Section 348-376 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Section 348 to 376 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 is under PART 36 of the Act. It is about TRIALS AND SUMMARY TRIALS GENERALLY.
Section 348 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
(1) Trials shall be held in the High Court on information filed:
(a) by the Attorney-General of the Federation or a law officer in his office;
(b) by the Attorney General of the Federation or a law officer in his office;
(c) by a Legal Officer of any prosecuting agency;
(d) by a private prosecutor; or
(e) summarily, in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
(2) Trials shall be held in the Magistrate court or any other court or tribunal exercising criminal jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of this Act relating to summary trials.
Section 349 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Non-appearance and non-representation of legal practitioner
(1) Where a defendant charged before the court is not represented by a legal practitioner, the court shall:
(a) inform him of his rights to a legal practitioner of his choice; and
(b) enquire from him, whether he wishes to engage his own legal practitioner, or a legal practitioner engaged for him by way of legal aid.
(2) Where the legal practitioner who had appeared on behalf of the defendant ceases to appear in court in two consecutive sessions of the court, the court shall enquire from the defendant if he wishes to engage on his own another legal practitioner or a legal practitioner engaged for him by way of legal aid.
(3) Where the defendant wishes to engage another legal practitioner of his choice, the court shall allow him reasonable time but not exceeding 30 days to do so.
(4) Where the defendant fails, or is unable to secure a legal practitioner arranged by him after a reasonable time, the court may direct that a legal practitioner arranged by way of legal aid to represent the defendant.
(5) The court may assign to any legal practitioner whose place of practice is within the jurisdiction of the court, any case of a defendant who has no legal representation, and the legal practitioner shall undertake the defence of the defendant with all due diligence, in which case, the legal practitioner shall not pay any filing fee or service fee in respect of the case so assigned.
(6) Where the defendant chooses to represent himself, the court shall:
(a) inform him of all his rights under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and under this Act; and
(b) indicate the fact of having so informed the defendant on the record, but a defendant charged with a capital offence or an offence punishable with life imprisonment shall not be allowed to represent and defend himself.
(7) A legal practitioner other than a law officer, engaged in any matter shall be bound to conduct the case on behalf of the prosecution or defendant until final judgment, unless allowed for any special reason to cease from acting by the Court of its own motion or upon application by the legal practitioner.
(8) Where a legal practitioner intends to disengage from a matter, he shall notify the Court, not less than three days before the date fixed for hearing and such notice shall be served on the Court and all parties.
Section 350 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
When summary trials shall be held
(1) Trial shall be held summarily:
(a) in the High Court in respect of perjury;
(b) in respect of an offence which by an Act of the National Assembly is triable summarily;
(c) in respect of a trial for an offence punishable with less than three years imprisonment in the Magistrates court or tribunal.
(2) In a trial in the Magistrate’s court or tribunal, the prosecution shall, provide the defendant all materials that the prosecution intends to rely on at the trial, before or at the commencement of the trial.
Section 351 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Non-appearance of complainant
(1) When the case is called, the defendant appears voluntarily in obedience to the summons or is brought before the court under a warrant, and the complainant having, to the satisfaction of the court, had due notice of the time and place of hearing, does not appear in person or in the manner authorised by a written law, the court may dismiss the complaint.
(2) Where the court receives a reasonable excuse for the non-appearance of the complainant or his representative or for other sufficient reason, it shall adjourn the hearing of the complaint to some future day on such terms as the court may deem just.
Section 352 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Non-appearance of defendant
(1) Where a case is called in which summons has been issued and the defendant does not appear, or pleads guilty under the provisions of section 135 of this Act, and no sufficient excuse is offered for his absence, then the court where it is:
(a) where satisfied that the summons, if any, has been duly served, may issue a warrant, called bench warrant for his arrest; or
(b) where not satisfied that the summons has been duly served or where a warrant had been issued, in the first instance, for the arrest of the defendant, shall adjourn the hearing of the case to some future day, in order that proper service may be effected or, until the defendant is arrested, as the case may be.
(2) Where the defendant is afterward, arrested on a bench warrant, he shall be brought before the court immediately which may then commit him by warrant to prison or to such other place of safe custody as it thinks fit, and order him to be brought before the court at a certain time and place.
(3) The complainant shall, by direction of the court, be served due notice of the time and place ordered under subsection (2) of this section.
(4) Where the court, in exercise of its discretion, has granted bail to the defendant and the defendant, in disregard for the court orders, fails to surrender to the order of court or fails to attend court without reasonable explanation, the court shall continue with the trial in his absence and convict him unless the court sees reasons otherwise, provided that proceedings in the absence of the defendant shall take place after two adjournments or as the court may deem fit.
