MOHAMMED V. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE (2017)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 15th day of December, 2017

SC.625/2014

Before Their Lordships

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
AMIRU SANUSI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

USAINI MOHAMMED – Appellant

AND

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE – Respondent

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SIDI DAUDA BAGE, J.S.C. (Delivering the Leading Judgment): This is an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Jos Division delivered on 30th June, 2014, wherein the Court below dismissed the Appellant’s appeal against the judgment of the High Court which had earlier confirmed the conviction of the Appellant by the Upper Area Court sitting in Mangu, Plateau State on the offence of dangerous and reckless driving under Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act, Cap 135 of the Laws of Federation, 1990.The Court below found that the procedure for summary trial as provided under Sections 156 and 157(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code was duly complied with, and proceeded to affirm the conviction of the Appellant.
SUMMARY OF FACTS
The Appellant on the 4th February, 2012, was driving a stretched vehicle (a truck), along Mangu Road when he was involved in a fatal accident in which the passenger of a Motor cyclist road user was killed while the rider himself sustained injuries while driving his Motor Cycle as a result of the most unfortunate mishap. The Appellant was then tried before the Upper Area Court sitting in Mangu in Plateau State for the offence of causing death through dangerous driving under Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act.
The First Information Report (F.I.R.) on which the Appellant was tried and convicted by the Upper Area Court, states thus:
“CAUSING DEATH BY DANGEROUS DRIVING on the 4/02/2002, at about 16:30 hours along Mangu-Jos road, at opposite INEC office, Mangu being a Federal Highway.”
“You Useini Mohammed “M’ of Anglo Jos, South LGA drove your vehicle Mercedes Benz truck with registration number AA 873 DDA in a dangerous and reckless manner and knocked down one cyclist by name Ayuba Dusah “M’ of Tul village Mangu L.G.A., on his Jincheng Motorcycle. As a result of the accident the occupant of the motorcycle by name Kilyobas Dusah ‘M’ of the same address died at the spot. While the rider sustained minor injury on his body (and) you thereby committed traffic offence contrary to Section 5 of the Federal Highway Act suggested (sic).”

Inelegance of charge was not enough to clog the hands of justice. The charges were read and the Appellant, then an Accused person, confirmed the allegation, by declaring thus:
“The allegation is true 
because I drove the car dangerously and so caused the death of the motorcyclist that I knocked down. I am sorry. I was actually reckless.”
The Upper Area Court in accepting the guilty plea and the request of the Prosecuting Police Officer, held thus:
“The accused person having accepted liability or having admitted committing the offence of driving his vehicle Mercedes Benz truck with registration number AA 873 DDA in a dangerous manner under Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act, Accordingly, this Court hereby exercises the discretionary powers conferred on it by Section 157(1) of the CPC, Section 8(2) of the Federal Highway Act and the Criminal Procedure (Punishment on Summary Conviction) Order 1987 to convict the accused person and he is hereby convicted and shall be sentenced.”

Following the conviction of the accused person, now Appellant by the trial Court on the 14th May, 2012, the plea of allocutus was then taken from the Convict/Appellant. On 14th May, 2012, judgment was delivered thus:
“Plea of leniency is taken into account but the fact still remains that the outcome would have been milder if the accused was not reckless on his own part. The convict is hereby sentenced to 6 months jail term without an option of fine. Appeal lies to the High Court of Justice within 30 days of this sentence.”
Being dissatisfied with the judgment, the Appellant filed an appeal before the Plateau State High Court on the ground, among others that the Upper Area Court erred in law when it convicted the accused person and sentenced him to a term of six (6) months imprisonment on the basis that he admitted the offence for which he was charged and pleaded guilty, and despite offering adequate explanation on the circumstances of the accident.
At the High Court, the Court, Per Hon. Justice D.D. Longji, in a judgment delivered on 18th March, 2013, dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the summary trial conducted by the trial Judge was in accordance with the provisions of Sections 156 and 157(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.), and thereby affirmed the conviction of the Appellant by the Upper Area Court.
Still being dissatisfied, the Appellant decided to try his luck at the Court of Appeal. On 30th June 2014, the Court of

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Appeal also unanimously dismissed the appeal. Despite concurrent conviction by the Upper Area Court, High Court and Court of Appeal, the Appellant decided to explore his right of further appeal to this Court, being the last in the judicial hierarchy of this country.
ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION
The Appellant formulated two issues for determination at pages 3-4 of the Appellants Brief dated 9th October, 2014: –
“ISSUE ONE (1)
Whether the mandatory provision of Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) was complied with by the Upper Area Court, Mangu before embarking on summary trial. This issue is distilled from Grounds 2 and 3 of the Appeal.”
ISSUE TWO (2)
“Whether the Court of Appeal was right when it held that the Upper Area Court complied with Sections 156 and 157(1) of the CPC to warrant the confirmation of the Appellant’s conviction. This issue is distilled from Grounds 1 and 4 of the Appeal.”

