⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
The State v. Emmanuel Gbahabo & Ors (2019) – SC
– Armed Robbery;
– Probative value;
– Confessional Statement;
1. The State;
1. EMMANUEL GBAHABO;
2. ZAKAL NYAN;
3. KAZEEM ADEWOYE;
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Musa Dattijo Muhammad, J.S.C.
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, hereinafter referred to as the lower Court, delivered on the 13th day of June 2013, setting aside the judgment of the Kwara State High Court, hereinafter referred to as the trial Court, in suit No. KWS/15C/2008, delivered on the 18th day of July 2008, convicting the respondents for the offence of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery contrary to Sections 1(2) and 6(b) of the Robbery and Fire arms (Special Provisions) Act CAP R11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
At the trial Court, the prosecution tendered one locally made gun, two life cartridges and the statements of the accused persons as exhibits. Each of the respondents testified for himself. At the end of the trial, the three respondents along with one James Gwangwan were convicted as charged and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment each. James Gwangwan has had his conviction and sentence set aside by the lower Court in Appeal No. CA/IL/C76/2008 in the Court’s decision delivered on 26th January 2011. The judgment has been affirmed by this Court on 3rd July 2015 in Appeal No. SC. 504/2012.
Respondents’ appeal against their conviction and sentence by the trial Court was similarly upheld by the lower Court in appeal No. CA/IL/C6/2010 leading to their discharge and acquittal. The instant appeal is against their discharge and acquittal.
1. Whether the Court Below was right to have set aside the decision of the Learned trial that the prosecution has established the offence of conspiracy to commit armed robbery contrary to the provisions of Section 6(b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special provisions) Act, Cap R11 Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004, against the Respondents.
2. Whether the Court Below was right to have held that the Learned trial Judge simply relied on the alleged confessional statements of the Appellants to convict them notwithstanding the Respondents’ defence of being tortured and forced to sign statements they said they never made.
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
The Supreme Court gave judgement in respect of both two issues against the Appellant and in favour of the Respondent. The Supreme Court held that the evidence of the prosecution/appellant witnesses were contradictory and the prosecution/appellant could not clear such contradictions, hence, an acquittal is necessary.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
To discharge the burden of proof the prosecution, the appellant here, may rely on any or a combination of: (a) Direct evidence of witnesses; (b) Circumstantial evidence and (c) the voluntary confessional statement of the accused. – DATTIJO MUHAMMAD, J.S.C. State v. Gbahabo (2019)
Whereas in proof of the offence of criminal conspiracy to commit armed robbery the appellant must establish facts of the existence of an agreement or confederacy between the respondents to commit the armed robbery, for the offence of armed robbery the appellant must lead evidence to prove that there was robbery or series of robberies each of which was armed robbery and in the commission of which the respondents have participated. – DATTIJO MUHAMMAD, J.S.C. State v. Gbahabo (2019)
A piece of evidence is contradictory only where it is the direct opposite of what was earlier asserted. – DATTIJO MUHAMMAD, J.S.C. State v. Gbahabo (2019)
The doctrine of precedent or stare decisis, the application of which to the facts of this case the respondents urge upon the Court, makes it necessary for a Court to follow its earlier judicial decision when the same issue arises again in litigation. The issue so decided and settled by the pronouncement of a competent Court in which it is directly and necessarily raised is no longer open to consideration and a different ruling by the same Court or by those bound to follow the very ruling. The doctrine is aimed at certainly and discipline in the adjudication process. The only reason entitling Courts from avoiding adherence to the doctrine is either by distinguishing the previous decision from the facts and circumstances of the subsequent case or outright departure. – DATTIJO MUHAMMAD, J.S.C. State v. Gbahabo (2019)
The prosecution has a burden duty in all criminal trials to prove its’ case beyond reasonable doubt and so in a charge of armed robbery such as the present case, the prosecution has to establish on this standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt the following requisite ingredients of the offence of armed robbery, thus: a. That there was robbery or series of robberies. b. That the robbery was an armed robbery carried out with firearms or offensive weapons. c. That the person charged with the offence was one of the robbers or implicated therein. The method of carrying out the proof can be any or a combination of the methods, viz: i. Confessional statement of the accused. ii. Circumstantial evidence linking the accused to the crime. iii. Evidence of an eye-witness. – Uwani Musa, J.S.C. State v. Gbahabo (2019)