The Nigerian government has filed a notice before a Court of Appeal seeking to overturn a Federal High Court judgment acquitting Emirates Airlines and 10 others of complicity in the loss of some items aboard the airline.
The Notice of Appeal dated May 16 gives 14 grounds for appealing the judgement including the fact that the judge erred in law by not attaching any evidential value to one of the exhibits used to arrive at judgment.
Mohammed Idris, a judge of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, in April discharged and acquitted Emirates Airlines and 10 others of complicity in an alleged loss of four bags containing $1.6 million dollars belonging to a businessman, Chu Ikem Orji.
Delivering his judgement, Mr Mohammed said, “The only issue for determination is whether or not the prosecution has proved its case against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubts. The burden of proof is on the prosecution because the defendants are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.
“The prosecution cannot go below the level of proof beyond reasonable doubt to achieve conviction of the accused persons. It is only when an accused person has admitted guilt that the burden of proof on the prosecution may be lighter. The reasonable doubt should be real, not imaginative and sentimental.
“In my view, taking a hard look at this case, I hold that the prosecution has failed to prove any of the counts against each of the defendants. I therefore sustain a verdict of not guilty as charged and the defendants are all discharged and acquitted.”
But in their appeal notice, the Nigeria government argued that the judge erred in law by deliberately ignoring or overruling the decision of the Court of Appeal in Yusuf. v. State (2012) ALL FWLR, Pt. 641, P.1478, @P.1478, @P. 1503, Paras A-B, E-G.
“Also, Justice Idris erred in law when he held that by virtue of exhibit A contradicting exhibits A3, A5, E, E1 and E1, the missing bags containing the sum of $1,630,000, samples of goods and valuable documents belonging to the PW3, left Nigeria as against the charge before the court,” the Notice of Appeal read.
“The judge erred in law by holding that ownership of the money, an essential ingredient of the offence of stealing, was not proved by failure to call other contributors and the business partner of PW3 thereby leaving the issue of the missing luggage unattended to.
“The learned trial judge erred in law by holding that the PW3 ought to disclose that he had the sum of $1, 630, 000 on him at the earliest opportunity in exhibit F1. The learned judge also erred in law when he held that the counts on the offences of willful destruction of evidence were inelegantly drafted and as such not proved.”
Although no date has been fixed for the appeal, the federal government is seeking an order not only to allow and uphold the appeal but invalidate the discharge and acquittal granted by the lower court in favour of Emirates.
Also, it is asking the appellate court to convict Emirates Airlines alongside Pathfinder International Limited, Nigeria Aviation Handling Co. Plc., Abayomi Adekanbi Abiola, Isiaka Adegoke Adedeji, Awonubi Abayomi and George Ikpekhia.
The federal government alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves to swindle Mr Orji of his $1.6 million under the false pretence that they would help him to keep the money and deliver same to him at Guangzhou, China.
The money was said to have been kept in one of the four bags, tagged, EK 428682 , EK 428683 , E 650165 and EK 650161, which Mr Orji kept with the defendants on the promise that they would help him to keep the bags intact for onward delivery to him in China.
The Attorney General Federation claimed that the defendants committed the offence on December 19 , 2007 at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...