➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Afam Okeke v. The State (2016) – CA
by PipAr Chima
Court of Appeal – CA/E/371C/2012
➥ JUDGEMENT DELIVERED ON:
Thursday, January 21st 2016
➥ AREA(S) OF LAW
➥ NOTABLE DICTA
⦿ INGREDIENTS TO PROVE ARMED ROBBERY
There are three essential ingredients to be proved by the prosecution. They are set out below: a. That there was robbery; b. That the robber or robbers were armed with offensive weapons; c. That the accused person(s) was the robber or one of the robbers. – Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)
⦿ COURT BE CAREFUL IN ACCEPTING DELAYED EVIDENCE
Witnesses have the duty to tell the police as much as they know of a crime at the earliest opportunity in order to be seen as witnesses of truth and a Court of law must be careful in accepting delayed evidence when no satisfactory explanation is given. – Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)
⦿ EXTRA JUDICIAL STATEMENT IS INADMISSIBLE EXCEPT TO CONTRADICT
The extra judicial statement of a witness in a criminal trial is inadmissible as evidence for either side. The admissible evidence is the evidence on oath in open Court by the witness which is subject to cross examination by the adverse party. The only time when an extra judicial statement of a witness is admissible is where a party seeks to use it to contradict the evidence of a witness already given on oath … It is clear that the learned trial judge erroneously relied on the extra judicial statement of PW5 in Exh J to convict the Appellant. This is in clear violent disregard of S. 82 of the Evidence Act. – Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)
⦿ WHAT IS IDENTIFICATION PARADE?
An identification parade is the process by which an accused person is identified out of a number of people with identical features as the accused person, by a witness. – Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)
⦿ WHEN IDENTIFICATION PARADE IS SAID TO NOT BE PROPERLY CONDUCTED
Identification parade would not be properly conducted when the witness is asked leading questions like “Is this the person?” or when a police officer nods in the direction of the accused person … Where the identification parade is improper, the accused must be given the benefit of the doubt. – Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)
⦿ EVIDENCE OF A SINGLE WITNESS CAN CONVICT
A man may be convicted on the evidence of a single witness. However such evidence must be credible and cogent. – Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)
⦿ HE IS NOT ON TRIAL FOR THAT
The Appellant himself testified that he was a narcotics dealer, but he is not on trial for that. – Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)
➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, J.C.A.
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT
– John Oguejiofor Esq.
⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT
– P.N. Ofomo Esq.
➥ CASE HISTORY
This is an appeal against the judgment of the High Court of Anambra State delivered by Hon. Justice Peter J. Umeadi on 21/2/2012, wherein His Lordship convicted the Appellant for armed robbery and sentenced him to death by hanging or firing squad.
➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION
[APPEAL: ALLOWED & ACQUITTED]
I. Whether there was correct and admissible identification of the Appellant by the Complainant.
I.A. “None of the best practice parameters for judging a proper, credible and fair identification parade was utilised in this case. Counsel to the Respondent had contended that identification parade is not necessary where on the whole evidence the accused person was positively identified and where the identification is spontaneous and natural. The object of an identification parade is to make sure that a witness can positively and clearly identify the accused person. It is to make sure that no mistake is made in the identification of an accused person.”
I.B. “No attempt was made by the police to conduct an identification parade in which the Appellant and persons with similar physical characteristics would stand together and the witnesses would be called to positively identify the culprit from among them. That is the minimum standard required to satisfy the best practice in relation to identification parade. Nothing of the sort was done in this case. P.W.1 had actually seen the Appellant brought out in handcuffs before she identified him at the police station. It is my humble but firm view that the identification of the Appellant by PW1 and PW2 as one of the armed robbers who dispossessed PW1 and other victims of her car and other valuables was improper and should have created reasonable doubt in the mind of the trial judge. It is trite that where there is doubt in a criminal matter, the doubt should be resolved in favour of the accused.”
“With the greatest respect, I do not think that the trial Court gave due consideration to the totality of evidence before it. I am of the view that the evidence before the trial Court was not enough to ground a conviction for the offence of armed robbery. Even if we believe that P.W.5 saw a man riding on a motorcycle behind a jeep, there is no certainty that that man was the Appellant and that he subsequently committed armed robbery. There is also nothing that says that a person riding behind a stolen car is aware that that vehicle is about to be stolen. Suspicion no matter how strong cannot amount to evidence beyond reasonable doubt.”
➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS
➥ REFERENCED (STATUTE)
➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
⦿ IDENTIFICATION PARADE MEANS
Alabi v. State (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt.307) Pg. 511 at 527 per Onu, J.S.C as follows: “Identification parade means a group of persons of identical size and common physical features assembled by the police from whom a witness identifies a suspect or suspects unaided and untutored.”
⦿ WHEN IDENTIFICATION PARADE IS ESSENTIAL
In Aliyu v. State (2007) ALL FWLR Pt. 388 Pg. 1123 at Pg. 1147, this Court per Ariwoola JCA (as he then was) held as follows: “An identification parade is not sine qua non to a conviction for a crime alleged, it is essential in the following instances – a. where the victim did not know the accused before and his first acquaintance with him was during the commission of the offence; b. where the victim or witness was confronted by the offender for a very short time; c. where the victim due to time and circumstance might not have had full opportunity of observing the features of the accused.
⦿ THE DANGER OF IDENTIFICATION PARADE
R v. Turnbull (1976) 3 WLR 28, as follows: “Recognition may be more reliable than identification of a stranger; but when the witness is purporting to recognize someone whom he knows, the jury should be reminded that mistakes in recognition of close relatives and friends are sometimes made. All these matters go to the quality of the identification evidence. If the quality of the evidence is good and remains good at the close of the accused person’s case, the danger of mistaken identification is lessened but the poorer the quality, the greater the danger.”
➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)