The Respondent commendably adopted the two issues formulated by the Appellant in its Respondent’s Brief of 5th May, 2016.
However, for the purpose of this appeal, I have formulated a sole issue for determination:
“Whether the mandatory provisions of Section 156 and 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) were complied with in convicting the Appellant who had pleaded guilty to the offence for which he was charged.”
CONSIDERATION AND RESOLUTION OF THE ISSUE:
The contention of the learned Counsel to the Appellant is essentially hinged on the fact that the provisions of Sections 156 and 157(1) were not complied with to the extent that the operative word used in both provisions is “shall”, and same was not adhered to by the trial Upper Area Court before convicting the Appellant.
The Learned Counsel to the Appellant cited the Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, at page 1375 which defines the word shall as:
“As used in statistics, contract or the like, this word is generally imperative or mandatory. In common or ordinary parlance, and in its ordinary signification, the term “shall” is a word of command.”
The Learned Counsel for the Appellant cited the decisions of this Court in TABIK INVESTMENT LIMITED VS. GTB PLC (2011) 17 NWLR, Pt. 1276, page 240 at 259, paragraphs F-G and the case of ABUBAKAR VS. NASAMU (No. 1)(2012) 17 NWLR part 1330, PAGE 407 at 458 in arguing, vehemently, that the word “Shall”, in the context of this matter meant a compulsory and mandatory word that ought to have been complied with by the trial Upper Area Court. He contended that since the FIR read to the Appellant did not contain the particulars of the offence of “dangerous and reckless driving”, Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.), was not complied with. He submitted that non-compliance in this circumstance was fatal.
The learned counsel for the Appellant argued that the trial Upper Area Court misapplied the provisions of Section 157(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.) and the case of HASSAN ALABI VS. THE STATE (2007) NWLR pt. 376 at 376 to the appeal at hand. Counsel contended that the lower Court failed to consider the fact that there were issues in the appeal which did not arise in HASSAN ALABI’S case and that the Lower court particularly failed to consider the fact that the trial upper Area Court did not follow due procedure while dismissing the Appellant’s appeal.
In closing, the learned counsel urged this Court to hold that the provisions of Section 156 and 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.), were not followed by the Upper Area Court and that the Lower Court ought not to have upheld the conviction of the Appellant. Counsel then urged this Court to set aside the judgment of the lower Court, quash the conviction of the Appellant and allow the appeal.
In his response, the learned Counsel for the Respondent submitted that the wordings of Sections 156 and 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code are precise and unambiguous. He cited the case of UGOCHUKWU DURU VS. FRN(2013) 2 SCNJ, page 377 at 392, paragraphs 20-13. He submitted further that summary conviction connotes trial of an accused person based on his or her admission. Counsel quoted the provisions of Section 20 of the Evidence Act.

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The Respondent contended further that not only did the Appellant admit committing the offence but he affirmed guilt and further pleaded for leniency. In amplifying this position, the learned Counsel to the Respondent cited the  case of JIMOH VS. THE STATE (2014) 3 SCNJ page 1 at 7, paragraph 4 on the issue of confession as well as the case of GARUBA VS OMOKHODION (2011) 6 SCNJ page 334 at 367, paragraph 25-30, which the learned Counsel relied upon in justifying the fact that parties are bound by the record of proceedings, which, in the instant case, according to him, indicate that the Appellant had unequivocally admitted the offence for which he was convicted and pleaded for leniency.
The Respondent’s Counsel submitted that the trial Court complied fully with the provisions of Sections 156 and 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.) and that the Appellant was rightly convicted of the offence of dangerous driving pursuant to Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act. This is because, according to the learned Counsel to the Respondent, the Appellant did not complain of any error in the First Information Report (F.I.R.) filed against him on the basis of which he was convicted on his own admission. Counsel cited the provisions of Section 222 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.) which states thus:
No error in stating either the offence or the particulars required to be stated in the charge and no omission to state the offence or those particulars shall be regarded at any stage of the case as material, unless the accused was in fact misled by such error or omission and it has occasioned a failure of justice.”

Counsel contended further that, the Court can only set aside the conviction if it has occasioned a miscarriage of justice by the provisions of Sections 288 and 382 of the Criminal Procedure Code CPC, which state respectively thus:
SECTION 288 OF THE CPC
“A Court exercising appellate jurisdiction shall not in exercise of such jurisdiction interfere with the finding or sentence or other order of the lower Court on the ground that only that evidence has been wrongly admitted or that there has been a technical irregularity in procedure, unless it is satisfied that a failure of justice has been occasioned by such admission or irregularity.”
SECTION 382 OF THE CPC:
“Subject to the provisions herein before contained, no finding, sentence or order passed by a Court of competent jurisdiction shall be reversed or altered on appeal or reviewed on account of any error, omission or irregularity in the appeal or reviewed on account of any error, omission or irregularity in the complaint, summons, warrant, charge, public summons, order, judgment or other proceedings before or during trial or in any inquiry or other proceedings under the Criminal Procedure Code unless the appeal Court or 
reviewing authority thinks that a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned by such error, omission or irregularity.”
In his concluding arguments, the learned Counsel to the Respondent further argued that the Appellant’sallocutus for leniency further reinforces his plea of guilt and has failed to show that concurrent findings by Upper Area Court, High Court and Court of Appeal down the stairs of our judicial structure are or was perverse. On concurrent findings, the learned Counsel cited the case of MAJOR NICKSON STANLEY DONG & ORS VS A.G ADAMAWA STATE & ORS (2014) 2 SCNJ, page 557 at 580.

