⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Haruna Rafiu v. The State (2012) – CA
Court of Appeal
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Stanley Shenko Alagoa, J.C.A
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
– A. A. Adedeji
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
– J. K, Omotosho
The Appellant Haruna Rafiu was sentenced 21 years imprisonment for robbery by the High Court.
The case for the Prosecution was that on the 17th January 2007, the Complainant one Aminat Olufade who gave evidence in the court below as PW1, engaged the services of a motorcyclist to take her to Printing Corporation in Abeokuta and as she was about to alight from the motorcycle, the motorcyclist slowed down while another motorcyclist emerged beside her and forcefully picked her bag and sped off.
Inside her stolen bag were the following items MTN, GLO, V-Mobile lines as well as recharge cards of MTN, GLO, Multilinks v. Mobile and MTS. She also had phones viz: Nokia 1100 and Sagem MYX2 and a School Identity Card of Federal polytechnic, Ilaro and National Identity Card. Also in the stolen bag was a bunch of keys. The Nokia Phone contained a virtual top up which is for buying from MTN directly to transferring to her phone so as to sell to Customers.
The Complainant (pW1) was shouting “thief” “thief” and asked the rider of the motorcycle whose services she had engaged to ride faster so as to catch up with the other rider thief. When they got to CBN they lost sight of the other motorcyclist. The Mobile police at CBN helped PW1 to arrest the rider, of the motorcycle she had engaged because she (PW1) suspected that the rider of that motorcycle had planned the incident with the runaway motorcyclist. She (PW1) therefore took the rider of the motorcycle whose services she had engaged and handed him over to Ibara Police Station. Continuing with her evidence PW1 said that two weeks after the incident, MTN brought an itemised bill which contained the list of calls, duration and numbers called. She (PW1) was able to check the last number she called and discovered that 15 minutes after her phone was stolen some calls were made. She then called the three numbers that had been called after her phone was stolen. The first two numbers did not go through but the third number went through. A lady who had picked the call informed her that she was at Isale-Ake which information she (PW1) passed on to the police. A police woman by name Sister Joy accompanied her to see the lady caller and fortunately she was arrested.
At the police station the lady arrested said it was one Seyi that had called her. As the police were about to go in search of Seyi to arrest him, he (Seyi) was seen at the Police Station and was arrested. Seyi who was the 3rd accused in the court below informed the police that it was the Appellant that took PW1’s bag and that it was from the Appellant that he (Seyi) obtained the phone and the Appellant admitted collecting the bag from PW1.
Suffice it to say at this stage that the case went on to be fully heard in the court below, the Prosecution and the Defence calling evidence and tendering exhibits and at the conclusion of the trial, the learned trial Judge in a considered judgment delivered on the 30th June 2011 held that the Prosecution had proved the offence of Robbery against the Appellant (then 1st accused) beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to 21 years imprisonment.
The Appellant has herein appealed.
1. Whether in the circumstances of this case, the Charge of Robbery could be said to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt by the Respondent?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
[APPEAL: ALLOWED, SENTENCE REDUCED]
1. ISSUE 1 was judged in favour of the Appellant.
i. The point must be made that the evidence of PW1 and PW2 have been consistent and free flowing and have not been punctured by cross-examination. The Statement of the Appellant Haruna Rafiu admitted as Exhibit P2 by the learned trial Judge is no doubt confessional in nature. It gives in graphic detail how he carried out the operation of snatching the bag of PW1 on the 17th January 2007 after which he took the bag to the house of one Alfa with whom the bag of PW1 was opened and cash and recharge cards were found in it. The Appellant even went on to say in his confessional statement that the motorcyclist who conveyed PW1 on the day in question 17th January 2007 was innocent of the crime. The crux of the matter at this stage is whether the evidence of the Prosecution witnesses and the confessional statement of the Appellant fit into the definition of stealing for a start. I am not in doubt from these pieces of evidence and the confessional statement of the Appellant which are not contradicted by crossexamination that at the point and time that the Appellant snatched the bag with its contents from PW1, he intended to convert same to his use or to the use of any other person and therefore to permanently deprive PW1 of the bag and its contents. The Prosecution has therefore succeeded in proving the offence of stealing against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt.
ii. The evidence of PW1 does not show that there was actual violence or threatened violence employed by the Appellant in dispossessing PW1 of her bag and its contents. The charge of robbery has therefore not in my view been established by the Prosecution against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt and must fail. Having said that, there is no gainsaying the fact that the offence of stealing was proved by the Prosecution against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt. A person can be convicted of a lesser offence than that with which he is charged.
iii. For the offence of Robbery to be established, there must not only be proof of stealing, the stealing must be accompanied by either actual violence or threatened violence. The offence of stealing has already been established by the Prosecution beyond reasonable doubt. Was the stealing by the Appellant of the bag and its contents belonging to PW1 accompanied by actual violence or threatened violence? To my mind the term actual violence can only refer to the use of or resort to some physical violence on the person of another to deprive that person of his property such as beating or physical blows. It is not necessary that the victim sustains injury in the process. In the case of threatened violence, the thief makes no physical contact with his victim. Threatened violence can either be by action or by words which leave the victim in no doubt at all that he will be severely dealt with if he refuses to part with his property to the thief. Examples are a clenched fist and/or words of threat. If this test is applied has the offence of Robbery been proved by the Prosecution against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt?
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
Robbery” is defined under the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap R11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 as – “Stealing anything and at or immediately before or after the time of stealing it, using or threatening to use actual violence to any person or property in order to obtain or retain the thing stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to its being stolen or retained.”
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
There is the legal aphorism that the devil himself does not know the intention of man. Intention is inferred from overt acts. We shall look at the various pieces of evidence adduced in arriving at a conclusion one way or the other. – Shenko, JCA. Rafiu v. State (2013)