“…the rising number of sureties/hired sureties that have no influence or hold and do not know the person they stand sureties for have to be dealt a deliberate blow to reduce the number of absconding suspects/accused standing trial in our Courts.”
OLAYIWOLA vs. FEDERAL
REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
BRIEF FACTS OF THE CASE:
The facts of the case are that the Appellant was charged and arraigned by the Respondent on a two count charge for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and making false statement to public officers dated 27th May, 2014.
The Respondent had alleged in February 2014, that its officials received complaints of stealing and issuance of dud cheque for a company operating under the name of ‘TAN AGRO NIG. LTD.’ against the suspect ISAH SANUSI. He was arrested and was granted bail after preliminary investigation, upon the application of the Appellant who signed the bail papers. He was subsequently asked to produce the suspect he stood surety for and was unable to do so, he was arrested after a period of time and he was then arraigned on a two count charge.
The lower Court convicted and sentenced him to 5 years and 6 months imprisonment.
Dissatisfied with the decision, the Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal.
ISSUE: BAIL-Bases for standing surety for an accused person; responsibility of a surety
“A person who is standing surety for an accused person should do so after proper consideration and personal knowledge of the accused. Standing surety for an accused based on recommendation can be very dangerous. The bases for standing surety is that the accused is personally known to the surety. It is a vote of confidence on the accused by the surety. He is saying the accused is of good character. It is based on that assurance that a Court allows the accused to go on bail. It is therefore a big responsibility on the shoulders of the surety. A surety inability to produce the accused is therefore seen like an act of deceit on the Court and this will be taken seriously. The surety therefore has a great burden to show it did all within his power to bring the accused. Taking an accused on bail as a surety should not be seen as a business. This is also dangerous. By this, I mean a situation where people do it as a business just as others go about their business. The Court should discourage such attitude.” Per EBIOWEI, JCA.(Pp.17-18,Paras.F-D).
ISSUE: (1) MISREPRESENTATION-Meaning of misrepresentation; when does a misrepresentation become fraudulent
(2) Whether a criminal action can be made against a surety of an absconded suspect/accused person for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and making a misrepresentation (2nd issue mine)
“Misrepresentation in law has been defined in BYUAN RESOURCES LTD. v. MINISTER OF FCT & ORS. (2016) 41494 (CA) to mean:
“The act of making a false or misleading assertion about something usually with the intent to deceive. The word denote not just written or spoken words but also any other conduct that amount to false assertion.
- The assertion so made, an assertion that does not accord with the facts.”
A misrepresentation is fraudulent if the maker intends his assertion to induce a party to manifest his assent and the maker (a) knows or believes that the assertion is not in accord with the facts or (b) does not have the confidence that he states or implies the assertion or (c) knows that he does not have the basis that he states or implies for the assertion. See KUFORIJI & ANOR. v. V.Y.B. NIG. LTD. (1981) LPELR -1716 (SC); AFEGBAI v. A. G. EDO STATE & ANOR. (2001) LPELR -193 (SC). The Appellant made fraudulent representation which was acted upon and very much influenced the decision of the officers of the investigating team to release the suspect on bail to the Appellant.” Per OBASEKI-ADEJUMO, JCA.(Pp.14-15,Paras.B-B).