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Dogo v. State

NMA DOGO

ALIYU DWAFU AGAIE

GARBA MAGAJI

IBRAHIM ABUBAKAR KAGO

ETSU DZUKO NDAKO AGAIE

V

THE STATE

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

SALIHU MODIBBO ALFA BELGORE, JSC ( Presided )

SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC

ANTHONY IKECHUKWU IGUH, JSC

ALOYSIUS IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU, JSC

AKINTOLA OLUFEMI EJIWUNMI, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SC.44/2000

FRIDAY, 26TH JANUARY, 2001.

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Alibi - Defence of alibi - Where raised by accused - Failure of prosecution to disprove - Effect

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Alibi - Defence of alibi - Where set up by accused - Onus of debunking such lies on prosecution

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Material evidence -Where against accused - Need for to be clear and unequivocal

EVIDENCE - Contradiction in evidence of witness - Effect of

EVIDENCE - Contradiction in evidence of witness - Where exists - Duty on court to make findings and state clearly the effect of such

EVIDENCE - Contradictions and inconsistencies in prosecution evidence -  Where exist - Duty on court to resolve in favour of accused

EVIDENCE -  Witness - Credibility of witness - Duty of witness to display habitual veracity

EVIDENCE - Witness - Credibility of witness - Essential ingredients -Duty of witness to display habitual veracity

EVIDENCE - Defence of alibi - Where set up by accused - Onus of debunking such lies on prosecution

EVIDENCE - Material evidence -Where against accused - Need for to be clear and unequivocal

Issues:

  1. Whether, from the nature and circumstances of this case, the prosecution had actually proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against the appellants despite the obvious contradictions in evidence of PW4.
  2. Whether the affirmation of the conviction and sentences imposed on the appellants by the trial court in the way and manner it was done by the Court of Appeal was not unreasonable and against the weight of evidence adduced at the trial.

Facts:

The appellants were convicted for the offences of conspiracy and culpable homicide contrary to sections 97 and 221(a) of the Penal Code by Minna High Court on February 22, 1996.

The prosecution’s case against the appellants was that on or about the 9th - 13th day of February, 1994, the appellants agreed to do an illegal act, to wit, to cause the death of one Alhaji Ibrahim Tsadu (former Chairman of Agaie Local Government Council) and that on 13 February, 1994, they beat and stabbed the said Alhaji Ibrahim Tsadu.  He died later from the injuries sustained from the stabbing.

In the course of their investigation, the police arrested 13 persons, the appellants inclusive, and they were subsequently arraigned before the Niger State High Court.  At the end of the trial, the appellants were convicted of conspiracy and culpable homicide, punishable with death.  The other accused persons were discharged and acquitted.

PWs 1, 2 and 16 were in company of the deceased. None of them could give an eye-witness account of the persons who attacked and killed the deceased.  This was so because at the time of the attack, it was dark. All these witnesses said the attack took place after 8 p.m.  This leaves us with the evidence of PW4, Umaru Mohammed, who claimed he saw and identified the appellants as the persons who attacked and killed the deceased on the fateful night.  PW4 was not in the company of the deceased and although the trial court relied heavily on his evidence, it was full of material discrepancies and contradictions as to the time and place the witness was when the incident happened.  After a visit to the locus in quo, the record shows  that there was a distance of about 910 feet from the first culvert, where PW4 stood, to where he sighted some persons.Contrariwise,PW4 said in his evidence in chief that it was about 45 feet.  Based on the distance and the time which the heinous crime was committed, id est, 8.00p.m., it was palpably impossible to see and identify people at such a far distance.

The trial court convicted the appellants and their convictions were affirmed by the Court of Appeal.  Dissatisfied with the judgment on appeal, they have further appealed to the Supreme Court.