On the whole, the learned Counsel to the Respondent urged this Court to affirm the decision of the Court below by holding that the provisions of Sections 156 and 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.) were duly complied with in the Appellant’s conviction.
I now turn to answer the sole issue in this appeal, that is:
“Whether the mandatory provisions of Section 156 and 157(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) were complied with in convicting the Appellant who had pleaded guilty to the offence for which he was charged.
In this regard, I will proceed to set-out the exact provisions of Sections 156 and 157 are the issues in this appeal. Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.) provides thus:
“When an accused person is brought before the Court, the particulars of the offence of which he is accused shall be stated to him and he shall be asked if he has any cause to show why he should not be convicted.”
Similarly, Section 157(1) is to the effect that:

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“If the accused admits that he has committed the offence of which he is accused, his admission shall be recorded as nearly as possible in the words used by him and if he shows no sufficient cause why he should not be convicted, the Court may convict him accordingly, and in that case it shall not be necessary to frame a formal charges.”
In the instant case, as shown on page 27 of the Record of Proceedings, the Appellant in clear and unambiguous language affirmed and acknowledged his guilt. There is no better way of crystallising the provisions of Sections 156 and 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.). The Appellant clearly understood the offence which he wholly admitted in specific and definite words. His plea for leniency (allocutus) was also neither ambivalent nor unguided as contained in page 97 of the record of appeal.
The effect of the above is that, as rightly held by the Court below, recourse was had to the forthrightness of the Appellant in admitting his guilt which earned him gross and remarkable diminution from what would have been a 7 year sentence to mere six (6) months imprisonment. To the extent that the provisions of Sections 156 and 157(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.) are clear and unambiguous, they must be so declared and affirmed by this Court. This stems from the fact that the duty of Court, is to interpret the statute in accordance with the intention of the law makers. In UGWU VS ARARUME (2007) 12 NWLR (pt. 1048) 367 at 498 this Court stated thus: –
“A statute, it is always said, is “the will of the legislature” and any document which is presented to it as a statute is an authentic expression of the legislative will. The function of the Court is to interpret that document according to the intent of those who made it. Thus, the Court declares the intention of the legislature.”
Courts generally have deliberately shifted away from narrow technical approach to justice which characterized some earlier decisions to now pursue the course of substantial justice. See MAKERI SMELTING CO. LTD. VS. ACCESS BANK (NIG.) PLC (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt.766) 447 at 476-477.
“The attitude of the Court has since changed against deciding cases on mere technicalities. The attitude of the Courts now is that cases should always be decided, wherever possible on merit. Blunders must take place from time to time, and it is unjust to hold that because a blunder has been committed, the party blundering is to incur the penalty of not having the dispute between him and his adversary determined upon the merits.”
See also AJAKAIYE VS. IDEHIA (1994) 8 NWLR (Pt. 364) 504, ARTRA IND LTD. VS NBC 1 (1997) 1 NWLR (PT. 483) 574, DAKAT VS. DASHE (1997) 12 NWLR (pt. 531) 46, BENSON VS. NIGERIA AGIP CO. LTD (1982) 5 S.C 1.
The fact of this appeal is such that leaves us with no alternatives than to affirm that which the Upper Area Court, High Court of Plateau State, and the Court of Appeal sitting in Jos have severally and consistently upheld. The law is that the Supreme Court will not interfere with concurrent findings of facts made by the trial Court and the Court of Appeal unless such findings are perverse; or are not supported by the evidence; or are reached as a result of a wrong approach to the evidence; or as a result of a wrong application of evidence; or as a result of a wrong application of any principle of substantive law or procedure.” SEE ARABAMBI vs. ADVANCE BEVERAGES IND. LTD. (2005) 19 NWLR (PT.959) 1 per Onnoghen, J.S.C. (pt. 46, C-E). See Also OCHIBA VS. STATE (2011) 12 SC (Pt. IV) P.79″ Per Rhodes-Vivour, J.S.C. (pp. 51-52, paras. F-B). See also CAMEROON AIRLINES VS. OTUTUIZU 2011 12 SC (pt. III) p.200; OLOWU vs. NIG. NAVY (2011) 12 SC (Pt. II) P. 1; AROWOLO VS OLOWOOKERE & 2 ORS. 2011 11-12 SC (Pt. II) P.98.
The above finding also becomes inevitable given the provisions of Section 222 of the CPC to the effect that:
“No error in stating either the offence or the particulars required to be stated in the charge and no omission to state the offence or those particulars shall be regarded at any stage of the case as material, unless the accused was in fact misled by such error or omission and it has occasioned a failure of justice.”
Also compelling are the provisions of 288 and 382 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C.), which state respectively (repeated for emphasis):
SECTION 288 OF THE CPC
“A Court exercising appellate jurisdiction shall not in exercise of such jurisdiction interfere with the finding or sentence or other order of the lower Court on the ground that only that evidence has been wrongly admitted or that there has been a technical irregularity in procedure, unless it is satisfied that a failure of justice has been occasioned by such admission or irregularity.”
SECTION 382 OF THE CPC:
“Subject to the provisions herein before contained, no finding, sentence or order passed by a Court of competent

