FACTORS THE COURT WILL CONSIDER BEFORE PLACING RELIANCE ON IDENTIFICATION EVIDENCE

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CASE TITLE: SANI LAWALI v. THE STATE (2019) LPELR-46405(SC)

JUDGMENT DATE: 18TH JANUARY, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE

LEAD JUDGMENT: EJEMBI EKO, J.S.C

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on Criminal Law and Procedure.

FACTS

This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, affirming the decision of the High Court of Sokoto State, per D. B. Sambo, J.

The appellant and four others were charged with criminal conspiracy, armed robbery and culpable homicide punishable with death, contrary to Sections 97, 298 (c) and 221 (b) of the Penal Code. It was alleged that, on or about 7th July 2009, the appellant and his co-accused waylaid a commercial bus carrying passengers along Sarwa village Gundumi Isah Road in Sokoto State. All the occupants were asked to lie face down by the 1st accused and dispossessed of their money and valuables. PW6 testified that it was the 1st accused who stood in the middle of the road with a gun and asked the driver to park and it was the appellant who collected his two handsets, money, a recording tape and his new sandals.

PW7 testified that he was driving a different car and ran into the robbery operation. He had his brother and two mobile policemen in his car. As they approached the ongoing armed robbery, the 1st accused, upon sighting the policemen shot at the vehicle. His brother and the two policemen lost their lives in the encounter. PW6 identified both accused in an identification parade. PW7 was only able to identify the 1st accused.

Seven witnesses testified for the prosecution 13 exhibits were tendered. The appellant testified in his own defence and called no other witness. At the conclusion of the trial, the appellant and the 1st accused, Jaho Muhammad, were found guilty on each of the three counts. They were sentenced to death in respect of the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death. No sentence was passed on them in respect of the convictions for criminal conspiracy and armed robbery. The 5th accused was acquitted and discharged.

Appellant’s conviction and sentence were, upon his appeal, affirmed by the Court of Appeal. He therefore appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

The Court determined the appeal on a sole issue viz:

“Whether the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the judgment of the trial Court that the prosecution proved the offences against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.”

 

DECISION/HELD

On the whole, the Apex Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.

RATIOS:

  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- IDENTIFICATION PARADE: Factors the court must consider to guard against mistaken identity in an identification parade
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- DEFENCE/PLEA OF ALIBI: Circumstance where the prosecution need not investigate a defence of alibi raised by the accused
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- IDENTIFICATION PARADE: Circumstances where an identification parade will not be necessary

lawpavilion • February 12, 2019


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