A Court of Appeal in Ado-Ekiti has overturned a one-year imprisonment passed on a prominent businessman in Ado-Ekiti, Alhaji Azeez Apempe, for allegedly giving false information to the Police.
The Magistrate’s Court and the High Court had earlier convicted Apempe 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 on Thursday by Justice Ahmad Belgore set aside the verdict of the two lower court and resolved all issues in favour of the appellant (Apempe).
Describing the trial and conviction of the appellant by the lower courts as a nullity, the Appeal Court subsequently discharged and acquitted him.
The 75-year-old Apenpe is a popular printer and politician.
The appellant had reported one Sunday Akoe and his family members to the Police for allegedly stealing yams on his farms and destroying the farm in the process.
Apempe had in his statement of claim averred that the Police turned him (the complainant) to an accused person charging him to a Magistrate’s Court accusing him of giving false information.
The Magistrate 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 a N5,000 fine which he paid.
Apempe took the case to the High Court which also affirmed the one-year imprisonment sentence handed down by the Magistrate’s Court.
Counsel to the appellant, Mr. Magnus Ejelonu, argued that the two lower courts lack 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.”