Supreme Court – February 27th, 2015
Legalpedia Electronic Citation: LER SC.82/2012
Areas of Law:
CRIMINAL LAW, LAW OF EVIDENCE, APPEAL
Summary of Facts:
The Appellant and two others were tried on a two count charge of Conspiracy to commit Armed Robbery and Armed Robbery contrary to Section 6(b) and 1 (2) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, CAP R.II, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. It was the Prosecution’s case that the Managing Director of FAO Constant Petroleum was attacked by three men who chased after him with a motorcycle on his way home and disposed him of the proceeds of sale and two mobile phones. The 1st Accused person who was subsequently arrested mentioned the names of other two accused persons after a complaint was lodged at the police station. The defence on the other hand, denied the charge and objected to the admissibility of the additional statement which he claimed was involuntarily obtained. The court admitted the additional statement as Exhibit C after a trial-within- trial was conducted and held that it was voluntarily made. At the end of the trial, the Appellant and other co-accused persons were convicted of the offences of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery. Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal which affirmed the judgment of the trial court hence this appeal to the apex court.Held
Issues for Determination:
- Whether the Court below was right in affirming that the trial court was right in admitting Exhibits C, E and F in evidence and attaching evidential weight to them in convicting the Appellant;
- Whether the Respondent has proved the offences of Conspiracy to commit Armed Robbery and Armed Robbery against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt
PRESUMPTION UNDER THE DOCTRINE OF RECENT POSSESSION – SECTION 167 EVIDENCE ACT 2011 (AS AMENDED)
See Section 167 Evidence Act 2011 (As amended) which provides thus:
“The court may presume the existence of any fact which it deems likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and
public and private business, in their relationship to the facts of
the particular matter, the court may presume that –
(a) A man who is in possession of stolen goods soon after the theft is either the thief or has received the goods knowing them to be stolen, unless he can account for his possession’ PER M. U. PETER-ODILI, J.S.C
CONSPIRACY – DEFINITION OF CONSPIRACY
“The definition of conspiracy is well stated by this court in case of Kaza v The State (2008) 5 SCM 70 at 104 wherein it was held thus:-
“Conspiracy is a meeting of two or more minds to plan to carry out an unlawful or illegal act which is an offence and that bare agreement to commit an offence is sufficient”. See also Upahar v The State (2003)
6 NWLR (Pt. 81) 230 at 230”. PER M. U. PETER-ODILI, J.S.C
ADMISSIBILITY OF THE EVIDENCE OF A CO-ACCUSED PERSON ON OATH –WHETHER THE EVIDENCE OF A CO-ACCUSED PERSON ON OATH IS ADMISSIBLE AGAINST OTHER ACCUSED PERSONS
“The evidence of a co-accused on oath is admissible against other accused persons as the peculiar circumstances of a particular case may present”. PER M. U. PETER-ODILI, J.S.C
PROOF OF THE OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY – INGREDIENTS THE PROSECUTION MUST ESTABLISH IN AN OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY
“In respect of the issue of Armed Robbery, what the prosecution needs to establish are as follows:-
a. That there was a robbery or series of robberies.
b. That the robbery was an armed robbery.
c. That the Appellant was one of those who took part in the robbery.
See Bozin v State (1985)
2 NWLR (Pt. 8) 465; Alabi v. State(1973) 7 NWLR (Pt. 307) 511 at 523”. PER M. U. PETER-ODILI, J.S.COFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY – THE OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY CONSIST IN THE AGREEMENT TO DO AN UNLAWFUL ACT OR TO DO A LAWFUL ACT BY AN UNLAWFUL MEANS
“The offence of conspiracy consists not merely in the intention of two or more persons but in the agreement to do an unlawful act or to do a lawful act by unlawful means”. PER S. GALADIMA, J.S.C
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE BEST EVIDENCE IN CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
“A confessional statement is the best evidence in criminal procedure.” PER S. GALADIMA, J.S.C
COMMISSION OF AN OFFENCE -PERSONS DEEMED TO HAVE C0MMITTED AN OFFENCE – SECTION 7 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE CAP 38 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION 2004
“When an offence is committed, each of the following persons is deemed to have taken part in committing the offence and to be guilty of the offence and be charged with actually committing it.
