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People of Lagos State v. Umaru

THE PEOPLE OF LAGOS STATE

V

MOHAMMED UMARU

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD JSC ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment)

JOHN AFOLABI FABIYI JSC

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI JSC

OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA JSC

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD JSC

SC.455/2012

FRIDAY, 14 MARCH 2014

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Armed robbery - Ingredients of -  How may be proved - Criminal Code Law, section 402(2)(a ) considered

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Burden of proof in trial - Desirability of trial court determining firstly - Failure to - Effect of

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Confessional statement Conviction - Sufficiency of basing on - Where tendered for identification purposes only - Impropriety of court relying on

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Identification evidence  - Conviction - Desirability of trial court cautioning itself before basing thereon

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Recent possession - Doctrine of - Applicability of - Conditions precedent to - Evidence Act, 2004 , section 149(a) considered

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE -Standard of proof required in criminal trials - Burden of - On whom lies - Static nature of Admission by accused - Irrelevance of to duty on to discharge

EVIDENCE - Burden of proof in trial - Desirability of trial court determining firstly - Failure to - Effect of

EVIDENCE - Confessional statement - Conviction - Sufficiency of basing on - Where tendered for identification purposes only - Impropriety of court relying on

EVIDENCE - Evidence which could be produced - Failure to tender Presumption raised by - Evidence Act, 2004, section 149(1) considered

EVIDENCE- Facts - Existence of - When court may presume - Evidence Act, 2004, section 149 considered

EVIDENCE - Recent possession - Doctrine of - Applicability of Conditions precedent to - Evidence Act, 2004, section 149(a) considered

EVIDENCE - Standard of proof required in criminal trials - Burden of  On whom lies - Static nature of - Admission by accused Irrelevance of to duty on to discharge

STATUTE - Criminal Code Law, section 402(2)(a) - Armed robbery Ingredients of - How may be proved

STATUTE - Evidence Act, 2004, section 149 - Facts - Existence of When court may presume

STATUTE- Evidence Act, 2004, section 149 (1) - Evidence which could be produced - Failure to tender - Presumption raised by

STATUTE - Evidence Act, 2004, section 149(a) - Recent possession Doctrine of - Applicability of - Conditions precedent to

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Rush’- Meaning of

Issues:

  1. Whether considering the circumstances of this case and the evidence presented at trial, the Court of Appeal was right in setting aside the judgment and sentence of the trial court.
  2. Whether the refusal or failure of the appellant to tender the statement of the PW1 and the dagger was fatal to the case of the prosecution.
  3. Whether the prosecution established the ingredients in section 149(a)  of the Evidence Act to ground conviction under that provision.

Facts:

The respondent was alleged to be part of a gang that robbed the PW1 and stabbed him in the process. He was allegedly arrested near the scene of the crime and arraigned before the High Court of Lagos State for armed robbery contrary to section 402(2)(a) of the Criminal Code. The prosecution failed to tender in evidence, the items allegedly recovered from the scene of the crime nor the confessional statement made by the respondent. The trial court found him guilty and sentenced him to death by hanging. Not satisfied, the appellant filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal, where the appeal was allowed. Also not satisfied, the appellant filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, contending that the lower court erred by holding that the burden on the prosecution was not discharged.

In determining the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the following statutes:

Evidence Act, 2011, section 167(a)

The court may presume the existence of any fact which it deems likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, humans conduct and public and private business; in their relationship to the facts of the particular case and in particular, the court may presume that:

(a) Man who is in possession of stolen goods soon after the theft is either the thief or has received the goods knowing them to be stolen, unless he can account for his possession.