(5) The Court shall impose a sentence only when the defendant is arrested or surrenders to the custody of the court.
Section 353 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Non-appearance of both parties
(1) Where the case is called and neither the prosecutor nor the defendant appears, or the defendant appears and the prosecutor does not appear, the court shall make such order as the justice of the case requires.
(2) The court may, in the order, include such direction as to the payment of costs as the court considers fit, and the payment of the costs may be as if it were a fine.
Section 354 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Appearance of both parties
When the case is called and both the complainant and the defendant appear, the court shall proceed to hear and determine the case.
Section 355 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Withdrawal of complaint
Where a complainant at any time before a final order is made in a case, satisfies the court that there are sufficient grounds for permitting him to withdraw his complaint, the court may permit him to withdraw the complaint and shall thereupon acquit the defendant.
Section 356 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Manner of hearing
(1) At the commencement of the hearing, the court shall state, or cause to be stated to the defendant, the substance of the complaint, and shall ask him whether he is guilty or not guilty.
(2) Where the defendant pleads guilty and the court is satisfied that he intends to admit the offence and shows no cause or no sufficient cause why sentence should not be passed, the court shall proceed to sentence.
(3) Where the defendant pleads not guilty, the court shall direct all witnesses to leave the court and upon the direction, the provisions of section 212 of the Evidence Act, 2011 shall apply, but failure to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall not invalidate the proceedings but would affect the weight of evidence given by that witness who fails to leave the court on the direction being given.
(4) Notwithstanding the provision of subsections (1), (2) and (3) in capital offences the court shall proceed with the trial irrespective of the plea by the defendant.
(5) The court shall then proceed:
(a) to hear the prosecutor and such witnesses as he may call and such other evidence as he may adduce in support of the charge; and
(b) also to hear the defendant and such witnesses as he may call and such other evidence as he may adduce in his defence; and
(c) also, where the court thinks fit, to hear such witnesses as the prosecutor may call in reply if the defendant has called any witness or given any evidence.
(6) The prosecutor and the defendant may put questions to each witness called by the other side and where the defendant gives evidence he may be cross-examined.
(7) Where the defendant is not represented by a legal practitioner, the court shall at the close of the examination of each witness for the prosecution ask the defendant whether he wishes to put any questions to that witness, and shall record the defendant’s answer.
(8) The defendant shall take his plea in the dock, except the Judge directs otherwise.
Section 357 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Discharge of defendant when no case to answer
Where at the close of the evidence in support of the charge, it appears to the court that a case is not made out against the defendant sufficiently to require him to make a defence the court shall, as to that particular charge, discharge him being guided by the provisions of section 302 of this Act.
Section 358 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
(1) At the close of the evidence in support of the charge, where it appears to the court that a prima facie case is made out against the defendant sufficiently to require him to make a defence, the court shall call on him for his defence and where the defendant is not represented by a legal practitioner, the court shall inform him of the alternatives open to him that he may:
(a) make a statement, without being sworn, from the place where he then is, in which case he will not be liable to cross examination; or
(b) give evidence in the witness box, after being sworn as a witness; in which case he will be liable to cross examination; or
(c) call any witness or adduce any other evidence in his defence.
(2) Where the defendant is represented by a legal practitioner, the Court shall call on the legal practitioner to proceed with the defence.
Section 359 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Process for compelling production of evidence at instance of defendant
(1) The defendant may apply to the court to issue a process for compelling the attendance of a witness for the purpose of examination or the production of a document or any other thing.
(2) On an application by the defendant under subsection (1) of this section, the court shall issue the process unless for reasons to be recorded by it in writing it considers that the application is made for the purpose of vexation or delay or of defeating the aims of justice.
Section 360 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Saving as to section 358 (a)
Failure to comply with the requirements of section 358(a) of this Act shall not of itself vitiate the trial where the court:
(a) called on the defendant for his defence;
(b) asked the defendant if he had any witness; and
(c) heard the defendant and his witnesses and other evidence, if any.
Section 361 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Evidence in reply
Where the defendant adduces in his defence a new matter, which the prosecution could not foresee, the prosecution may, with the leave of the court, adduce evidence to rebut the new matter or evidence.
Section 362 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Power to take deposition in certain cases
(1) In certain exceptional circumstances, where the evidence of a technical, professional or expert witness would not ordinarily be contentious as to require cross-examination, the court may grant leave for the evidence to be taken in writing or by electronic recording device, on oath or affirmation of the witness, and the deposition shall form part of the record of the court.
