FRN V OSAHON (2006) 1 LRLR Vol 1 Page 126

                                                                FRN V OSAHON
(2006) 1 LRLR Vol 1 Page 126 (Reprint)
                                                                            Alternative Citation
                                                       (2006) 5 NWLR (pt. 973) 361

The Respondents were charged with various offences under the Miscellaneous Offences Decree (Act) of 1984, before the Federal High Court, Lagos Division. The Respondents filed an application seeking to quash the charge on the ground that only the Attorney-General and officers of his department can institute criminal proceedings against them on behalf of the Government of the Federation in that Court, by virtue of section 174(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution.
The Federal High Court in dismissing the application of the Respondents held that Police officers had the power to prosecute the Respondents on behalf of the Government of the Federation.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and held that the Police officers prosecuting the Respondents before the Federal High Court lacked the competence under section 56(1) of the Federal High Court Act to do so.

Aggrieved, the Appellants appealed to the Supreme Court. The court stated that where two provisions, one each from an Act of National Assembly conflict in relation to the same subject-matter, the conflict cannot be isolated to the two provisions only insofar as there are constitutional provisions on the same matter. In such a situation, the provisions of the Constitution shall govern the interpretation.

In delivering the lead judgement, Belgore JSC stated that he found no conflict between the provisions of S. 23 Police Act and Section 56(1) Federal High Court Act once they are juxtaposed and then read with S.174 (1) of the Constitution. He cited the case of Olusemo v Commissioner of Police (1998) 11 NWLR (pt 575) 547, 558, where Kalgo J.C.A. (as he then was) correctly summed up the situation.

The Supreme Court held and laid down the locus that a Police officer can prosecute by virtue of S.23 Police Act, S.56 (1) Federal High Court Act and S. 174(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. The decision of Court of Appeal was set aside and the ruling of Federal High Court restored.

This principle has been applied in cases such as UMEZINNE V FRN (2013) 42 WRN, TAWAKALITU V FRN (2011) 9WRN, P.58, ARAB CONTRACTORS (NIG) LTD V UMANAH (2012) 28 WRN P.P 91-92.

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