and fraudulently induced to deliver the three million five hundred thousand naira to the Appellant. Mr. Roland Ahmed who was alleged to have introduced the Appellant as dealer in wild animals was not called as a witness to deny that the Appellant was not a veterinarian and never embarked on supply of wild animals as a business. Since there is no evidence of deceit on the part of the Appellant, the trial Court was wrong in finding him guilty of the offence of cheating. Although it is not in the character of the Supreme Court to interfere with concurrent decisions of two or three lower Courts, however where such decision is unreasonable and cannot be supported by evidence and the law, this Court has a duty to interfere in order to meet the ends of justice. I am of the firm view that the lower Court acted in error, when it affirmed the decision of the Kaduna State High Court which in turn affirmed the decision of the Chief Magistrate’s Court which found the Appellant guilty of the offence of cheating.” per GALUMJE, J.S.C. in THEOPHILUS KURE v. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE (2020-LCER-39163-SC) at p. 17 – p. 19

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