The Supreme Court has faulted the conviction and one-month sentencing of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Joseph Nwobike.
Some years ago, Nwobike was stripped of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria title and sentenced to one-month imprisonment for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Meanwhile, in a unanimous decision on Monday, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, faulted the earlier decisions of the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal, Lagos, and proceeded to uphold Nwobike’s appeal.
It held among others that the High Court of Lagos was wrong in convicting Nwobike on the offence, while the Court of Appeal erred in upholding his conviction and sentencing on the offence of attempt to pervert the course of justice.
On April 30 2019, Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High had sentenced Nwobike, to one month in prison for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The judgement drew the curtain on the prolonged corruption trial of Nwobike who was first arraigned on five counts on March 9, 2016, of offering gratification and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The charges against Nwobike who had been practising for about 20 years, was later amended and expanded to 18 counts by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on which he was finally prosecuted.
While delivering her judgment after the resumption of the court session in 2018, Justice Raliat Adebiyi, had said, “The defendant’s level of culpability was high and was carried out with impunity repeatedly over a period of time. The level of culpability was high but the level of consequence was limited. The defendant Dr Joseph Nwobike, is hereby sentenced to a period of one month of 30 days imprisonment for each of the 12 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice. The sentence is to run concurrently.”
Adebiyi sentenced Nwobike under Section 97(3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
The section says “Any person who attempts in any way not specified in this law, to obstruct, prevent, pervert or defeat the course of justice, is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for two years.”