CAN THE SUPREME COURT ENTERTAIN AN APPEAL DIRECTLY FROM THE DECISION OF THE HIGH COURT?
CASE TITLE: AYOADE v. STATE (2020) LPELR-49379(SC)
JUDGMENT DATE: 24TH JANUARY, 2020
PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
LEAD JUDGE: AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, J.S.C.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on the Offence of Conspiracy to Commit Robbery and Robbery.
This is an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal which affirmed the judgment of the trial Court decided on 1/4/2014 by Hon. justice I. O, Kasali.
The Appellant, as the second Defendant, and two other Defendants were arraigned before the Lagos State High Court on a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit robbery and robbery. They were alleged to have used a toy gun to attack and rob a motorcycle rider and his passenger, and dispossessed them of the sum of N500 and N1,500 respectively.
At the trial, the Prosecution called a sole Witness, Friday Ojiemen, a Policeman attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ikeja, and he tendered the Statement made by the Appellant to the Police. However, Defence Counsel objected to the admissibility of the said Statement in evidence because the Defendant alleged duress in obtaining the Statement. In the circumstances, the trial Court conducted a trial-within-trial, and after its Ruling of 20/4/2012 wherein the Appellant’s confessional Statement was admitted in evidence as Exhibit P2, it adjourned the matter for continuation of the trial.
The Defence Counsel was unavailable on several adjourned dates to cross-examine the PW1, therefore the trial Court considered and granted the Application by the Assistant Chief State Counsel for the Court to foreclose the right of cross-examination by the Defendant counsel. On 30/4/2013, a new Defence Counsel appeared for the Defendant and sought an adjournment to get processes from the former Counsel, and the case was adjourned to 14/5/2013 for defence. The Appellant testified as DW2 on 14/5/2013 when the Defence opened their case. But the trial Court, in its Judgment of 1/4/2014, found him guilty as charged, and convicted and sentenced him to 21 years imprisonment.
The Appellant then appealed to the Court of Appeal, and one of his complaints against the trial Court’s decision was that the trial court had “erred in law when it foreclosed his right to cross-examine PW1″. But in its Judgment delivered on 2/3/2018, the Court of Appeal held that the appeal lacked merit and it was dismissed. The judgment of the trial Court decided on 1/4/2014 by Hon. justice I. O, Kasali was affirmed.
Further aggrieved, he filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal based on a sole issue thus:
Whether the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the judgment of the Trial Court wherein the trial Court foreclosed the Appellant’s right to cross-examine PW1, the Respondent’s sole Witness.
In the final analysis, The Supreme Court held that the appeal lacked merit. It therefore failed and it was dismissed. The Judgment of the Court of Appeal was affirmed.
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