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Pius v. State

ISRAEL PIUS

V

THE STATE

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

MOHAMMED S. MUNTAKA-COOMASSIE  JSC ( Presided )

BODE RHODES-VIVOUR JSC

NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA JSC

KUMAI BAYANG AKA’AHS JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE JSC

SC. 299/2012

FRIDAY, 6 MARCH 2015

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Robbery and armed robbery Distinction between

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Tainted witness - Who constitutes  Evidence of - Admissibility of - Proper approach of court to When requires corroboration

EVIDENCE - Fact in issue - Evidence elicited on during crossexamination - Authenticity and validity of

EVIDENCE - Tainted witness - Who constitutes - Evidence of Admissibility of - Proper approach of court to - When requires corroboration

EVIDENCE - Unchallenged evidence - Duty on court to rely and act on

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Fact in issue - Evidence elicited on during cross-examination - Authenticity and validity of

WORDS AND PHRASES - Robbery and armed robbery - Distinction between

Issues:

  1. Whether after expunging the evidence of the use of arm or force from record, the remaining evidence of the prosecution could support the appellant’s conviction for robbery.
  2. Whether the PW3 and PW4 were tainted witnesses, whose evidence required corroboration or caution, and if the answer is in the affirmative, whether the reliance on their evidence by the trial court and the Court of Appeal without corroborative evidence or caution was in grave error.

Facts:

The appellant allegedly entered into Ogidi Health Centre, Atan, in Ijebu North East Local Government Area of Ogun State, under the pretext of looking for an accident victim. He then pulled a gun on the PW1 and PW2, robbed them of their phones and raped the PW1, threatening to shoot them if they failed to cooperate with him. Upon being arrested, the appellant was identified by the PW1 and PW2 and the police also recovered the phones stolen  by him from him. He was thereafter arraigned in the High Court of Ogun State for armed robbery. The trial court found him guilty and sentenced him to death. Aggrieved, the appellant filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal, where the appeal was allowed in part, with the lower court subsisting the charge with robbery without fire arms and commutting the death sentence with 21 years imprisonment. Dissatisfied, the appellant filed a further appeal to the Supreme Court, contending that the affirmation of his conviction was wrong when it was based on evidence of tainted witness and insufficient evidence by the prosecution.