S’Court Frees Lebanese Over Unlawful Importation Of Firearms In Kano
THE Supreme Court Friday set free Mr. Talal Ahmad Roda, the only Lebanese convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for unlawful importation and storage of prohibited firearms in Kano.
In doing so, the apex court also quashed Roda’s conviction and sentence after holding that the Federal High Court, Abuja Division that convicted him had no authority or jurisdiction to do so.
With this judgment, all the suspects have now been left off the hook, even though firearms were unlawfully imported and stored in Nigeria, given credence to the allegation making the rounds that the prosecution bungled the case.
Roda was on November 29, 2013 sentenced to life imprisonment by a Federal High Court, Abuja Division, having been found guilty of conspiracy.
In setting aside the sentence and conviction of Roda, Justice Musa Muhammad held that since the alleged offences were committed in Kano, the trial ought to have taken place at the Kano Division of the Federal High Court.
He said: “In my considered view, the decision of the Abuja Division of the trial court to try an offence, which took place in Kano and bears no relationship whatsoever with the offence in Abuja, having not stemmed from any provision of the enabling statutes, is manifestly perverse.
“By virtue of Section 45(a) of the FHC Act and the similar provisions contained in Section 64 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the appellant could only be tried by the Kano Division of the trial court within which territorial expanse the offence was committed.
“The absence of any evidence to suggest any understanding between the appellant and others in Abuja or a link between the storage of the firearms at Kano and those in Abuja further disentitle the Abuja Division’s assumption of jurisdiction under sections 45(b)-(e) of the FHC Act and or the similar provisions in the criminal Procedure Act.”
He also held that Roda was not charged under any known law, as the offence of conspiracy is not contemplated under Section 1(14) (a)(i) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation 2004.
Justice Muhammad said: “It is trite that where the prosecution fails to charge an accused person for an offence known to law, an appeal against condition under the incompetent charge will succeed.
“In the sum the appeal succeeds. The proceedings of the lower court and that of the trial court it purports to affirm are hereby set aside.
“The conviction and sentence of the appellant, consequentially are hereby quashed.”