CASE TITLE: STATE v. GBAHABO & ORS (2019) LPELR-48117(SC)
JUDGMENT DATE: 21ST JUNE, 2019
PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
LEAD JUDGMENT: MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD, J.S.C.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders Criminal Law and Procedure.
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division delivered on the 13th day of June 2013, setting aside the judgment of the Kwara State High 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 Firearms (Special Provisions) Act CAP R11 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
At the High Court, the prosecution tendered one locally-made gun, two live 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 Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/IL/C76/2008 in the Court’s decision delivered on 26th January 2011.
The judgment had been affirmed by the Supreme Court on 3rd July 2015 in Appeal No. SC. 504/2012. The Respondents’ appeal against their conviction and sentence by the High Court was similarly upheld by the Court of Appeal in appeal No. CA/IL/C6/2010 leading to their discharge and acquittal.
Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:
- Whether the Court Below was right to have set aside the decision of the learned trial judge 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 R 11 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004 against the Respondents.
- 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 and sentence them notwithstanding the Respondents’ defence of being tortured and forced to sign statements they said they never made.
On the whole, the Supreme Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed it.
- CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY: Ingredients required to be proved by the prosecution to establish the offence of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery.
- EVIDENCE – BURDEN OF PROOF/ONUS OF PROOF: On whom lies the burden of proof in criminal cases; how such a burden is discharged.
- CASE LAW – JUDICIAL PRECEDENT/ STARE DECISIS: What the doctrine of stare decisis entails.
- EVIDENCE – PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT: Effect of failure of the prosecution to prove a criminal case beyond reasonable doubt.
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