WHEN A PERSON CAN BE CONVICTED FOR AN ATTEMPT TO COMMIT RAPE
CASE TITLE: CHIBUIKE OFORDIKE v. THE STATE (2019) LPELR-46411(SC)
JUDGMENT DATE: 11TH JANUARY, 2019.
PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
LEAD JUDGMENT: JOHN INYANG OKORO, J.S.C.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on the offences of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery and attempted rape.
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal holden at Benin Division delivered on 14th June, 2016 wherein the lower Court upheld the decision of the trial Court.
A summary of the facts leading to this appeal is that one Mrs. Dora Karawe who testified as PW1 was going to Adult School Effurun on 23rd June, 2003 at about 3.00pm when she met the accused person and one other. They stopped her and forcibly took her bag, threatened her with a shot gun and broken bottle, removed the sum of N2,000 (two thousand naira) contained in the bag, dragged her into the bush and raped her because, according to them, the money in the bag was not enough. The PW1 was shouting whilst the act of rape was on and somebody who heard her shout came and they fled. The PW1 and others who also came to the scene pursued and caught the Appellant who was then dragged to the police.
Upon the appellant being caught, he started begging saying “Madam, forgive me, madam forgive me, it is devil work.” The Adult school that PW1 was going to is at Ufuoma Baptist Church, Effurum around Ogheneovo Housing Estate, Effurum. The distance they ran before arresting the appellant was about 200 yards.
The appellant who testified on his behalf before the trial Court denied committing the offences of armed robbery and rape. He testified that on 23rd June, 2003, he was going along PTI Road Effurum on his way to work when he saw two men standing on the road with a boy sitting on the ground. The boy was being questioned, and that he was called by the two men, and getting to them, they freed the boy sitting down and started interrogating him. He told them he was going to buy a pair of shoes and showed them the N5,800 he was going to purchase the shoes which is worth N5,500. He was asked to sit on the ground where upon they sent for a woman who came and was crying and upon seeing him said he looked like the person. The two policemen started beating him and collected the money in his pocket. The police eventually arrived and he was arrested. At the police station, the IPO, according to him, forced him to sign a statement.
At the end of trial at the High Court, both counsel addressed the Court. In his judgment, the learned Trial Judge, on 13th July, 2010 convicted the appellant on three counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery and attempted rape and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour, Death by hanging and seven years imprisonment with hard labour respectively.
Aggrieved with the judgment of the learned trial Judge, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal which upon hearing the appeal, dismissed the appeal in its judgment delivered on 13th July, 2016.
Further dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the appellant has appealed to the Supreme Court.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
Appellant distilled the following issues:
- Whether the Court below was right to uphold the Appellant’s conviction for conspiracy when the prosecution failed to discharge the burden of proof required by law to establish the offence of conspiracy.
- Whether the Court below was right to uphold the Appellant’s conviction on the three counts for which he was charged based on exhibit A, his purported confessional statement, in all the circumstances.
- Whether the Court of Appeal was right when it upheld the Appellant’s conviction for armed robbery and Attempted Rape when the elements of both offences were not established by cogent evidence.
Respondent distilled the following issues:
- Whether the Court below was right to uphold the appellant’s conviction for conspiracy.
- Whether the Court of Appeal was right when it upheld the appellant’s conviction for armed robbery and attempted rape.
- Whether exhibit A, the confessional statement of the Appellant was rightly admitted in evidence.
The appeal was unanimously dismissed by the Apex Court for want of merit.
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- ATTEMPT TO COMMIT AN OFFENCE: When a person can be convicted for an attempt to commit rape
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- OFFENCE OF RAPE: Whether an accused person can be convicted on the uncorroborated evidence of the prosecutrix in a charge of rape
- EVIDENCE- CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: Distinction between a confessional statement challenged on the ground that the accused did not make the statement and confessional statement challenged on the ground that it is not voluntarily made