LEGALPEDIA ELECTRONIC CITATION: LERSC. 199/2011
AREAS OF LAW: CRIMINAL LAW- CONSPIRACY, MURDER; EVIDENCE- IDENTIFICATION PARADE
SUMMARY OF FACTS
The Appellant was tried and convicted at the trial court on a two count charge of Conspiracy and Armed robbery punishable under Sections 97 (1) and 298 (c) of the Penal Code. The fact of the case was that the Appellant and others stormed the premises of PW1 and PW 2 and made away with their car, money and other items. Some thieves were later caught in Abuja and transferred to Lokoja where the Appellant was identified by PW1 and PW 2.Upon investigation, the Appellant confessed to the commission of the crime. When the confessional statement was sought to be tendered by the prosecution at the trial, an objection was raised by the defence on its admissibility on the ground that it was not voluntary and after a trial within a trial, it was admitted in evidence. The Appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge and gave evidence in his defence without calling any witness. At the close of the trial, the Appellant was sentenced to three and five years imprisonment respectively with sentences to run concurrently. Being dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal which dismissed the appeal and affirmed the conviction and sentence of the trial court. Further dissatisfied, he appealed to the Supreme Court.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal did not err in law when they dismissed the Appellant’s appeal, held that the reliance and utilisation by the learned trial Court of the evidence of the prosecution’s first and second witnesses(PWl and PW2 daughter, an individual being a Person) who did not give evidence in the matter at all to convict the Appellant and sentence him to three and five years prison terms is one that bothers on typographical error, or mere observation or at most amount to a wrongful admission of evidence by the trial Court under Section 227 of the Evidence Act that did not influence the decision of the trial Court
Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal did not err when rather than address properly and fully the breach of the Appellant’s fundamental right to fair hearing and consequences of the breach being a relevant issue for determination consigned the relevant issue to one of shadow and held that the Appellant’s case is a bad one that cannot be saved even where there is breach of the principle of fair hearing?
And/or whether a party’s constitutional right to fair hearing can be sacrificed on the altar of a Court’s impression that in spite of a typographical error at the instance of a Court against the interests of a party, “where a case is bad, it is not even resorting to breach of fair hearing can resolve it”.
Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal did not err and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when in spite of the facts and circumstances surrounding the trial Court’s foreclosure that an identification parade was not necessary considering that the Appellant was not arrested at the scene of the crime relied on the confessional statement as sufficient to make an identification parade not necessary?
SLIP OR ERROR IN JUDGMENT- WHETHER EVERY SLIP OR ERROR IN A JUDGMENT WILL RESULT IN AN APPEAL BEING ALLOWED
“It is not every mistake, slip or error in a judgment that will result in an appeal being allowed since it is only where the error is substantial that it can be seen that it has occasioned a miscarriage of justice which makes it mandatory for the Appellate Court to interfere and have the judgment upset”. PER PETER- ODILI JSC
EVIDENCE- WHETHER WRONGFUL ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE WILL WARRANT A REVERSAL OF THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT
“Wrongful admission of evidence or wrongful exclusion will not result in the reversal of a decision if it did not affect the decision of the trial Court such that it would have been different if the error had not been committed. Also a decision of a Lower Court would not be reversed on account of a trial court accepting inadmissible evidence when that evidence did not occasion any miscarriage of justice or affect the decision of the court in any way”. PER PETER- ODILI JSC
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE BEST EVIDENCE
“A confessional statement is really the best evidence or the strongest against an accused in the determination of his guilt. Therefore, when such a statement has been proved to have been made voluntarily and it is direct, positive and unequivocal, then it is an admission of guilt and can even stand alone to sustain a finding of guilt that is without corroboration”.PER PETER- ODILI JSC
INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE- AN APPELLATE COURT CAN DISCOUNTENANCE AN INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE
“Where there is inadmissible evidence, the appellate court has power to discountenance same as done by the court below. PER FABIYI JSC
IDENTIFICATION EVIDENCE- MEANING OF IDENTIFICATION EVIDENCE
“Identification evidence is that tending to show that the person charged with an offence is the same person who committed the alleged offence”. PER FABIYI JSC
IDENTIFICATION PARADE- WHEN IS AN IDENTIFICATION PARADE NECESSARY
“An identification parade is not necessary where the victim of the crime or a witness promptly and positively identities the criminal”. PER FABIYI JSC
Abubakar v. Joseph (2008) 13 NWLR (pt. II04) 302 at
Alabi v Lawal (2004) 2 NWLR (pt, 852) 134 at 147 – 148
Alli v Alesinloye (2002) 6 NWLR (Pt. 660) 177 at 213
Ezeoke v Nwagbo (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt.72) 616
Gira v State (1996) 4 NWLR (Pt. 443) 375 at 388;
Ikemson v. The State (1989) 3 NWLR (pt. 110) 455 at 478.
lkweki v Ebele (2005) 11 MWLR (Pt,935) 397 at 245;
Madagawa v. The State (1988) 5 NWLR (Pt. 92) 61.
