The 7 Day Meal Plan That Prevents HypertensionJuly 11, 2015
Lagos State Traffic Management Authority & 3 Ors V. Johnson EsezoboJuly 19, 2015
AREAS OF LAW:
APPEAL, COURT, CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE, LAW OF EVIDENCE, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
SUMMARY OF FACTS
The Appellant was charged alongside three others before the Edo State High Court for conspiracy and Armed Robbery punishable under Sections 5(b) and 1(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions)Act Cap 398 of the Laws of the Federation 1990. The Appellant and his gang robbed different persons of various sums of money. Upon the arrest of the 1st Accused person, he volunteered a statement which led to the arrest of others including the Appellant. Their statements at the police station was tendered in court and admitted in evidence without objection. At the end of the trial, the trial court believed that the Prosecution had proved its case against the Accused persons and also based upon their extra-judicial confessional statement, they were convicted and accordingly sentenced. It is against this decision that the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal where the judgment of the trial court was affirmed. Further aggrieved, the Appellant has appealed to this court.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
- Whether the lower court committed an error and the error occasioned a serious miscarriage of justice when it held that the identity of the appellant as one of the robbers was not raised as an issue before the trial court and could not therefore be raised before them without leave. (ground 1).
- Whether on the evidence of the prosecution witnesses and the confessional statements of the appellant and his co-accused the lower court was in error in not discharging and acquitting the appellant for the offences of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery. (ground 2,3, and 4).
CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACT BY LOWER COURTS – THE APPELLATE COURT INTERFERES WITH CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACT BY LOWER COURTS WHERE SUCH FINDINGS ARE SHOWN TO BE MANIFESTLY PERVERSE
“The appeal challenges the concurrent findings of fact by the two courts below which this Court allows only where such findings are shown to be manifestly perverse. The appeal succeeds if the appellant establishes that the findings he attacks neither draw from the evidence on record nor are in compliance with known principles of law or procedure and have also occasioned injustice. See Afolalu V. The State (2010) 5-7 SC (Pt 11) 93, Ugwuanyi V. FRN (2012) 3 SC (pt 11) 95 and Osuagwu V. State (2013) 1-2 SC (Pt 1) 37”. PER M. D. MUHAMMAD, J.S.C.
IDENTIFICATION OF AN ACCUSED PERSON –THE IDENTIFICATION OF AN ACCUSED PERSON WOULD BE NECESSARY WHERE SAME IS AN ISSUE BEFORE A TRIAL COURT
“It must strongly be emphasized, however, that the identification of an accused becomes relevant only where same is an issue before the trial court. Where, therefore, the court is not confronted with the issue because, on the basis of evidence available to the court, the question has ceased to be relevant, the court will not be expected to dwell needlessly on the issue.” PER M. D. MUHAMMAD, J.S.C.
RAISING A DEFENCE ON APPEAL –AN APPELLANT DOES NOT REQUIRE LEAVE OF COURT TO RAISE A DEFENCE ON APPEAL
“It is true that the appellant requires no leave to raise on appeal any defence he is, on the face of the record, entitled to.” PER M. D. MUHAMMAD, J.S.C.
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – COURTS CAN CONVICT AN ACCUSED PERSON ONCE HIS EXTRA JUDICIAL STATEMENT IS THE CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT
“The correct principle is that once appellant’s extra judicial statement is the confessional statement the law allows courts to convict an accused upon, appellant’s conviction and its affirmation by the lower court must persist.” PER M. D. MUHAMMAD, J.S.C.
CONVICTION BASED SOLELY ON A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – CONVICTION CAN BE BASED ON THE CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON IN THE ABSENCE OF CORROBORATING EVIDENCE.
“This Court has, in a seemingly endless number of decisions, held that though desired that convictions be based on evidence outside the confessional statement of an accused, a conviction based solely on the confessional statement of the accused, where same is direct, positive and unequivocal, does prevail on appeal inspite of the absence of any corroborating evidence. See lkpasa V. State (1981) 9 SC 7 and Achabua V. state (1996) 12 SC 63.” PER M. D. MUHAMMAD, J.S.C.
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE BEST PROOF OF WHAT THE ACCUSED PERSON HAD DONE
“It is trite that the confessional statement of an accused remains the best proof of what he had done.” PER M. D. MUHAMMAD, J.S.C.
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CONSTITUTES A CLEAR AND COGENT PROOF OF AN ACT OF THE ACCUSED PERSON WHO MADE IT.
“It is here relevant to reiterate the point that a confessional statement constitutes a clear and cogent proof of an act of the accused person who made it. There is no evidence stronger than a person’s own confession. This is so, since no rational being will say a negative thing against his own interest; all things being equal. See Otoha vs. The State (1975) I SC 55.” PER J. A. FABIYI, J.S.C.
VOLUNTARY CONFESSION OF AN ACCUSED PERSON – A VOLUNTARY CONFESSION OF AN ACCUSED PERSON IS SUFFICIENT TO WARRANT A CONVICTION WITHOUT ANY CORROBORATIVE EVIDENCE.
“It is now settled law that a free and voluntary confession of guilt made by an accused person, if it is direct and positive, is sufficient to warrant his conviction without any corroborative evidence as long as the court is satisfied of the truth of the confession. See Jimoh yesufu vs. The state (1976) 6 SC. 167 at 173; Edet Obasi vs. The State (1965) NMLR 119; Idowu vs. The State (2000) 7 SC. (pt. 11) 50.” PER J. A. FABIYI, J.S.C.