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jurisdiction shall be reversed or altered on appeal or reviewed on account of any error, omission or irregularity in the appeal or reviewed on account of any error, omission or irregularity in the complaint, summons, warrant, charge, public summons, order, judgment or other proceedings before or during trial or in any inquiry or other proceedings under the Criminal Procedure Code unless the appeal Court or reviewing authority thinks that a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned by such error, omission or irregularity.”
The admission and confession made by the Appellant simply just made the job of the trial Court easier. He should be commended for this, and I honestly think he had been duly compensated by gross reduction of what would have amounted to 7 years imprisonment to 6 months imprisonment. This is because, by virtue of the provisions of Section 28 of the Evidence Act, confessional statement is tenable and admissible. The section describes a confessional statement thus:
“A confession is an admission made at any time by a person, charged with a crime tending to show or suggest the inference that he committed the crime.”
Confessional statement is the best evidence to ground conviction and, as held in a number of cases, it can be relied upon solely where voluntary. The criminal guilt of an accused person could be established by confessional statement, circumstantial evidence and evidence of an eye witness. A confessional statement of the Appellant that was free and voluntary led to the crystallisation of the procedure stipulated under Section 156 and 157 of the CPC, which were duly applied as held above. A confessional statement does not become inadmissible even if the accused person denied having made it. This has been the settled position in our jurisprudence of criminal justice. See for example PATRICK IKEMSON & 2 ORS VS. THE STATE (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 110) 455 at 476 para D; JOSEPH IDOWU VS. THE STATE (2000) 7 SC 50 at 62; (2000) 12 NWLR (Pt. 680), at 48, NKWUDA EDAMINE VS. THE STATE (1996) 3 NWLR (pt. 438) 530 at 537 para D-E; SAMUEL THEOPHILUS VS. THE STATE (1996) 1 NWLR (Pt. 423) page 139 at 155 para A-B; AND AWOPEJU VS. THE STATE (2002) 3 MJSC 141 AT 151.
This Court, per the Learned Onnoghen JSC (as he then was; now CJN) in PETER ILIYA AZABADA VS. THE STATE(2014) ALL FWLR (PART 751) 1620, PARA B has made it abundantly clear in the following words:
“The confessional statement of an accused, where it is direct, positive and unequivocal as to the commission of the crime charged, is the best evidence and can be relied upon solely for conviction of the accused person. An accused person can be convicted on his confessional statement alone, where the confession is constant with other ascertained facts which have been proved.” Confession in criminal procedure is the strongest evidence of guilt on the art of an accused person. It is stronger than evidence of an eye witness because the evidence comes from the horse’s mouth who is the accused person. There is no better evidence and there is no further proof. Therefore where an accused person confesses to a crime in the absence of an eye witness to the killing, he can be convicted on his confession alone once the confession is positive, direct and properly proved. In otherwords, a free and voluntary confession of guilt, direct and positive and if duly made and satisfactorily proved, is sufficient without corroborative evidence so long as the Court is satisfied as to the truth of the confession.”
In view of the foregoing, it is our considered view that the judgment of the trial Court cannot be faulted at all and the lower Court was right in affirming and endorsing it. The Appellant has failed to convince us that this is a situation in which this Court should interfere.” See also MINI LODGE LTD VS NGEI (2009) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1173) 254 Per Musdapher, J.S.C. (as he then was) (P.33, Paras. B-D).

It is in view of the foregoing that I hold that this appeal lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed. The conviction and sentences of the Appellant by the Court below are hereby reconfirmed.
OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR, J.S.C.: I have had the advantage of reading in draft the leading judgment delivered by my learned brother, Bage, JSC. I am in complete agreement with his reasoning and conclusion that appeal should be dismissed. It is also dismissed by me.
MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI, J.S.C.: I am at one with the judgment just delivered by my learned brother Sidi Dauda Bage JSC and to register my support I shall make some remark.

