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USMAN SAMINU (AKA DANKO) V THE STATE

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USMAN SAMINU (AKA DANKO) V THE STATE

LEGALPEDIA ELECTRONIC CITATION: LER[2019]SC.38/2016

AREAS OF LAW:

Appeal, Court, Criminal Law And Procedure, Law Of Evidence, Practice And Procedure, Words And Phrases

SUMMARY OF FACT:

The 1st accused/Appellant, was alleged to have, on the 28th June, 1996, in Rugar Wake village in Kuraye District of Charanchi Local Government Area of Katsina State, conspired with three others to break into the house of one Indo Dago with the intent of robbing her and to have indeed robbed the said Indo Dago of the sum of N650.00 (six hundred and fifty Naira), while armed with a knife and to have in the course of the robbery, stabbed the said Indo Dago with the knife causing a deep hole in her neck which led to her death. By an amended charge, they were arraigned before the High Court of Katsina State, holden at Katsina, on a two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery contrary to Section 5(b) and 1(2) (b) of the Robbery and Firearms Act Cap.398 No.5, Laws of the Federation, 1990 as amended. The Appellant pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge and the matter proceeded to trial. At the end of the trial, the court found the Appellant guilty as charged, and was convicted and sentenced to death. Being aggrieved with the judgment of the trial court, the Appellant appealed to the court below, which found the appeal lacking in merit and dismissed same. Being further aggrieved by the lower court’s decision, the Appellant filed this instant appeal.

HELD:

Appeal Dismissed

ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION:

  • Whether the court below was right in affirming the decision of the trial court that the prosecution proved its case  against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt, relying on the alleged confessional statement of the appellant.

RATIONES:

CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS- APPROPRIATE APPROACH TO AN INDICTMENT THAT CONTAINS CONSPIRACY AND SUBSTANTIVE CHARGES

“Generally, it is trite law that the proper approach to an indictment which contains conspiracy charge and substantive charges is to deal with the latter first, that is, the substantive charge and then proceed to see how far the conspiracy count has been made out in answer to the fate of the charge of conspiracy.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

PROOF OF CONSPIRACY- WHETHER A FAILURE TO PROVE SUBSTANTIVE OFFENCE RENDERS A CONVICTION FOR CONSPIRACY INAPPROPRIATE

“Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to do an unlawful act. Therefore, failure to prove substantive offence does not, in  any  way,  make  conviction  for conspiracy inappropriate, being a separate and distinct offence in itself, independent of the actual offence conspired to commit. See; Segun Balogun Vs. A.G. Ogun State (2002 2 SC (Pt. ll) 89; (2002), 4 SCM 23; (2002) 2 SCNJ 196; Osetola Vs. The State (2012) 17 NWLR (Pt.1329) 251; (2012) 12 SCM (Pt.2) 347.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

ROBBERY AND ARMED ROBBERY- DISTINCTION BETWEEN ROBBERY AND ARMED ROBBERY

“Robbery generally is the illegal taking of property from the person of another or in the person’s presence by violence or intimidation. While armed robbery is robbery committed by a person carrying a dangerous weapon regardless of whether the weapon is revealed or used. See; Akeem Agboola Vs. The State (2013) LPELR – 20652; (2013) 11 NWLR (Pt.1366) 619; (2013) 8 SCM 157; (2013) All FWLR (Pt.704) 139; (2013) 54 NSCQR (Pt. ll) 1162; (2013) 5 SCNJ 653.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY – ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OF THE OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY A PROSECUTION MUST ESTABLISH

“It is trite law that for the prosecution to establish the offence of armed robbery, the following are required to be proved:-

  • That there was infact a robbery or series of robberies;
  • That the robbery was an armed robbery;
  • That the accused person was the armed robber or one of the armed robbers.

See; Bozin Vs. State (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt.8) 465 at 467; Alabi Vs. State (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt.307) 551; Olavinka Vs. State (2007) 9 NWLR (Pt.1040) 561; (2007) 8 SCM 193; Osetola & Anor Vs. The State (supra).” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

PROOF OF GUILT- WAYS OF PROVING THE GUILT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON

“The law is settled that there are various ways of proving the guilt of an accused person standing trial. It can be proved by:

(a) Confessional Statement of an accused person;

  • Evidence of eye witness of the crime;
  • Circumstantial evidence.

