⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Sunday Iyaro v. The State (1988) – SC
⦿ LITE HOLDING
When a person does nothing to prevent the commission of a crime he would be charged as a party to the commission of the crime.
⦿AREA OF LAW
Possession of dangerous weapon.
(1988) All N.L.R. 234
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
Sunday Iyaro (the appellant) and Godwin Nnawalue were jointly charged with Robbery and conspiracy to commit Robbery contrary to Sections 402(2) and 403A respectively of Cap 32, Laws of Lagos State. They pleaded not guilty to both charges. Witnesses were called by the prosecution to prove the charges as stipulated in Section 137(1) of the Evidence Act. Both accused elected to give evidence on oath and also called witnesses – two for the 1st accused and one for the 2nd accused.
At the end of the trial, the learned trial Judge, Kotun, considered the evidence adduced and made the following findings:- “Having regard to S.7 of the Criminal Code and the evidence placed before me, the 1st Accused and 2nd Accused are criminally liable for the act of armed robbery committed by the five men who were armed with daggers when they attacked the 1st P.W. and 2nd P.W. in taxi No. LA 3483 AL at Mile 2 on the 7th November, 1982. I found that the prosecution has proved the case against the 1st Accused and 2nd Accused beyond reasonable doubt on Counts one, two and three of the charges.”
The two convicts appealed to the Court of Appeal, Lagos, against conviction. And in a majority judgment of 2 to 1, the appeal of the 2nd accused was allowed while that of the 1st accused was dismissed unanimously.
It is against the dismissal of his appeal that the appellant has now appealed to this Court; and henceforth he will be referred to as the appellant.
1. The learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law and misdirected themselves in afirming the conviction of the appellant for armed robbery when there is no evidence in law to support the verdict for armed robbery.
⦿ RESOLUTION OF ISSUE(S)
1. GROUND 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. In the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal by Kutigi, J.C.A., with which both Ademola and Kolawole, JJ.C.A., unanimously agreed, as regards the conviction of the appellant, the learned Justice quoted excerpts of findings on the prosecution’s evidence accepted by the learned trial Judge which proved the guilt of the appellant. In his supporting judgment, Kolawole, J.C.A., summarised these findings as follows: “There is overwhelming evidence before the learned Judge to establish that the first appellant was particep criminis with regard to the actual robbery. He obviously knew about until he got to where his confederates emerged clearly suggested that the robbery was planned and the first appellant was neck deep in it. The first appellant parked his vehicle to enable the armed robbers to scrape the victims clean of their possession, he folded his arms and did nothing during the robbery which was committed with him sitting in his car. When the bandits had finished with the first victim, the first appellant called their attention to the second who was similarly robbed. The first appellant was requested to stop for the victims at the Festac Police Station so that they might lodge a report but he did not stop. All those are strong evidence of the first appellant’s involvement in the robbery. By virtue of section 7 of the criminal code cap 31 Laws of Lagos State the first appellant is a principal offender to the crime of armed robbery.”
ii. The conduct of the appellant from the time he picked 1st P.W. and 2nd P.W. in his taxi to the time he parked the same at Mile Two on Badagry Express Way to facilitate the commission of the robbery on the aforementioned witnesses, leaves no room for doubt that the whole incident had been prearranged. As for the actual robbery with violence committed on 1st P.W. and 2nd P.W., they gave clear and cogent evidence which the learned trial Judge painstakingly considered and accepted. Part of his finding on the evidence reads- “The evidence led before me showed that the six boys that attacked the 1st P,W. and 2nd P.W. in taxi No LA 3483 AL on that 7th November, 1982 were armed with daggers which established the particulars of the offences stated in counts two and three of the Charge.”. “The evidence placed before me showed that 1st and 2nd Accused were in company of five armed men that attacked and robbed 1st P.W. and 2nd P.W. in taxi No. LA 3483 AL at Mile Two on 7th November, 1982.”
It was not dispute, having regard to the evidence adduced and the findings of the learned trial Judge thereon that robbery was committed on 1st P.W. and 2nd P.W.; but what was vehemently disputed was whether there was evidence linking the appellant with it and with that certainty which is required as a pre-requisite to any conviction in a criminal case. The learned trial Judge rightly inferred in my view, from the evidence before him that “the preparatory operation of the 1st Accused…and which he…was to perform is to get a victim or victims as passengers in the taxi cab LA 3483 AL to the arranged spot.” The circumstantial evidence is so strong against the appellant that no inference can be made from it other than that of guilt. See Onochie v. The Republic (1966) N M.L.R. 307. As Unsworth F.J. said in The Queen v. Donald Ororosokode (1960) F.S.C.208 at 210 that- “It is true that there are cases in which circumstantial evidence may be the best evidence because (as has been said) it is capable of proving a proposition with the precision of mathematics.” See also Edet Obasi v. The State (1965) N.M.L.R. 129 and R. v. Tapper (1952) A.C.480 at 489.
In the result, the conviction of the appellant by the trial court for the offence of armed robbery which was subsequently affirmed on appeal by the Court of Appeal Lagos, is hereby confirmed.
The appeal is dismissed.
S. 7 Criminal code.
⦿ SOME PROVISION(S)
⦿ RELEVANT CASE(S)
⦿ CASE(S) RELATED
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
The essential ingredients of the offence under section 7 is the procuration of another person to do or to omit to do any act of such a nature that if he had himself done the act or made the omission, the act or omission would have constituted an offence on his part. He would be liable to the same punishment as a principal as if he had himself committed the act or omission. – Wali, JSC. Iyaro v. State (1988)
The learned trial Judge who saw the witnesses on both sides, who heard them testify who had the opportunity of watching their demeanour was fully entitled to believe one side and disbelieve the other, when this happens an appellate Court is usually very reluctant and very slow to interfere. The trial judge believed the stories of P.W.1 and P.W.2 Mrs Molokwu and Mrs Mazeli, victims of the robberies. He disbelieved the Appellant and his witnesses and at p.89 of the record made findings of fact. – Oputa, JSC. Iyaro v. State (1988)