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This appeal is from the Court of Appeal, Jos Division which dismissed the appellant’s appeal from the High Court which in turn had confirmed the conviction of the appellant before the upper Area Court, Mangu, Plateau State on the offence of dangerous and reckless driving under Section 5 of the Federal Highway Act.
The background facts of this appeal are stated hereunder, viz:
STATEMENT OF FACTS
The appellant was tried before the upper Area Court Mangu in Plateau State for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving contrary to Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act, Cap 135, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990. For the purpose of clarity, the First Information Report (FIR) for which the appellant stood trial in the Upper Area Court Mangu read thus:
“Causing death by dangerous driving on the 4/02/2012 at about 1630 hrs along Mangu-Jos Road, at opposite INEC office Mangu being a Federal Highway, you Usaini Mohammed “M” of Anglo Jos, Jos South LGA you drove your vehicle Mercedes Benz truck with Reg. NO. AA873 DDA. in a dangerous and reckless manner and knocked down one cyclist by name Ayuba Dusah “M” of Tul Village Mangu LGA on his jincheng motorcycle. As a result of the incident, the occupant of the motorcycle by name Kilyobas Dusah “M” of the same address died at the spot while the rider sustained minor injury on his body (and) you thereby committed traffic offence contrary to Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act suggested.”
The contents of the FIR quoted above was then read and explained to the appellant by an interpreter who took oath to interpret the proceedings of the trial Court from English to Hausa and vice versa. The appellant then informed the trial Court that he understood the allegation read, explained and interpreted to him in Hausa language and the trial Court asked him thus:
“Court: Is the allegation true or false?
Accused: The allegation is true because I drove the car dangerously and so caused the death of the motorcyclist that I knocked down. I am sorry. I was actually reckless.”

The appellant having pleaded guilty to the allegation against him, the prosecuting police officer then applied for a summary trial under Section 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The trial Upper Area Court then accepted the request made by the prosecuting officer and held thus:
“The accused person having accepted liability or having admitted committing the offence of driving his vehicle Mercedes Benz truck with Reg. NO. AA873 DDA in a dangerous manner under Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act. Accordingly, this Court hereby exercises the discretionary powers conferred on it by Section 157(1) of the CPC, Section 8(2) of the Federal Highways Act and the Criminal Procedure (Punishment on Summary Conviction) Order 1987 to convict the accused person and he is hereby convicted and shall be sentenced.”
The plea of allocutus was taken in the following words:
“Plea of leniency is taken into account but the fact still remains that the outcome would have been milder if the accused was not reckless on his own part. The convict is hereby sentenced to 6 months jail term without an option of fine. Appeal lies to the High Court of justice within 30 days of this sentence.”

At the conclusion of trial, judgment was delivered on 14th May, 2012 wherein the appellant was found guilty as charged. He was convicted and sentenced to six (6) months imprisonment. The appellant being dissatisfied with the judgment filed an appeal before the Plateau State High Court on the following grounds:
The trial Upper Area Court erred in Law when it convicted the accused person and sentenced him to a term of six (6) months imprisonment on the basis that the accused admitted and pleaded guilty.
The trial Upper Area Court judge erred in law when he convicted and sentenced the accused person to terms of imprisonment notwithstanding the fact that (sic) the accused person offered adequate explanation as to how his vehicle hit the deceased.
The trial Upper Area Court misdirected itself in law when it convicted the accused person on the mere plea of guilty made by the accused.
Judgment was delivered on the 18th day of March, 2013 by Honourable Justices Y.B Nimpar (presiding) Judge as she then was and Honourable Justice D.D. Longgi where the appellant’s appeal was dismissed on the grounds that summary trial conducted by the trial judge was done in accordance with the provisions of Section 156 and 157 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, and duly affirmed the conviction of the appellant. Dissatisfied with the judgment, the appellant filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal, Jos where the appellants appeal was also dismissed on the 30th day of June 2014.

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Chief Bankole Falade of counsel for the appellant on the 5th October, 2017 date of hearing adopted the appellants brief of argument filed on 10/10/2014 and in it raised two issues for determination of the appeal which are thus:
1. Whether the mandatory provision of Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) was complied with by the Upper Area Court, Mangu before embarking on summary trial (Grounds 2 and 3 of the Appeal).
2. Whether the Court of Appeal was right when it held that the Upper Area Court complied with Sections 156 and 157 (1) of the CPC to warrant the confirmation of the appellant’s conviction. (Grounds 1 and 4 of the Appeal).

For the respondent, G. D. Fwomyon, DPP of Plateau State adopted the brief of argument of the respondent filed on 9/5/16 and deemed filed on the 5/10/17. He also adopted the issues as crafted by the appellant. I shall make use of the said issues as formulated.
ISSUE 1
This asks the question, if Upper Area Court complied with the mandatory provision of Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code before embarking on the summary trial.
Learned counsel for the appellant, Chief Falade submitted that summary trial is a short non jury proceeding that settles controversy in a case or disposes a case in a relatively prompt and simple manner. That the trial presupposes the conviction of an indictable offence other than capital offence or an offence punishable with life imprisonment. He cited COP v. Okoye (2012) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1320) 396; Alamieyesigha v. FRN (2006) 16 NWLR (pt. 1004) 1.

