Nigerian Coat of Arms
State v. Okoye (2007)
GENERAL-FIAT OF ATTORNEY- GENERAL- FIAT ISSUED TO PRIVATE LEGAL PRACTITIONER-: Whether fiat issued by Attorney-General to private legal practitioner to prosecute a crime includes authority to prosecute an appeal emanating therefrom-
"A fiat issued to a private legal practitioner to prosecute a matter covers prosecution of the matter in any court of law at all levels and includes an appeal, especially since an appeal is not an inception of a new case but a contituation of the original suit. 'The powers conferred on the Attorney-General by virtue of Section 174(1) of the 1999 Constitution to be exercised on his behalf reads: '174(1)(a) to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court martial, in respect of any offence created by or under any Act of the National Assembly.' Section 174(1)(a) gave Afe Babalola SAN & CO Legal Practitioners wide powers including instituting and prosecuting criminal proceedings against any person in any court of law in Nigeria. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and section 174(1)(a) is very clear and unambiguous. It means what it says and it must be applied as such. So that any legal practitioner coming under the description as contained in the Legal Practitioners Act, and not disbarred or under some restriction recognized by the law of the land has the right of appearance and audience before any court based on the wide powers vested by section 174(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution. In effect and giving the foregoing its appropriate interpretation- Afe Babalola SAN & CO legal practitioners shall institute and prosecute the accused persons mentioned in the Fiat before any court of law in Nigeria. Since it is the superior court record that have jurisdiction to entertain the offence disclosed in the Fiat, the powers vested therein cover prosecution in these courts at all levels from the High Court to the Court of Appeal and finally to the apex court...I have no doubt in my mind that the Fiat granted by the Attorney General to Afe Babalola SAN & CO covers appearance in this case at the appellate stage as the authority to prosecute originated from the powers conferred on the Attorney General by virtue of section 174(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and therefore not limited or specific in scope as in the case of Emeakayi v. C.O.P. (2004) 4 NWLR (Pt. 862) Pg 158 cited by the 2nd 3rd respondents. I hold that there is a valid appeal before the court while this objection is struck out. Per. Adekeye JCA.
  1. State v. Okoye (2007) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1061) 607 at 645, paras. B - C; 644 - 645, paras. E - G (CA)
  1. Emeakayi v. C.O.P. (2004) 4 NWLR (Pt. 862) Pg 158.