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(2017) LPELR-42466(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 2nd day of June, 2017


Before Their Lordships

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMIRU SANUSI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

PAUL ADAMU GALINJE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria




THE STATE - Respondent(s)

Other Citations

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This appeal borders on the offences of conspiracy to commit murder and murder.
This appeal is against the judgment of Court of Appeal, Ibadan division delivered on the 24th of April, 2008 which partially affirmed the judgment of the High Court of Ogun State (the trial Court) delivered on 7th March, 2005.

The appellant herein and his co-accused Shina Oketaologun were arraigned before the trial Court sitting at Ijebu-Ode (coram Ibikunle Adesalu J) on a two count charge of conspiracy to commit murder and murder contrary to Section 324 and Section 316(2) respectively punishable under Section 319(1) of the Criminal Code Law Cap 29 Laws of Ogun State of Nigeria. Both of them were accused of killing one Chief Engineer Samuel Fatuga.

The case of the prosecution was that the appellant was an employee of the deceased as the latter's bus driver. He in company of the co-accused Shina Oketaologun together formed common agreement, left Ibadan for the deceased residence in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State. On arriving at the compound of the deceased, PW1 said he saw them and was surprised to see the appellant who had earlier been accused of stealing the deceased person's bus. Being apprehensive of what might have brought appellant to the deceased person's compound, the PW1 stated that he went and informed the members of the Vigilante Group the town on the need to arrest the appellant and the co-accused. On returning to the compound along with the members of vigilante group, the PW1 testified that they found the deceased in pool of his own blood. He stated that on sighting him and the vigilante group members, the appellant and his co-accused ran into the rooms and then ran out of the compound through the back door in a bid to escape but they were apprehended by the members of the vigilante group who surrounded the compound of the deceased. Recovered at the scene, were a yellow marine rope used in tying the deceased to the railings of the staircase and a knife used in stabbing the deceased on his chest and abdomen.

During the trial, the prosecution in an effort to prove the charges against the appellant and the co-accused, called five witnesses.

The appellant on the other hand testified on his own behalf denying the charges framed against him. He testified that he merely went to the deceased's house on appointment given to him by the deceased to go there and collect his outstanding wages. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial Court found the appellant and the co-accused guilty and convicted them of both counts of conspiracy to commit murder and of murder and sentenced each of them to five years imprisonment for the first count of conspiracy to commit murder and to death by hanging for the second count of murder.

Dissatisfied with the decision of the trial Court, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal, Ibadan division. On hearing his appeal, the Court below substituted the appellant's conviction of murder with that of attempted murder and committed the death sentence to that of life imprisonment. However, still dissatisfied with the Lower Court's decision, the appellant further appealed to the Supreme Court.

Respondent proposed a lone issue for the determination of the appeal which the Court adopted viz:

"Whether the Court below (Court of Appeal) was right in convicting the appellant of attempted murder and sentencing him to life imprisonment considering the evidence."

On the whole the appeal was dismissed. The conviction and the substituted sentence of the appellant to life imprisonment made by the Lower Court was affirmed.

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