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – DESIRABILITY OF HAVING CORROBORATIVE EVIDENCE OUTSIDE AN ACCUSED PERSON’S CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT
“But it is desirable to have outside an accused’s confession to the police, some evidence, be it slight of the circumstances which make it probable that the confession was true. See Paul Onochie & Ors. vs. The Republic (1966) NMLR 307; R. V. Kanu 14 WACA 30; Koiki vs. The State (1976) 4 SC. 107 at 111; Ikemson vs. The State (1989) 3 NWLR (pt. 110) 455.” PER J. A. FABIYI, J.S.C.
IDENTITY OF AN ACCUSED PERSON IN CASES OF ARMED ROBBERY – EFFECT OF FAILURE OF THE TRIAL COURT TO CONSIDER THE IDENTITY OF AN ACCUSED PERSON IN CASES OF ARMED ROBBERY
“There is no doubt that in cases of armed robbery, the identity of an accused person is always an issue and failure of the trial court to consider it when properly raised is fatal to the prosecution’s case.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.
IDENTIFICATION PARADE – WHEN IDENTIFICATION PARADE WOULD BE NECESSARY
“An identification parade only becomes necessary for instance, where the victim of the crime did not know the accused person before his acquitance with him during the commission of the offence. It is settled law that an identification parade is very essential and useful whenever there is doubt as to the ability of a victim to recognize the suspect who participated in carrying out the crime or where identity of the accused is in dispute. Where there is certainty or no dispute as to the identity of the perpetrator of a crime, there will be no need for an identification parade. See; Tirimisiyu Adebavo Vs. The State (2014) 12 NWLR (Pt.1422) 613; (2014) S SCM 34; (2014) 5-6 SC (Pt.2) 68.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.
JUDGMENT OF LOWER COURTS – AN APPELLATE COURT WOULD ONLY INTERFERE WITH THE CURRENT JUDGMENT OF LOWER COURTS WHERE THE APPELLANT ADDUCES A COGENT REASON FOR SUCH INTERFERENCE
“The law is very well settled that a current judgment of two lower courts will not ordinarily be interfered with unless the appellant adduces a cogent reason to do so.” PER C. B. OGUNBIYI, J.S.C.
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – NATURE OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT THAT CAN SUSTAIN A CONVICTION
“It has long been settled, in a long line of authorities, that a free and voluntary confession of guilt, whether judicial or extra-judicial, if it is direct and positive and, properly, established, is sufficient proof of guilt. As such, it is enough to sustain a conviction so long as the court is satisfied with the truth thereof , Yusufu v The State (1976) 6 SC 167,I73; Okegbu v The State (1984)8 SC 65; Kim v The State  4 SCNJ 81, 110; (I992)4 NWLR (pt. 233) 17; Ikpo and Anor v. The State  2 SCNJ 64,75; (1995) 9 NWLR (pt. 427) 540; Igago v The State (1999) 12 SCNJ 140;  6 NWLR (pt. 608) 568; Hassan v The State (2001) 7 SCNJ 643; (2001) 7 NSCQR 107, 109; (2001) 15 NWLR (pt.735) 184; Olalekan v State (2OO2)4 WRN 146; (2001)18 NWLR (pt. 746) 793, 824; Salawu v. State (I971) NMLR 249; Nwachukwu v The State (2007) LPELR -8075 (SC) 34, 36.” PER C. C. NWEZE, J.S.C.
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – RATIONALE FOR THE DESIRABILITY OF HAVING CORROBORATIVE EVIDENCE OUTSIDE AN ACCUSED PERSON’S CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT
“However, outside the confession, it is desirable to have some corroborative evidence, no matter how slight, of circumstances which make it probable that the said confession is true and correct. The reason for this prescription is simple: courts are not, generally, disposed to act on a confession without testing the truth thereof, Onochie and Ors v The Republic (1966) NMLR 307; Rv. Sykes (1913) 8 CAR 233,236. For the purpose of the test, the court would be expected to consider the question: whether the accused person had the opportunity of committing the offence charged and whether the confession was consistent with other facts which have been ascertained and proved at the trial? Queen v. Obiasa (1962) 1 ANLR 65;  2 SCNLR 402; Ikpasa v. Attorney-General of Bendel State(1981) 9 SC 7; Akpan v The State[I992] 6 NWLR (pt. 248) 439, 460; (1992)7 SCNJ 22; Kanu v The King (1952) 14 WACA 30; The Queen v. Obiasa (1962) 1 All NLR 651; (1962) 1 SCNLR I37; Obosi v The State (1965) NMLR 129; Jafiya Kopa v. The State (1971) 1 All NLR I50,Dawa v The State (1980) 8 -11 SC 236; Ejinima v The State (1991) 5 LRCN 1640, 167I; Arthur Onyejekwe v The State[I992] 4 SCNJ 1, 9; (1992)3 NWLR (Pt. 230) 444; Aiguoreghian and Anor. v. The State (2004) 3 NWLR (pt 860) 367; (2004)1 SCNJ 65;  1 SC (pt.1) 65.” PER C. C. NWEZE, J.S.C.
STATUTES REFERRED TO
Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) Act Cap 398 of the laws of the Federation 1990