See; Agboola Vs. The State (Supra); Nigerian Navy & Ors Vs. Lambert (2007) 18 NWLR (Pt.1066) 300; Alufohai Vs. The State (2014) 12 SCM (Pt.2) 122; (2015) 3 NWLR (Pt.1445) 172.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE- WHETHER AN ACCUSED PERSON IS REQUIRED TO PROVE HIS INNOCENCE

“Under our criminal justice system, an accused person is presumed innocent until the prosecution prove his guilt. Hence, an accused is not expected to prove his innocence before the law court. It is clearly the duty of the prosecution to establish the charge against an accused beyond reasonable doubt. See; Uche Williams Vs. The State (1992) 10 SCNJ 74; (1992) NWLR (Pt.261) 515; (1992) LPELR – 3492.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

ADMISSIBILITY OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- CONDITIONS FOR THE ADMISSIBILITY OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

“Ordinarily, a confessional statement of a suspect 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. See; Solomon Thomas Akpan Vs. The State (1992) NWLR,(Pt.248) ; (1992) & SCNJ 22; (1992) LPELR – 381. And it is well settled that a confessional statement does not become inadmissible merely because it is subsequently retracted by the maker.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- MEANING OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

“Generally, by virtue of Section 29(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011, Laws of the Federation, a confessional Statement is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime, stating or suggesting the inference that he committed the crime. It is an extrajudicial statement made by an accused person to the Police containing assertion of admission showing that he participated in the commission of the offence for which he stands accused. Therefore, once admitting the charge or creating the impression that he committed the offence charged, the statement becomes confessional.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- WHETHER THE RETRACTION OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT AFFECTS ITS ADMISSIBILITY

“When a confessional statement has been proved to have been made voluntarily and it is positive, direct and unequivocal, it amounts to an admission of guilt and it is enough to sustain the conviction of an accused. Any subsequent retraction by the maker of such a statement, in the cause of the trial, does not affect the admissibility of such a confession. See; Egboghonome Vs. The State Q9931 7 NWLR (Pt.30.6) 383; Bature Vs. The State (1994) 1 NWLR (Pt,.320) 267; Sotola Vs. The State (2014) 12 NWLR (Pt.1422) 613; (2014) 8 SCM 34; (2014) 50-6 SC (Pt.2) 68.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – WHETHER A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT ALONE CAN GROUND A CONVICTION IN THE ABSENCE OF CORROBORATION

 “And it is well settled that once the court is satisfied with its truth, a proved confessional statement alone is sufficient to ground and support conviction without corroboration. However, the test for determining the veracity or otherwise of a confessional statement is to seek any other evidence, no matter how slight, of circumstances which make it probable that the confession is true. See; Asirmyu Afarape & Ors Vs. The State (2001) LPELR – 412; (2001) 5 NWLR (Pt.705) 79; (2001) 3 SCM 1;(2001) 2 SC114.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- TEST FOR DETERMINING THE VERACITY OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

“However, notwithstanding the status of the confessional statement of the appellant, the court is enjoined to apply the required tests to the said confessional statement to verify the veracity or otherwise of the statement. The tests are:-

(a) Whether there is anything outside the confession to show that it is true;

  • Whether the statement is corroborated no matter how slight;
  • Whether the facts contained therein so far as can be tested, are true;
  • Whether the accused person had the opportunity of committing the offence;

(e)   ( Whether the confession of the accused person was possible;

(f)    Whether the confession was consistent with other fact
which has been ascertained and proved in the matter.

See; Alarape & Ors Vs. The State (supra) Akpan Vs. State (2001) 11 SCM 66; (2001) 53 WRN 1; Osetofa & Anor Vs. The State (Supra).” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

CONCURENT FINDINGS OF LOWER COURT- ATTITUDE OF THE SUPREME COURT TO CONCURENT FINDINGS BY LOWER COURTS

“As he pointed out, this Court is always reluctant to interfere with the concurrent findings of the two Courts below, and this is more so, when an Appeal turns on the issue of credibility – see Ogundiyan V. State (1991) 3 NWLR (Pt. 181) 519SC, wherein Obaseki, JSC, observed:

Without any clear errors in law or fact leading to or occasioning miscarriage of justice, this Court will not interfere with the concurrent findings. It is settled law that there must be clear proof of error either of law or of fact on record, which has occasioned miscarriage of justice before the Supreme Court can upset or reverse concurrent findings. In other words, where there is sufficient evidence to support the concurrent findings of fact by two lower Courts, such findings will not be disturbed unless there is significant error apparent on the Record.”

  • PER A. A. AUGIE, J.S.C.

STATUTES REFERRED TO:

Evidence Act, 2011

Robbery and Firearms Act Cap.398 No.5, Laws of the Federation, 1990 as amended

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