Gov Ikpeazu and the presumption of regularity - The Real Story.

Discussion in 'Igbo Talk' started by izu, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. Izu

    Izu Admin Staff Member

    While practicing law in Nigeria, I did a case in which one of the thirty counts charged against my client was forgery - that he forged a Certificate of Incorporation.

    Counsel on the other side, a very erudite lawyer who is now a Senior Advocate (SAN), had the Attorney General's fiat to prosecute. He handled the prosecution diligently as if he was building a house one block at a time, making sure he did not miss any element of any of the charges.
    To prove this particular element of the case, he brought an officer from the Corporate Affairs Commission who tendered a certificate with same number as the one the prosecution alleged my client forged. Why? Because they needed to rebut the presumption that the one which they alleged was forged did not emanate from the Corporate Affairs Commission. Let me explain more.

    Section 150(1) of Nigeria's Evidence Act provides as follows: "When any judicial or official act is shown to have been done in a manner substantially regular, it is presumed that formal requisites for its validity were complied with." This statutory provision has its root in the common law maxim, expressed in the Latin, as follows: "Omnia praesumuntur rite ac sollemniter esse ease acta." Meaning - "All things are presumed to have been rightly and regularly done."
    Furthermore, apart from what is called presumption of regularity of official acts as embodied in the provisions of the Evidence Act, there is the presumption that, where there is no evidence to the contrary, things are presumed to have been rightly and properly done.
    The wisdom behind this statutory provision is to preserve the integrity of official acts. One branch of government cannot call the act of another "Forged" unless someone from whose office it purports to emanate comes to court to say, "This did not come from us. This is not our official act."

    Back to my case. When the prosecution closed it case, I made a "No case submission". As I pointed out earlier, my client was facing more than 30 counts but the forgery counts is the one relevant to this post and this day.
    I made the "No case submission" for two reasons, the most important being strategic; to appeal to the High Court on any count that was denied and ask for stay of proceedings pending the hearing of the appeal. I was most particularly worried about the forgery case considering the weight the court would attach to the testimony of the CAC officer.
    In my submission pertaining to the alleged forgery, I asked the court to review the evidence of the police officer who investigated the case, especially the list of exhibits the police recovered from my client; there was no mention of any Certificate of Incorporation. So, where did the one in court come from?

    Of the over thirty counts, the court sustained my submission in all but four. My submission on the forgery charge was of course sustained because there was no evidence the document before the court came from my client.
    What I have learned so far from the snippets of public discussion of Governor Ikpeazu's case is that there was no evidence from any Tax Official that the allegedly forged documents did not come from their office. Can the court declare the documents that purports to come from a government office forged without hearing from a government custodian?
    I will not comment on the defense strategy.
    Be that as it may, my worry about this Governor Ikpeazu's case is the same I have about Sen Ike Ekweremadu's; they are not about forgery. Thank you for reading.

    Full article credits to Emeka Maduewesi

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