NIPOL Ltd v Bioku Invest & Pro Co Ltd (1992) 3 NWLR (pt. 232) 727 at 753
Nwaigwe v Okere (2008) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1105) 445 at 478 – 479.
Ogbe v Asade (2009) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1172) 106 at 137;
Ogunsina v Matanmi (2001) 9 NWLR (pt. 718) 286.
Omomeji v Kolawole (2008) 2 NWLR (Pt. 1106) 180 at 202;
Patrick Njovens & ors v state (1973) NSCC 257 at 27′,
R v Obiasa (1962) SCNLR 102;
Warri v Etsanomi (2005) 15 WRN 150 at 172
Yusuf v Akindipe (2000) 8 NWLR (Pt. 669) 376 at 384;
STATUTES REFERRED TO:
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999
The Evidence Act, Cap E14, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
PATRICK OGEDENGBE V STATE
LEGALPEDIA ELECTRONIC CITATION: LERSC. 193/2011
AREA OF LAW: CRIMINAL LAW- MURDER, CONFESSION
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, hereinafter referred to as the lower court, affirming the judgment of the Lagos State High Court, hereinafter referred to as the trial court, convicting the Appellant and one Olatinwo Nurudeen Bright for the offences of Conspiracy to commit murder and murder contrary to Sections 324 and 319 (1) respectively of the Criminal Code Law Cap 32 Laws of Lagos State. It is the Respondent’s case that sometime in September, 2009, the Appellant, a driver to Navy Captain Yetunde Peters, who is now deceased, conspired with one Olatinwo Nurudeen Bright and murdered the said Navy Captain Yetunde Peters. Though there was no eye witness to the fact of the murder, it is asserted that the Appellant and his co-conspirator, DW2, had murdered and wrapped the deceased in a rug, conveyed the corpse in the boot of her car and dumped same in the Adeniji Adele Area part of the Lagos Lagoon. The Appellant’s conviction draws largely from Exhibit ‘C’, his confessional statement which admission in evidence the Appellant stoutly objected to but failed. The Appellant contended that PW5, ASP Ajibola Osayemen, the investigating Police Officer, had forced him to write his statement. Having admitted the Appellant’s statement in evidence and found it to be confessional, the trial court convicted the Appellant for the two count charge. The instant appeal is sequel to the dismissal of Appellant’s unmeritorious appeal by the lower court.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:
Whether the trial and indeed the lower courts were both right in convicting and sentencing the appellant primarily on the uncorroborated and retracted confessional statement (EXHIBIT C) of the Appellant,
Whether the prosecution proved the necessary ingredient(s) of the offences of conspiracy and murder against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt as required by the law.
CONFESSION- WHETHER THERE EXIST ANY EVIDENCE STRONGER THAN THE ACCUSED’S UNEQUIVOCAL CONFESSION
“lt is thus a trite principle that there cannot be evidence stronger than the accused’s direct, and unequivocal confession which alone, on the authorities, may support his conviction”.PER MUHAMMAD JSC
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- NATURE OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT THAT WILL SUSTAIN A CONVICTION
“The voluntary confessional statement of the accused person alone, without any corroborative evidence, suffices and, where solely relied upon by the trial court, will sustain a conviction. An appellant court’s affirmation of the trial court’s conviction of an appellant solely on the latter’s direct, positive and unequivocal confessional statement cannot, therefore, be interfered with on a further appeal”. PER MUHAMMAD JSC
FINDINGS OF FACT BY THE TRIAL COURT- DUTY OF THE APPELLATE COURTS NOT TO INTERFERE WITH THE TRIAL COURT’S FINDINGS UNLESS IT IS SHOWN TO BE PERVERSE
“Neither court, therefore, can interfere with the trial court’s finding which the appellant has not otherwise shown to be perverse”. PER MUHAMMAD JSC
Akpan v. State (2000) 12 NWLR (part 582) 507 and
Alarape & ors v. State (2001) 5 NWLR (part 205) 79 and
ldowu v. The State (2000) 7 SC (part 11) 50 at 62 – 63 and
lkemson v. The State (1989)3 NWLR (part 110)455
Osetola v.State (2012) 17 NWLR (part 1329) 251 at 278.
Ozana Ubierho v. State(2005) 2 SC (part 1) 18.
STATUTES REFERRED TO:
Evidence Act 2011