The Court of Appeal in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, has upturned a one-year imprisonment passed on a prominent businessman in Ado-Ekiti, Alhaji Azeez Apenpe, for allegedly giving false information to the police.
The Magistrates’ Court and High Court had convicted Apenpe of the charge preferred against him by the police after he had reported a case of theft on his farm.
The three-member appeal panel in a judgment delivered yesterday by Justice Ahmad Belgore set aside the verdicts of the two lower courts
and resolved all issues in favour of the appellant (Apenpe).
Describing the trial and conviction of the appellant by the lower courts as a nullity, the Appeal Court discharged and acquitted him.
Seventy-five-year-old Apenpe is a popular printer and politician.
The appellant had reported Sunday Akoe and his family to the police for allegedly stealing yams on his farm and destroying it in the process.
Apenpe had in his statement of claim averred that the police turned him (the complainant) to an accused person, arraigning him at a
Magistrates’ Court, accusing him of giving false information.
The court, in arriving at its judgment, held that the appellant’s statement written at the police station could not be found.
He was subsequently sentenced to a one-year imprisonment and given the option of N5,000 fine, which he paid.
Apenpe took the case to the High Court, which also affirmed the one-year imprisonment sentence handed down by the Magistrates’ Court.
Counsel to the appellant, Mr. Magnus Ejelonu, argued that the two lower courts lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, but the Federal High Court.
Ejelonu said: “His statement at the police station that was missing should be resolved in his favour.
“The two lower courts refusing to take his plea was to also be resolved in his favour.”