SHOULD A PERSON CHARGED WITH A FEDERAL OFFENCE LIKE ARMED ROBBERY BE CONVICTED FOR A STATE OFFENCE LIKE DISHONESTLY RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY AFTER HE HAS BEEN ACQUITTED OF ARMED ROBBERY?

CASE TITLE: MUSA V. STATE (2020) LPELR-51840(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 3RD DECEMBER, 2020

PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE.

LEAD JUDGMENT: BOLOUKUROMO MOSES UGO, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT

INTRODUCTION: 
This appeal borders on Criminal Law and Procedure.

FACTS: 

This is an appeal/cross-appeal against the decision of the High Court of Bauchi State.

The facts of the case are that on 20/10/2018, armed robbers invaded Yalwan Kadara, Yuguda village, Bauchi State and robbed two motorcycles. One of the motorcycles was sighted the following day by PW3 (Adamu Dawai), a commercial motorcycle rider in Bauchi, while it was being ridden by a third party. That person, by P.W.3’s admission under cross-examination, was not appellant/cross-respondent. In fact, the strange rider of the motorcycle was not even called by the prosecution, even as the police, by the prosecution’s story through P.W.3, also arrested him. P.W.4, a police officer, testified that in the course of investigating a case involving the use of a Vectra car by some three suspected robbers from whom dangerous weapons were recovered, which case by his evidence had been pending with the police for some time, two of the suspects told him that they were in Bauchi on the invitation of one Yakubu Adamu of Bakalo Bauchi, in collaboration with one Alhaji Sani Gwabba, with a view to proceeding to Gwarimpa, Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory to rob a politician’s house. P.W.3 said he and his team arrested the said three occupants of the Vectra car, whereupon one of them called on phone Yakubu Adamu, who he this time identified as appellant/cross-respondent, and told him to come and meet him at a place he simply called Multipurpose. PW4 claimed his team of policemen went with the three men to Multipurpose in the same Bauchi where the pointer pointed out appellant/cross-respondent to him and they arrested him. Upon arrest, he was searched by PW4 and they found in his possession two master keys. Appellant/cross-respondent was then taken to PW4’s superior officer, O/C, who, according to PW4, interrogated him and appellant/cross-respondent mentioned that every day the gang went to rob in Bauchi without a car it was his car they used for their operations. That, he said, was all he knew about the case.


In his defence, appellant/cross-respondent said he was a commercial driver and lived in Bakaro Street in Bauchi; that he was arrested at his place of work by the police who accused him of the theft of a motorcycle. He said in the morning of the day of his arrest by the police, he bought a Boxer brand motorcycle from the person who came with the police to arrest him. Upon his arrest, he said, the police took him to its State C.I.D. Bauchi, where they asked him how he got the motorcycle and he told them that it was someone who sold it to him. That person, he said, is one Musa Isa whom he had not sighted since he has been attending the proceedings of the lower Court. Under cross-examination, he said he made half payment of ₦40,000 for the motorcycle and he was to pay the balance of ₦15,000 at 2.00 pm that same day when he was arrested by the police. He said the seller did not hand over the motorcycle to him; that the seller went back with it after he made part-payment and was later arrested by the police. He claimed to have bought the motorcycle for his son.

It is worth mentioning that it was the recovery of that motorcycle, which by the evidence of P.W.1 and PW2 was one of two motorcycles that were robbed by the robbers that invaded their residences in Yelwan Kadara the previous night that led to the arrest of appellant/cross-respondent. PW1 and 2 who were the victims of the robbery all admitted under cross-examination that they did not recognize the people who robbed them of the motorcycles in the night.

It was on account of the foregoing that the State charged appellant/cross-respondent on three counts of conspiracy to rob under Section 97 of the Penal Code of Bauchi State, abetment under Section 83 of the Penal Code of Bauchi State, and robbery under Section 1 (1) (a) and (b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap R11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 respectively, all of which the trial Judge found not proved but convicted him. Dissatisfied, the Accused Person appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Respondent also filed a cross-appeal.


ISSUES: 

The Court determined the main appeal on this sole issue couched as follows:

“Whether the trial Court had jurisdiction to convict for the lesser offence of dishonestly receiving stolen property from the evidence before it.”

The Court determined the cross-appeal on the issues raised by the parties.


DECISION/HELD: 
On the whole, the Court found merit in the main appeal and accordingly allowed same. The decision of the High Court was therefore set aside. The Court, however, found no merit in the cross-appeal and accordingly dismissed same.

RATIOS:

  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – CONVICTION – Whether a person charged for a federal offence like armed robbery can be convicted for a state offence like dishonestly receiving stolen property after he is acquitted of armed robbery
  • EVIDENCE – BURDEN OF PROOF/STANDARD OF PROOF – Burden and standard of proof in criminal cases; effect of failure of the prosecution to discharge the burden of proof on it
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lawpavilion • December 17, 2020


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