That the procedure for summary trial is provided for in Sections 156 and 157 (1) of the CPC with the operative word “shall” which connotes mandatoriness. The case of Tabik Investment Ltd v. GTB Plc (2011) 17 NWLR (pt. 1276) 240 at 259 was relied on. Also Abubakar v. Nasamu (No. 1) (2012) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1330) 407 at 458 etc.

Chief Falade of counsel for appellant contended that since the First Information Report (FIR) read to the appellant did not contain the particulars of the offence of dangerous and reckless driving, Section 156 of the CPC was not complied with notwithstanding the fact that appellant pleaded guilty to the charge. That this non compliance  was fatal to the trial. He referred to Mohammed El-Idrisu v. COP (1973) NNLR 184, R v. Tatimu 20 NLR 60 etc.

The learned DPP for the respondent, Mr. Fwomyon submitted that the wordings of Sections 156 and 157 of the CPC are precise and unambiguous and have to be given their ordinary and natural grammatical meaning. He cited FRN v. Mohammed (2014) 3 SCNJ 57 at 82, Ugochukwu Duru v. FRN (2013) 2 SCNJ 377 at 392.

That summary trial connotes the conviction of an accused person based on his or her admission and Section 20 of the Evidence Act, 2011 defines admission. That appellant not only admitted committing the offence but affirmed same when he was pleading for leniency. He cited Jimoh v. The State (2014) 3 SCNJ 1 at 7, Garuba v. Omokhodion (2011) 6 SCNJ 334 at 367.
For the respondent, it was submitted that the trial Court complied with the provisions of Sections 156 and 157 of the CPC and the appellant rightly convicted for the offence of dangerous driving contrary to Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act CAP. 135 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
That the appellant did not complain of any error in the FIR in accordance with Section 282 of CPC but assuming such an error must be material to the extent that appellant was misled and a miscarriage of justice occurred to warrant the interference of this Court with the verdict of the trial Court. Section 222 CPC was relied on. Also cited is Sule v. The State (2009) 6 SCNJ 65 at 89.
In a nutshell, the grouse of the appellant is that by the Upper Area Court merely asking the accused/appellant “Is the allegation true or false,” that Court of trial ran contrary to Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC)and so fatal to the entire proceedings, the implication being that the conviction and sentenced thereby obtained cannot be sustained.

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The respondent disagreeing with the posture states that due compliance was met of Sections 156 and 157 of CPC.
The definition of “summary” in Oxford English Dictionary, Tenth Edition page 914 is thus:
“Summary- a brief statement of the main points of something.
1. Not including unnecessary details
2. (of a legal process or judgment) done or made immediately and without following the normal legal procedures.”

A summary trial is therefore a short, not long proceeding that does away with the rigours of a full trial, hearing of witnesses or tendering of the evidence. Summary trial allows for the conviction of an accused person based on his or her admission of guilt to an indictable offence other than capital offence or an offence punishable with life imprisonment. See COP v. Okoye (2012) 14 NWLR (pt. 1320) 396; Alamieyesigha v. FRN (2006) 16 NWLR (pt. 1004) 1.
Not leaving a serious matter of the offence to chance, speculation or be casually taken the Criminal Procedure Code in Sections 156 and 157(1) had such trial codified and I shall recast them thus:
Section 156 provides thus:
“When the accused appears or is brought before the Court the particulars of the offence of which he is accused shall be stated to him and he shall be asked if he has any cause to show why he should not be convicted.”
Section 157(1) states:
“If the accused admits that he has committed the offence of which he is accused his admission shall be recorded as nearly as possible in the words used by him and if he shows no sufficient cause why he should not convicted, the Court may convict him accordingly, and on that case it shall be necessary to frame a formal charge.”

For more clarity, I shall restate the proceedings at the material time in Court and it is stated hereunder, viz:
“Court: particulars of offence is read, explained and interpreted to the accused person and he is asked to show cause.
Accused: I understand the allegation read, explained and interpreted to me in Hausa language.
Court: is the allegation true or false?
Accused: The allegation is true because I drove the car dangerously and so caused the death of the motorcyclist that I 
knocked down. I am sorry was actually reckless.
Edoh: Since the accused person does not deny liability to the offence, I apply that he be summarily tried under Section 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Court: The accused person having accepted the liability or having admitted committing the offence of driving his Mercedes Benz truck with Reg. 873DDA in a dangerous manner under Section 5 of the Federal Highway Act. Accordingly, this Court hereby exercises the discretionary powers conferred on it by Section 157 (1) of the Criminal Procedure (Punishment on Summary Conviction) Order 1987 to convict the accused person and he is hereby so convicted and shall be sentenced.
ALLOCUTUS
“Convict: I plead for leniency because even after being dangerous I tried to avoid them but I could not as the other vehicle that had lost control was rushing towards me and that was why I had to skid off to meet the motorcyclist who was carrying the man who died.