(2) Where it appears to the court that a person who is seriously ill or hurt may not recover, but is able and willing to give material evidence relating to an offence and it is not practicable to take the evidence in accordance with the provisions of this Act, the Judge or Magistrate shall:
(a) take in writing the statement on oath or affirmation of the person and subscribe the statement and certify that it contains accurately the whole of the statement made by the person; and
(b) add a statement of his reason for taking the statement, the date and place when and where the statement was taken, and shall preserve the statement and file it for record.
(3) The court shall cause reasonable notice of the application to take the deposition in accordance with subsections (1) and (2) of this section and of the time and place where it is to be taken to be served on the prosecutor and defendant and if the defendant is in custody and his presence is required for the deposition, he shall be brought by the person in whose custody he is, to the place where the statement is to be taken, under an order in writing of the court.
Section 363 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
When statement may be used in evidence
(1) A statement taken under section 362 of this Act may afterwards be used in evidence on the trial of a defendant accused of an offence to which the statement relates in accordance with the provisions of section 46 of the Evidence Act.
(2) The signature and attestation of the Judge or Magistrate shall be sufficient prima facie proof of the content of the statement, and that the statement was taken in all respects according to law and the attestation and signature shall be admitted without further proof unless the court sees reason to doubt the genuineness.
Section 364 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Notes of evidence to be recorded electronically or in writing
(1) Without prejudice to section 348(2) of this Act, Court proceedings may be recorded electronically and verbatim such that at the end of each day‘s proceeding a transcript of such recording shall be printed to enable certification or authentication by the judge or magistrate who conducted the proceedings.
(2) Where court proceedings are not recorded as stated in sub-section 1, the court shall in every case take notes in writing of the oral evidence it considers material, in a book to be kept for that purpose and the book shall be signed by the court at the conclusion of each day’s proceedings.
(3) The transcript of the recordings of the court shall be signed or otherwise authenticated by the presiding Judge at an adjournment of the case or at the conclusion in a manner authorised from time to time by the Chief Judge in accordance with such condition as may be imposed by rules of court, and the signed transcript shall be taken as part of the record of the proceedings.
(4) A person is not entitled, as of right, to inspection of or to a copy of the record so kept except as may be expressly provided for by the rules of the court or by any other law.
(5) The record so kept or a copy of it purporting to be signed and certified as a true copy by the court shall at all times, without further proof, be admitted as evidence of the proceedings as statement made by the witnesses.
Section 365 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
A court trying a case summarily shall make or cause to be made such local inspection as the circumstances of the case may require.
Section 366 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Where a complaint is made by one or more parties against another party or parties and there is a cross-complaint by the defendant or defendants in the first named case, the court may, where it thinks fit, hear and determine the complaints in the same proceeding.
Section 367 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Joinder of complaints
Where two or more complaints are made by one or more parties against another party or parties and the complaints refer to the same matter, the court may, where it thinks fit, hear and determine the complaints in the same proceedings.
Section 368 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Giving of decision upon conclusion of hearing
On the conclusion of the hearing, the court shall either at the same or at an adjourned sitting give its decision on the case either by dismissing or convicting the defendant and may make such other orders as may seem just.
Section 369 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Power to bind parties to be of good behavior
(1) In a summary trial, the court may, whether the complaint is dismissed or not, by order bind over either the complainant or defendant, or both, with or without a surety or sureties, to be of good behaviour.
(2) A person who breaches an order made, pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months in addition to any other punishment to which the person is liable.
(3) Before a binding order pursuant to subsection (1) of this section or an order for imprisonment or any other punishment under subsection (2) of this section is made, the person to be affected by the order shall be given an opportunity to be heard.
Section 370 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Effect of judgment of dismissal “on merits”, “not on merits” and ‘without prejudice’
(1) Where a charge is dismissed on merits, the dismissal has the same effect as an acquittal.
(2) Where a charge is dismissed but not on merits, or stated to be dismissal without prejudice, the dismissal does not have the same effect as an acquittal.
Section 371 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Summary trial of child by Magistrate
Where a child is proceeded against before a court for an offence, the court shall have regard to the provisions of the Child Rights Act.
Section 372 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Power to remand
Without prejudice to any other power which a Magistrate may possess, he may, for the purposes of ascertaining whether it is expedient to deal with a case summarily, either before or during the hearing of the case, adjourn the case and remand the person charged for a period not exceeding 48 hours or release him on bail.
Section 373 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Law officer may require case to be adjourned or dealt with specially
(1) A law officer, in a case where a charge of an indictable offence is being proceeded with summarily by a Magistrate, may, at any time before judgment, request the Magistrate to deal with the case as one for trial on information.
(2) On receipt of the request, the Magistrate shall adjourn the proceeding until such a time as information or charge is filed in the High court, provided that the information shall be filed within a period of thirty days of the date the order granting the request.
