BERENDE v. FRN (2021) LCN/4986(SC)
In The Supreme Court
On Friday, June 04, 2021
Before Our Lordships:
Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili – Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun – Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
John Inyang Okoro – Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa – Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Samuel Chukwudumebi Oseji – Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Abdullahi Mustapha Berende – Appellant(s)
Federal Republic of Nigeria- Respondent(s)
M.I. HANAFI, ESQ., with him, D. T. NWACHUKWU, ESQ., O.A. OMOLASE, ESQ.
and Y. A. YUSSUF, ESQ.- For Appellant(s)
CHIOMA ONUEGBU, ESQ. (D.D.P.P.F), with him,
CHINWE OBASI, ESQ. (Principal State Counsel), ANIKAN O. EKONG (Principal State
Counsel) Fed. Ministry of Justice – For Respondent(s)
KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C. (Delivering the Leading
The appellant was arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja, along with one Saheed Oluremi Adewumi on a six-count charge, of various offences under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011, as amended. The charges are as follows:
That you ABDULLAHI MUSTAPHA BERENDE, between September 2011 and December, 2012 at Tehran in Iran rendered support for an act of terrorism to wit: by provision of material assistance and terrorist training together with others now at large on the use of firearms, explosives and other related weapons and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 5(1) (a) of Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 5(1) of the same Act.
That you ABDULLAHI MUSTAPHA BERENDE, between September 2011 and December 2012 at Tehran in Iran had information which you know to be of material assistance about the terrorist training at Tehran in Iran and the subsequent spying of Chabbad house Lagos and AA Consulting Lagos and you failed to disclose such information to the law enforcement officers as soon as reasonable practicable, and therefore committed an offence punishable under Section 8(1) of Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended.
That you ABDULLAHI MUSTAPHA BERENDE, between September 2011 and December 2012 at Iran and Dubai UAE received from AMIR, an Iran terrorist, (now at large) the sum of four thousand dollars ($4,000), three thousand, five hundred Euros (€3,500) and twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) respectively to facilitate the commission of terrorist act and therefore committed an offence contrary to Section 13(1) (a) (i) of Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended, and punishable under Section 13 of the same Act.
That you ABDULLAHI MUSTAPHA BERENDE, between September 2011 and December 2012 at Lagos, Ilorin Nigeria, Tehran in Iran, agreed to recruit persons for AMIR, an Iranian Terrorist, now at large, and did recruit the following: Saheed Oluremi Adewumi, Sulaiman Olayinka Saka and Biliaminu Mohammed Yusuf and you therefore committed an offence punishable under Section 10 of Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended.
That you ABDULLAHI MUSTAPHA BERENDE and you SAHEED OLUREMI ADEWUMI, and others now at large between September 2011 and December 2012 at Lagos conspired to commit terrorist act to wit: rendering support to terrorism, concealing of information about acts of terrorism, recruitment for terrorism purposes and therefore committed an offence punishable under Section 17 of Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended.
That you ABDULLAHI MUSTAPHA BERENDE and you SAHEED OLUREMI ADEWUMI, between September 2011 and December 2012 at Lagos, through the technological devices including camera supported the commission of terrorist act and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12 of Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended.
They were arraigned on 28th August, 2013. They both pleaded not guilty to each of the six counts. The trial commenced on 22nd October, 2013. The first prosecution witness was one James Eneizi from the Department of State Services (DSS). He testified that the DSS received some intelligence reports that some Nigerians were recruited by Iranians and trained in acts of terrorism and returned to Nigeria to perpetrate such activities. He testified that the officer in charge of counter terrorism directed that the report be investigated. It was in the process of the investigation that the appellant was arrested in Ilorin on 17th December, 2012. The second accused was arrested a week later. The home of the appellant was searched. Some media items, the sum of US$5,800 and other incriminating items were recovered. He was taken to the national headquarters of the DSS in Abuja.
In conclusion, I hold that this appeal lacks merit. It is hereby dismissed. The judgment of the lower Court delivered on 15th April, 2019, affirming the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered on 22nd October, 2014 admitting the appellant’s extra judicial statements in evidence as Exhibits B and B1 is affirmed.
MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI, J.S.C.: I am in total agreement with the judgment just delivered by my learned brother, Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun, JSC and to underscore the support in the reasonings from which the decision came about. I shall make some remarks,
This appeal is against the judgment of the Court of appeal, Abuja Division or Court below or lower Court, Coram: A. Aboki, A. Jauro and E.A, Agim JJCA (as they were then).
The lower Court on the 15th of April, 2019 affirmed the decision of the trial Court on the admissibility of the Appellant’s statement, hence this appeal.
The circumstances surrounding the Appellant’s travails thereby leading to the instant appeal are traceable to December 17, 2012. That is indeed the day the Appellant was arrested by some operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) at his residence No. 80 Agbo-Oba Road, Ilorin, Kwara State.
In the course of investigation by the SSS operatives, the Appellant’s GSM handsets and laptop computer were exploited and analysed. The Appellant was suspected to have been involved in Iran State sponsored terrorism.
I am now convinced by the forceful submissions of Uwaifo, JCA correctly stated the law. He was right that the decision of this Court in Oladejo’s case was a departure from the long established principle relating to consideration of confession and its retraction. Confession and testing any of the accused person shall be evaluated and assessed by the trial Judge together with the totality of the evidence in order to reach a just decision. Per Bello, CJN @ 293 – 294.
In the circumstances, having effectively resolved the issue no. 1 against the Appellant, the appeal resultantly fails and same ought to be dismissed.
I have had the privilege of reading in draft, the judgment just delivered by my learned brother, Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun JSC and I agree that the appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed.
The concurrent findings of the two lower Courts are unshakable and devoid of any element of perverseness. For this and the more comprehensive reasons given in the leading Judgment, I also hold that this appeal is devoid of merit and it is accordingly dismissed.
BERENDE v. FRN (2021) LCN/4986(SC)