Certainly the accused/appellant was in the full knowledge with the necessary details as supplied by the FIRS which are thus:
“Causing death by dangerous driving on the 4/02/2012 at about 1630 hrs 
along Mangu-Jos Road, at opposite INEC office Mangu being a Federal Highway, you Usaini Mohammed “M” of Anglo Jos, Jos South LGA you drove your vehicle Mercedes Benz truck with Reg. NO. AA873 DDA in a dangerous and reckless manner and knocked down one cyclist by name Ayuba Dusah “M” of Tul Village Mangu LGA on his Jincheng motorcycle. As a result of the incident, the occupant of the motorcycle by name Kilyobas Dusah “M” of the same address died at the spot while the rider sustained minor injury on his body (and) you thereby committed traffic offence contrary to Section 5 of the Federal Highways Act suggested.”

The Court going further to ask the appellant after the charge was read, explained and interpreted to him from English to Hausa and vice versa left nothing in the dark or opaque but in this instance glaringly clear. Therefore when the trial

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Court asked:
“Is the allegation true or false?” the Court went the extra mile in fulfillment of the provisions of Sections 156 and 157 CPC.”
In fact what I see is an appellant seeking a way out of a very tight situation. In this case, the aperture is in the imagination of the appellant as there is really no opening, the Upper Area Court having done all that is required within the interpretation of the statute in Sections 156 and 157 and all that transpired borne out by a properly recorded proceedings which ought to be lauded not vilified. See Garuba v. Omokhodion (2011) 6 SCNJ 334 at 367; Ugochukwu v. FRN (2013) 2 SCNJ 377 at 392.

This issue is definitely resolved against the appellant.
ISSUE 2
The question here is if the Court of Appeal was right when it held that the Upper Area Court complied with Sections 156 and 157 (1) of the CPC to warrant the confirmation of the appellant’s conviction.
Learned counsel for the appellant contended that the Court of Appeal misconceived the provisions of Section 157(1) CPC and wrongly applied the case of Hassan Alabi v. The State (2007) ALL NWLR (pt. 376) at 796.

The respondent took a contrary view stating that the findings of the lower Courts were right and there is no basis for the interference of this Court on those concurrent findings. He cited Major Nickson Stanley Dong & Ors v. A. G. Adamawa State & Ors (2014) 2 SCNJ 557 at 580; NBA v. Ojigho (2015) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1481) 186 at 188.
Actually, the question herein has been answered in Issue 1 but for emphasis, this Court is always reluctant to interfere with concurrent findings of the lower Courts where as in this instance those findings are not perverse, have been supported by the evidence on record and there is no manifest error that could lead to a miscarriage of justice or a violation of some principle of law or procedure. See Major Nickson Stanley Dong & Ors v. A. G. Adamawa State & Ors (2014) 2 SCNJ 557 at 580; Sule v. The State (2009) 6 SCNJ 65 at 89.
There being no basis for interfering with the concurrent findings of the lower Court which are well grounded and which my learned brother Bage JSC had handled very well, I too dismiss this appeal as lacking in merit.

I abide by the consequential orders made.
CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI, J.S.C.: The facts that originated this appeal are well spelt out in the lead judgment. I will not repeat same.
The appellant after the charge was read to him was asked by the Court and had this to say at page 27 of the record: –
“Court: Is the allegation true or false?
Accused: The allegation is 
true because I drove the car dangerously and so caused the death of the motorcyclist that I knocked down. I am sorry. I was actually reckless.”

The trial of the appellant was pursuant to Section 157 of the CPC following his admission of the contents of the FIR.
The reproduction of Section 156 of the CPC is paramount to this appeal and states thus:
“When an accused person is brought before the Court the particulars of the offence of which he is accused shall be stated to him and he shall be asked if he has any cause to show why he should not be convicted.”
It is instructive to state that the particulars of the offence are those contained in the FIR, complaint or other information. The particulars must disclose an offence or else a conviction in proceedings under Section 157 of the CPC cannot stand.
It is not borne by the record that the appellant did not understand the allegation against him as stated on the FIR. The confirmation is where the proceeding was interpreted to him in Hausa language which he said he understood. He was also asked to show cause why he should not be convicted.

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In further consideration, is the provision of Section 157(1) of the CPC which also state as follows: –
“If the accused admits that he has committed the offence which he is accused, his admission shall be recorded as nearly as possible in the word used by him and if he shows no sufficient cause why he should not be convicted the Court may convict him accordingly, and in that case it shall not be necessary to frame a formal charge.”