(3) The Magistrate shall make the case returnable for a period not exceeding thirty-two days from the date of the grant of the request.
(4) Where at the end of the period of thirty days provided in subsection (2) of this section, the information or charge against the defendant has not been filed at the High Court, the Magistrate shall proceed on the return date to try the charge summarily where he has jurisdiction, or may make an order releasing the defendant on bail pending his arraignment on the information or charge as requested by the law officer.
Section 374 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Adjournment for law officer’s decision
(1) Where a charge for an offence is being tried summarily by a Magistrate, he shall, at the request of a person in charge of the prosecution made at any time before judgment, adjourn the hearing of the charge for consultation with a law officer with a view to obtaining a request to proceed in accordance with section 373 of this Act.
(2) The request of the law officer so consulted shall be filed within 14 days of the date the Magistrates grants the request of the person prosecuting, failing which the Magistrate shall proceed to try and conclude the case summarily.
(3) Where the Magistrate grants an adjournment at a request under subsection (1) of this section, the adjournment shall not be for a period exceeding 15 days, and the Magistrate may grant the defendant bail.
Section 375 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Security for peace in cases tried summarily
(1) A defendant convicted of an offence tried summarily may, instead of, or in addition to any prescribed punishment, be ordered to enter into his own recognizance, with or without sureties, in such amount as the court thinks fit that he shall keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a reasonable period fixed by the court.
(2) The convict may be ordered to be imprisoned until the recognizance is entered into, but the imprisonment shall not:
(a) extend for a term longer than 1 year; and
(b) together with the fixed term of imprisonment, if any, extend for a term longer than the longest term for which he might be sentenced to be imprisoned without fine for the offence which he was convicted.
Section 376 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015
Case files, legal advice, and related proceedings
(1) Where an offence for which the Magistrate court has no jurisdiction to try is preferred against a defendant, the police shall at the end of investigation submit the original case file to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
(2) The Attorney-General of the Federation shall, within 14 days of receipt of the police case file, issue and serve his legal advice indicating whether or not there is a prima facie case against the defendant for which he can be prosecuted.
(3) Where the Attorney-General of the Federation is of the opinion as contained in the legal advice that the suspect has no prima facie case to answer, he shall serve a copy of the legal advice on:
(a) police or the head of the police legal unit through whom the police case file was sent to the Attorney-General of the Federation.
(b) court before whom the suspect was remanded in prison, where he is in remand custody, or before whom the suspect was granted bail, where he is on bail; and
(c) suspect in respect of whom legal advice is preferred through the prison authority, where the suspect is remanded in custody, or through his legal representative, if any;
(4) Where the offence is one for which a Magistrate court has jurisdiction to try, the prosecutor shall file the charge at the Magistrate’s court, accompanied with:
(a) the list of witnesses and their addresses;
(b) the list of exhibits;
(c) statements of the witnesses and of the defendant; and
(d) any report, document or material that the prosecution intends to rely on at the trial of the offence, but the prosecution may, with leave of the court, file and serve any additional document.
(5) The police or the officer in charge of the prison in which the suspect is remanded in custody shall on receipt of the legal advice release the suspect immediately from detention where there is no case to answer.
(6) The court referred to in subsection (4) (b) of this section, shall on receipt of the legal advice, dismiss the charge against the suspect and accordingly discharge the suspect.
(7) The Attorney-General of the Federation shall send a Law Officer in his office to the court where the order of remand was made and ensure the discharge of the remand order and of the suspect.
(8) Where the Attorney-General of the Federation is of the opinion as contained in the legal advice that the suspect has a prima facie case to answer, he shall file and serve the charge or information in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
(9) A form as prescribed in the First Schedule to this Act, indicating a desire to be represented by legal practitioner of his choice or by a legal practitioner from the Legal Aid Council or any other organisation providing free legal representation to defendants shall be attached to each legal advice for the purpose of endorsement by the person in respect of whom legal advice is preferred and against whom the information is filed.
(10) Where the defendant indicates in the form referred to in subsection (8) of this section that he wishes to be represented by a legal practitioner of the Legal Aid Council or any other organisation providing free legal representation, he shall forward the form to the Chief Registrar of the court before whom the charge or information for his trial has been filed and the Chief Registrar shall, within 14 days of receipt of the form, ensure that a legal practitioner of the Legal Aid Council as stipulated under subsection (10) or any other organization providing free legal representation for the defendant, and by notice in writing inform the defendant of the particulars of the legal representation arranged for him.
(11) The Chief Register shall upon getting the form forward same to the Director-General of the Legal Aid Council or to the nearest Legal Aid Council office where the court is located.