⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Michael Oloye v. The State (2018) – SC
by NSA PaulPipAr
⦿ AREA OF LAW
– Criminal Law
– Armed robbery;
– Tendering of confessional statement;
– conspiracy to commit robbery;
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Olukayode Ariwoola, J.S.C.
* FOR THE APPELLANT
– Femi Onibalusi, Esq.
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
– Mark Mordi, Esq.
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
The appellant and one other were arraigned and charged with the following offences:
COUNT 1: Conspiracy to commit a felony to wit Armed Robbery contrary to Section 6(b) and punishable under Section 1(2) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, (Cap.R.11) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
COUNT 2: Armed Robbery, Contrary to Section 1(2) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, (Cap. R.11) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. The appellant was the 1st accused while one Sunday Adoba was the 2nd accused person. Upon the reading of the charge to both of them, each pleaded not guilty to the charge and the case proceeded to hearing. The prosecution called three witnesses while each of the accused testified in defence but did not call any other independent witness.
The defence of the two accused persons was total denial. However, the trial Court found that even though each of the two accused denied robbing the PW1, their evidence in almost every material particular confirms the case of the prosecution. Upon review of the total evidence adduced, the trial Court found that the prosecution proved the two counts of conspiracy and robbery against the two accused persons beyond reasonable doubt. They were found guilty, convicted and respectively sentenced to 14 and 21 years imprisonment on each of the two counts.
The Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal which dismissed the Appeal. Hence, a further appeal to the Supreme Court.
1. Whether the Honourable Justices of the Court of Appeal 5 erred in law to hold that Exhibit 42 was admissible as a confessional statement when the recorder of the Statement Sgt. Njoku peters was not called as witness to tender the Statement in evidence.
2. Whether the Honourable Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law to hold that the confessional statement, Exhibit A and A2 (if at all admissible) are corroborated and consistent with the other evidence presented by the Prosecution in proof of the offence of conspiracy and robbery.
3. Whether the Honourable Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law to hold that contradictions in the evidence of PW1 and PW2 are not material and relevant to the proof of the ingredients of the offence of conspiracy and robbery.
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1 & 2: ISSUES 1 & 2 WERE RESOLVED TOGETHER IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT BUT AGAINST THE APPELLANT.
i. In particular, Exhibit A2, inter alia, reads thus: “I am a native of Amai in Kwale Delta State. I attended my Primary School at ICC Primary School, Oke Bola, Ibadan in 1976. When transfer took my father to Akure, I attended my Secondary School at Oyemekun Grammar School and completed my school Certificate in 1986. I equally attended Technical School at Ijero Ekiti.”
From the above, it is clear that the appellant is literate and surely made his statement to the police in English Language as recorded, in the said Exhibit A2, the appellant gave graphic details of how the robbery incident was planned and carried out by him and his cohorts.
ii. In the instant case the two statements were found satisfactorily proved to be voluntary confession of the appellant and duly corroborated. Indeed, there was no retraction by the appellant. As earlier noted, Exhibit A was admitted without objection while Exhibit A2, which is replica of Exhibit A was only objected on the basis of proper custody. That, it was not being tendered by the Police Officer who took the statement, That point was misconceived and is of no moment in this case.
iii. Without any further ado, I am satisfied that the Court below was right to have held that Exhibits A & A2 were confessional statements voluntarily made by the appellant to the police and were rightly admitted as Exhibits by the trial Court. The absence of Sgt. Njoku Peters who obtained Exhibit A2 was explained away and his own statement Exhibit c, covered any gap, if at all, in prosecution’ case. In other words, Exhibits A and A2 being confessional statements voluntarily made by the appellant, were no doubt corroborated and indeed consistent with the other evidence of the prosecution to proof the offences of conspiracy and robbery.
3. FOR ISSUE 3, WHICH WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT, THE SUPREME COURT STATED:
This issue was considered in the sister case of the co-accused Sunday Adoga in which judgment was delivered by this Court on 23rd March, 2018 in Appeal No.SC.430/2014. In that case this Court had, inter alia, held as follows: “It is not in all cases where there are discrepancies or contradictions in the prosecution’s case that an accused person will be entitled to an acquittal. It is only when discrepancies or contradictions are on material point or points in the prosecution’s case which create some doubt that the accused person is entitled to benefit therefrom. Minor contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses cannot be fatal to the case of the prosecution.”
In this case, differences as to where the money was kept in the victims’ car from where it was taken away by the appellant and the co-accused, and whether or not the appellant was arrested by the villagers or the police at the Check point cannot be said to be material contradictions to entitle the appellant to acquittal. Minor discrepancies between a previous written statement and subsequent oral testimony will not destroy the credibility of a witness.
⦿ SOME PROVISION(S)
⦿ RELEVANT CASE(S)
⦿ CASE(S) RELATED
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
The law is clear that whenever an interpreter is used in obtaining the statement of an accused, such a statement will be inadmissible unless the interpreter is called as a witness in the tendering of the statement. That was not the situation in this case. – Olukayode Ariwoola, JSC. Oloye v. State (2018)
What is more, it has long been established in law that ordinarily, a free and voluntary confession of guilt by an accused person, whether judicial or extra judicial, if it is direct and positive and is duly made and satisfactorily proved, is sufficient to warrant a conviction even without any corroborative evidence. The most important thing is that the Court must be satisfied that the said confession is direct and positive and is properly proved, before acting on it without corroboration. – Olukayode Ariwoola, JSC. Oloye v. State (2018)
The only occasion where a valid objection can be considered is where the statement of an accused is recorded 41 through an interpreter and the accused makes his statement in his mother tongue which is recorded and later translated into English. In such a situation before the translated version is accepted as authentic, the person who interpreted the statement from the mother tongue into English must be called to testify; otherwise the translated version of the statement will at best be treated as secondary evidence while the one recorded in the mother tongue is taken to be primary evidence. – Bayang Aka’ahs, JSC. Oloye v. State (2018)
Conspiracy generally is an agreement between two or more persons to do an unlawful act, or to carry out a lawful act by unlawful means. This is however said to be a matter of inference to be deduced from certain criminal acts of the suspects, which were carried out in pursuance of an apparent criminal purpose in common between the parties, which are hardly ever confined to one place, Therefore, failure to prove a substantive offence does not, ordinarily make conviction for conspiracy, in any way, inappropriate, being a separate and distinct offence in itself. – Olukayode Ariwoola, JSC. Oloye v. State (2018)