⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Abraham Abiodun v. The State (2016) – CA
Investigating Police Officer;
Court of Appeal
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Uzo I. Ndukwe-anyanwu, J.C.A;
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
- FOR THE APPELLANT
- C.O.P. Emeka;
- FOR THE RESPONDENT
- F.A. Dalley;
The Appellant was charged for attempt to commit robbery at the trial court.
The Prosecution/Respondent called only one witness, one Corporal Sunday Ogbamebor and closed its case. Pw1/IPO testified as follows: that while he and his team were on patrol on 11th June, 2006 they noticed a suspicious commercial bus and decided to tail it. At about 11 pm around Fadeyi bus stop they noticed one of the passengers jumped off the bus unceremoniously and when interviewed he stated to the police team that his reason lay behind the fact he was being taken off his agreed route. This fact strengthened their decision to continue pursuing the bus. Upon reaching the top of the bridge at Fadeyi, they heard screams of distress of passengers and decided to bring the bus to a halt. When that was done the Appellant and two others were thereafter arrested upon identification by the passengers that they tried to rob them.
The Appellant’s counsel on his part filed a no case submission. In delivering his Ruling dated 22nd February, 2010 the trial judge dismissed the 2nd – 5th counts (four counts) of robbery against the Appellant and the two accused persons but however, held that the Appellant had a case to answer in respect of the first count of conspiracy to commit robbery.
Consequently, the Appellant’s counsel opened its case by calling the Appellant DW1, and the other 2 accused as his witnesses. It is the case of the Appellant that he was not part of any conspiracy and stated that as at the time of his arrest he was returning from his job of molding blocks for one Abdul Rasheed Wasiu at Abule Egba. The policemen took him to Pedro police station at Shomolu where he was tortured for allegedly resisting them. He also noted that he was not arrested on 11th June, 2006 (the day the alleged crime was committed).
At the conclusion of the trial, the trial Court in a considered judgment found the Appellant and the two accused persons guilty of the offence and sentenced the Appellant together with the two accused persons to 21years each with hard labour.
Being dissatisfied, the Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal with five (5) grounds.
- Whether the prosecution discharged the burden of proof required by law to establish the offence of Conspiracy against the Appellant?
- Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right to have convicted the Appellant on Exhibit P1, the alleged confessional statement?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
ISSUES 1 & 2 was judged in favour of the Appellant.
i. The vehicle used in that robbery was neither detained and the driver of the vehicle was not identified either. In the usual run of events, if the bus was used in committing a crime, it is detained for sometime until investigation is over. There was no mention of this aspect. You will recall that the IPO said that the patrol team shot at the tires of the vehicle to demobilize it. The IPO forgot to state what happened to the person who was hit by their bullets. I believe that this charge is trumped up to cover for the shooting of an innocent man in a bus. How could the IPO in a patrol car with siren blowing and the blue lights on, see the fracas in the vehicle and hear the sound of the cries of the occupants of the bus. It is unimaginable.
ii. As it stands now, there is no corroboration of the testimony of the Appellant. The IPO, PW1 is not in any position to corroborate any evidence of the Appellant. Without corroboration of the tainted and unreliable evidence of the IPO, PW1, it would be difficult to convict the Appellant with this sort of evidence. Unreliable to say the least!
iii. The prosecution could not prove that there is any agreement between the Appellant and the other two accused persons. Apart from the discredited Exhibit P1, nothing connects the Appellant with the crime. The Appellant stated in evidence that he only met the other two accused persons for the first time in Court. It is true that the conspirators need not know themselves and need not to have agreed to commit the offence at the same time. A conspiracy can be inferred from the facts of doing things, towards a common end, where there is no direct evidence in support of an agreement between the accused persons.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
The job of the IPO is to investigate crime and come to Court to testify as to the form or outcome of his investigations. – Ndukwe-Anyanwu, J.C.A. Abiodun v. State (2016)
From the evidence of the IPO, PW1, he saw a bus and he suspected the occupants of some nefarious activities. He claimed that they followed the bus. He claimed they saw people fighting in the bus and could hear them screaming. He admitted that the patrol car had the siren on and the revolving lights on. The IPO claimed they were pursuing the bus and it stopped and one man jumped out. They interrogated the man who jumped out. The man said the bus was heading away from the destination he called. The man did not say there were robbers in the bus robbing people. The IPO did not get the number of the bus he had been following for a long time. He also did not produce in Court the people the Appellant robbed. He did not recover any of the items stolen. He also claimed that the occupants of the vehicle fired at them and they returned fire by shooting at the tires of the bus. No weapons were recovered from the scene. The above information is the sum of the IPO’s evidence. – Ndukwe-Anyanwu, J.C.A. Abiodun v. State (2016)
Evidence in corroboration must be an independent testimony, direct or circumstantial which confirms in some material particular not only that an offence has been committed but that the accused person has committed it. Corroboration need not consist of direct evidence that the accused person committed the offence nor need it amount to a confirmation of the whole account given by the witness, provided that it corroborates the evidence in some respect material to the charge. – Ndukwe-Anyanwu, J.C.A. Abiodun v. State (2016)
For the offence of conspiracy to be made out, the following must be established. a) There must be a consent of two or more persons. b) There must be an agreement which is an advancement of an intention conceived in the mind of each person secretly i.e. mens rea. c) The secret intention must have been translated into an overt act or omission or mutual consultation and agreement i.e. actus reus. – Ndukwe-Anyanwu, J.C.A. Abiodun v. State (2016)