It is clear and unambiguous that the Upper Area Court Mangu did follow due procedure of a summary trial envisaged by Section 157(1) of the CPC. The appellant herein was not left in any doubt as to the particulars of the offence of dangerous and reckless driving and hence his admitting the offence and his guilt, unequivocally in terms of the reproduction earlier supra. The confirmation is supported in the appellant’s plea of allocutus wherein he pleaded for leniency in the following terms: –
“I plead for leniency, because even after being dangerous, I tried to avoid them but I could not as the other vehicle that had lost control was rustling towards me and that was why I had to skit off to the motorcyclist who was carrying the man who died.”

For all intents and purposes, the reliance of the trial Court on the provision of Sections 156 and 157 of the CPC does not in any way occasion a miscarriage of justice to the appellant. Thus, the findings of the lower Courts were right. The appellant has failed to convince us that the concurrent findings by the lower Courts are perverse or not supported by evidence. This Court will not interfere just as a matter of course. See the case of Major Nickson Stanley Dong & Ors. V. A. G. Adamawa State & Ors.(2014) 2 SCNJ Pg. 557 at 580, wherein this Court held thus: –
It is well settled that this Court is always reluctant to interfere with concurrent findings of the lower Courts unless shown that the findings are perverse or not supported by evidence on record, or there is a manifest error that leads to a miscarriage of justice or a violation of some principle of law or procedure.”
Contrary to the submission by the appellant’s counsel therefore, the lower Court, like the High Court interpreted Sections 156 and 157 of the CPC by giving it, its ordinary and proper meaning just as the law requires. There was also no miscarriage of justice in the summary trial procedure adopted by the Upper Area Court, and also the High Court. Hence the lower Court was right in upholding the decision.
The judgment of my learned brother Bage, JSC is very comprehensive. With the few words of mine and while relying particularly on the lead judgment, I also find no merit in this appeal and dismiss same in like terms.
AMIRU SANUSI, J.S.C.: I had the opportunity of reading in draft form, the Judgment just delivered by my learned brother Sidi Dauda Bage JSC. While agreeing with the reasoning and conclusion reached, by my noble lord that this appeal is devoid of merit and deserves to be dismissed, I shall chip in just few words of mine for purpose of emphasis.
This appeal emanates from the Judgment of the Court of Appeal, Jos Division delivered on 30th June, 2014 in which the Judgment of the High Court of Plateau State sitting in its appellate jurisdiction, i.e. the intermediate Court, dismissed the appellant’s appeal against the Judgment of Upper Area Court (the trial Court), sitting in Mangu in which the appellant’s appeal against the decision of the trial Court which convicted the appellant herein of the offence of dangerous driving, contrary to Section 5 of Federal Highways Act Cap 135 Laws of the Federation, 1990 was affirmed.
Part of the complaint of the appellant in this appeal, is that the trial Upper Aria Court did not comply with the provisions of Sections 156 and 157 (1) of Criminal Procedure Code before it adopted the short summary trial procedure in convicting the accused/appellant as confirmed by the lower Court. The purpose of Section 156 of the CPC is that when an accused person is arraigned before the Court, the particulars of the offence he is being accused of committing will be read and explained him and then he is to be asked if he had cause to show why he should not be convicted. However, if the particulars of the offence are not explained to the accused, then there is failure of Justice. But if the accused person admits the offence, that is when Section 157 of CPC will come into play. The trial Court after recording his admission as nearly as possible in the words he used, the Court may proceed to convict him of the offence charged. It is clear from the record of appeal as follows: –

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(a) That the Court recorded that the particulars of the offence were read and explained and interpreted to the accused person, now appellant.
(b) That the accused had understood the allegation explained to him in Hausa Language with the aid of interpreter
(c) When asked whether the allegation was true or false, he answered that the allegation was true and he said that he drove dangerously and had caused the death of the victim motorcyclist.

It was after all these ensued, that the trial Court invoked the provisions of Section 157 of the CPC to summarily try and convict, before sentencing him. To my mind, there had been strict compliance by the trial Court with the provisions if Sections 156 and 157 of the CPC. Both the intermediate Court i.e. High Court and the lower Court i.e. the Court of Appeal were right in affirming the conviction and sentence by the trial Upper Area Court.
In the instant appeal, there are concurrent findings of three lower Courts which in my view, cannot be faulted. It is settled law, that this Court can not and should not interfere with or disturb concurrent fundings of two lower Courts unless and until it is shown that such findings are either perverse, or there had been misconception or misapplication of law. None of these conditions had been shown to have featured in the instant appeal by the appellant, hence this Court is hesitant in interfering or disturbing the findings of the three lower Courts.
In the result, I agree entirely with the reasoning and conclusion arrived at, in the leading Judgment of my learned brother Bage JSC, that this appeal is unmeritorious and it is hereby dismissed by me. I affirm the conviction and sentence passed on the appellant herein. Appeal dismissed.
Appearances

Chief Bankole Falade with him Samson Ike – For Appellant

AND

G.D. Fwomyon D.P.P. PLS. With him J.D. Longden D.D.P.P. PLS. – For Respondent

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