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(2017) LPELR-42657(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 14th day of July, 2017


Before Their Lordships

AHMAD OLAREWAJU BELGORE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

FATIMA OMORO AKINBAMI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

PAUL OBI ELECHI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


MURI OLORE - Appellant(s)



Other Citations

; ;


This appeal borders on Criminal Law and Procedure.

By an Amended Charge Sheet filed on the 24th day of June, 2013, the Appellant herein was arraigned before the Federal High Court sitting at Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.

The plea of the Appellant was taken and he pleaded not guilty to the two counts. The trial Court then proceeded to trial.

PW1, the complainant, was one Tosin Olofinkuade, a Higher Executive Officer, Accounts of the Ekiti State Service Commission. She testified that a neighbour, named Shola told her that she know somebody who could pray for her to get a husband. Shola gave the telephone number of that person to her and she called. After explaining her problem to the man, the man said she should give him 30 minutes to enable him call back. When the man called back, he explained that the problem was a serious one. He demanded that before anything, she should go and deposit a sum of N11,000.00 into his WEMA Bank account which she did. When the man (Appellant) called again, he informed her that the matter was beyond his power and he promised to go to Ilorin to meet another man. When the Appellant got to the man, he called and the man spoke to her and demanded N37,000.00 which was paid into the Appellant's account. She was at Ife when the Appellant told her that they would need more money which she deposited into the Appellant's account at Ile-Ife Branch of WEMA Bank. It was N37,000.00.

The PW1 said she was later invited to Lokoja to meet the man who was praying for her. She went and met the Appellant at Kabba Junction and he took her to the man being referred to as Baba. On getting to Baba's Compound, she was shocked when she discovered that it was not a prayer place as there were shrines in the Compound. When she saw the Baba, the man covered his face with a mask. The man told her to go and bring N120,000.00; N30,000.00 and another N8,000.00. She was also asked to buy kolanuts, a 10 yard white lace which she bought for N30,000.00 and Kolanuts at N3,000.00 at three different places making a total of N9,000.00. The Appellant collected N5,000.0 with which he bought Sinapp gin. After submitting all these, the man still demanded for money and she became angry. The PW1 said she was asked to pay to some Osun people N65,000.00 and another N35,000.00. Appellant asked her not to pay the money into his WEMA Bank account number but he texted an Intercontinental Bank account number of one Tosin Ajayi (now Access Bank) with instruction to pay N65,000.00 and N35,000.00 into that account. She complied and the money was meant for those Osun people. She was told to go to Osun Osogbo and meet those who would call her. When she got to Osun River in Osogbo, those people demanded for N5,000.00 to buy sinapp gin but she gave them N3,000.00. As soon as she paid, they asked her to kneel down and pray for herself. Immediately after praying, they asked her to return home.

PW1 further told the trial Court that the Baba asked her to bring N4,000,000.00 (Four Million Naira) stating that the money would only spend two days in his room and it would be returned to her. She approached the Co-operative Society which gave her N500,000.00. A proprietress of Christ Victory Nursery and Primary School at Igede gave her One Million Naira and through her sister and friend she was able to raise another N500,000.00 making a total of Two Million Naira. The Appellant came and collected the money dressing in a trouser, a shirt and an ancient native dress agbada with card on his neck, using white cloth to cover his head like ALHAJA woman. She was told by Osun people that she had to join them to worship the Osun River, but she declined. The Baba asked her if she would agree that a casket be kept in her room for seven days. She did not agree. Baba further told her that the Two Million Naira was already inside the casket and if she accepted that the casket is kept in her room after which she would take out the money from inside the casket. She refused to accept. She called the Appellant who told her that she should look for the remaining two Million Naira. She got N500,000.00 from another man and her brother in Lagos paid into her account, the sum of N1.4 Million. By this time, the 40 days ultimatum given to her remained three days to expire. A sister in a Ministry gave her N100,000.00 making a total of two Million Naira. She called the Appellant telling him that the money was complete. The Appellant came to her house around 9:30pm that same day and collected the money. He had Ghana must go bag which he gave to her, telling her not to open it until he went away and called her. The Appellant never called and when she called him, he told her to stop disturbing him since she had disrespected the Baba. When she requested for her money, he told her to open the bag he had given to her.

When she opened the bag she saw a casket coffin inside with white cloth, palm tree front with chicken feathers, and she started crying.

Four days later, the person who gave her N500,000.00 threatened to arrest her with Police. One of her brothers advised her to report the case to the Police which she did at Police C.I.D. at the Police Headquarters. She made a statement to the Police. She was at the Police Headquarters when she heard noise that Police had brought some fraudsters and she was advised to go and see if she would see the person that duped her among those that were brought. On getting there, she was able to identify the Appellant and shouted his name. The Appellant kneeled down and started begging her. She went home and brought the Ghana must go bag the Appellant had given to her.
The Appellant testified in his own defence as DW1. He told the Court how he was contacted by PW1 and how he asked the PW1 to lodge N8,000.00 into his account at WEMA Bank and how the PW1 deposited a sum of N11,000.00 into the account. After a month, PW1 called and told him that she was dreaming badly, seeing a man having sexual intercourse with her. After making some findings on that, he informed her that the person she was seeing in her dream was her spiritual husband. He asked her to fast for three days and after that he informed her that he could not do anything about this new problem and that she should give him time to go and consult a more learned man in that field. He later told her that they should go to Lokoja to meet a man and he took her there. They brought the things the man at Lokoja requested for and the Baba did what was necessary for her. Thereafter, the Appellant and PW1 used to speak on phone. When PW1 meet her husband and called the Appellant, he wished her well.

The Appellant denied the charge that he had defrauded PW1 because he never knew her before she called him on phone. He stated that all she needed from him, he did it for her.

He said he had nothing to say on the N5,000,000.00 she alleged him to have defrauded her of, because he never received N5,000,000.00 from her. He said he did not carry any coffin to her house and he did not know who gave her his phone number. PW1 called him on his phone and told him that the prayer had been answered and she had gotten a husband. She also called Baba at Lokoja and reportedly greeted him. She went and thanked Baba at Lokoja.

Under Cross-examination, the Appellant admitted knowing Kassim Usman but he did not lead the Police to arrest him. He did not know Kassim Usman's wife, Tosin Ajayi. He acknowledged being present when Police went to Baba Amana at Lokoja to arrest him, but he was not arrested by the Police because he was not at home, he ran away upon seeing the Police.

???Both the prosecution and defence filed written addresses and the learned counsel for the Appellant filed a Reply on point of Law.
The learned trial Judge then Sentenced the Appellant to Seven (7) years term of imprisonment without option of fine on each of the two counts. It was also ordered that the prison terms should run consecutively with hard labour.

In addition, an Order of restitution was made under Section 11 of the Act by ordering the Appellant to pay to the victim the amount of money he fraudulently obtained from her, Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) forthwith.

It is against this judgment that the Appellant has appealed to  the Court of Appeal.

Appellant formulated two issues viz:
1. Whether the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against the Appellant in view of the evidence before the Court.
2. In the entire circumstances of this case, can the Appellant be said to have been given fair hearing by the lower Court.

Respondent distilled the following issues:
1. Whether the prosecution proved the ingredients of the offence charged.
2. Whether or not the trial Judge properly evaluated the evidence adduced before him at the trial.

The appeal was allowed. The decision of the Federal High Court, sitting at Ado-Ekiti, which convicted the Appellant, MURI OLORE, and sentenced him to prison without option of fine was set aside. In its place a verdict of not guilty was returned. The Appellant was accordingly acquitted and discharged.

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