(a) Every person who actually does the act or makes the omission which constitutes the offence;
(b) Every person who does or omits to do any act for the purpose of enabling or aiding another person to commit the offence;
(c) Every person who aids another person in committing the offence;
(d) Any person who counsels or procures any other person to commit the offence”. PER S. GALADIMA, J.S.C
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- TESTS FOR DETERMINING THE TRUTH OR WEIGHT TO ATTACH TO A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT
“In the decision of this Court in Golden Diebe v. The State (2007) 1 ALL FWLR (pt.362)83 at 114 – 115, the six tests for determining the truth or weight to attach to a confessional statement, as enumerated in some earlier cases are set out as follows:
(i) Is there anything outside the confession to show that it is true?
(ii) Is it corroborated?
(iii) Are the relevant statements of fact made in it true as far as can be tested?
(iv) Was the accused one who had the opportunity to commit the offence?
(v) Is the confession possible?
(vi) Is it consistent with other facts which have been ascertained? “ PER S. GALADIMA, J.S.C
CONVICTION FOR THE OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY – INGREDIENTS THE PROSECUTION MUST ESTABLISH TO SUSTAIN A CONVICTION FOR THE OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY
“It is trite law that to obtain conviction, the prosecution must establish three ingredients viz:
(a) That there was indeed a robbery or there were series of robberies.1
(b) That the robbery was an armed robbery, and
(c) That the appellant, in particular, was one of those who carried out the robbery.
See; Bozin Vs. The State (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt.8) 465; Alabi Vs State (1993) NWLR (Pt.307) 551; Olayinka Vs. State (2007)
85 SCM 193; Osetola & Ors Vs The State (2012) 12 SCM (Pt.2) 347; (2012) 17 NWLR (Pt.329) 251; (2012) 50 (Pt.2) NSCQR 598”. PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – ADMISSIBILITY OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT
“It is now trite that a confessional statement is admissible if it is direct and positive and relates to his own acts, knowledge or intention, stating or suggesting the inference that he committed the crime charged”. PER J.I. OKORO, J.S.C
ADMISSIBILITY OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – EFFECT ON THE ADMISSIBILITY OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CHALLENGED ON THE GROUNDS THAT AN ACCUSED PERSON DID NOT MAKE SAME AND WHERE SAME WAS NOT MADE VOLUNTARILY
“Where on the production of a confessional statement or any statement, it is challenged by the defence on the ground that the accused did not make it at all, such an objection does not go to the admissibility of the statement and the trial court is entitled to admit the confession in evidence as a statement the prosecution claims to have obtained from the accused person and thereafter to decide or find as a matter of fact whether or not the accused person in fact made the statement at the conclusion of the trial. See Godwin Ikpasa V. Bendel State (1981) 9 SC 7 at 28, Pele Ogunye V. The State (1999) 5 NWLR (pt. 604) 518. The position will however be different where the admissibility of a statement is challenged on the ground that it was not made voluntarily. In the later case it will be incumbent on the trial court to call upon the prosecution to establish the voluntariness of the statement by conducting a trial within a trial. See Gbadamosi & Anor. V. The State (1992) 11/12 SCNJ 268, Ojegele V. State (1988)
NWLR (pt 71) 414.” PER J.I. OKORO, J.S.C
CONFESSION – THE COURT CAN CONVICT ON A VOLUNTARY CONFESSION OF GUILT IF SAME IS FOUND TO BE CONSISTENT AND PROBABLE
“A voluntary confession of guilt, if fully consistent and probable, and is coupled with a clear proof that a crime has been committed by some persons, is usually accepted as satisfactory evidence on which the court can convict. See Ogoala V. The State (1991)
2 NWLR (pt. 175) 509”. PER J.I. OKORO, J.S.C
Statutes Referred To
Criminal Code Cap 38 Laws of the Federation 2004
Evidence Act 2011 (As amended)
Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap R 11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
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