CASE TITLE: OBAKPNOVWE v. STATE (2023) LPELR-61092(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 1ST AUGUST, 2023
PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
LEAD JUDGMENT: ABUBAKAR MAHAMUD TALBA, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on the offenses of Conspiracy to commit Arson and Arson.
This appeal is against the judgment of Delta State High Court, Effurun Judicial Division, delivered on January 31, 2018 in Suit No. S/57C/2015.
On September 27, 2014, one Victor Ayomanor died and as a result, a mob went to the house belonging to Elizabeth Edjeba, wife of Johnson Edjeba. They poured the fuel around the compound and set it ablaze. On March 22, 2017, Appellant was arraigned before the High Court of Justice, Delta State, on a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit felony to wit arson, punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code and arson, punishable under Section 443 of the Criminal Code.
The Appellant pleaded not guilty. The trial Judge found the Appellant guilty and convicted him. He was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for the offense of conspiracy and 10 years imprisonment for the offense of arson.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial Court, the Appellant appealed.
ISSUE(S) FOR DECISION:
The Court determined the appeal on a sole issue for determination:
“In view of the evidence adduced before the trial Court, whether the learned trial Judge was right when he held that “it is clear that the accused was at the scene of crime and since PW1 evidence is not discredited, I am left with no alternative than to find the accused person guilty as charged for both offenses of conspiracy and arson.”
In its final analysis, the Court dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.
- EVIDENCE – PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT – Whether proof beyond reasonable doubt means proof beyond all shadow of doubt
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – DOUBT – Effect of doubt in criminal proceedings/whether doubt must be resolved in favour of the accused
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – GUILT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON – How to establish/prove the guilt of an accused person
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY – Ingredients the prosecution must prove to succeed in a charge of conspiracy
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – OFFENCE OF ARSON – Statutory definition and ingredients of the offence of Arson
- EVIDENCE – EVIDENCE OF AN EYE WITNESS – Position of the law where an eye witness omits to mention at the earliest opportunity the name(s) of the person(s) seen committing an offence
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – CONVICTION – Whether a conviction can be based on speculation, suspicion or hearsay
- EVIDENCE – CALLING OF WITNESS(ES) – Whether in a criminal trial, a host of witnesses is required by the prosecution to achieve a proof beyond reasonable doubt
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – CHARGE(S) – Appropriate time to object to a formal defect in a charge
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – DEFENCE/PLEA OF ALIBI – On whom lies the evidential burden of adducing evidence to support a defence of alibi
- EVIDENCE – ADDRESS OF COUNSEL – Whether address/argument of counsel can take the place of evidence
- EVIDENCE – CREDIBILITY OF WITNESS – Whether the failure of a witness to report to the police makes a person who designs to commit an offense unworthy of credit to testify at the trial