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(2018) LPELR-44362(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 4th day of May, 2018


Before Their Lordships

IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

KUMAI BAYANG AKA'AHS Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

PAUL ADAMU GALINJE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria




THE STATE - Respondent(s)

Other Citations

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This appeal borders on the Offence of Murder.
The Appellant and two others were convicted by the High Court of Ondo State and sentenced to death for the murder of "Maria Joseph Erhiyore" (deceased). Her body was found in a pit latrine behind the house of one Francis Omosaye, three days after she left Okitipupa for Ode-Erinje on 2/6/1995, to buy palm oil.

Following his arrest, the said Francis Omosaye roped in the Appellant and the others, and they were subsequently arrested and arraigned with him. But the said Francis Omosaye, who was arraigned as the second Accused, pleaded guilty to the Charge, and was convicted and sentenced accordingly.

The Appellant, who was the first Accused, pleaded not guilty. At the trial, Prosecution called four Witnesses, including Inspector Omojeje John as PW3, through whom the Prosecution sought to tender the Appellant's Statement to the Police in evidence but he objected thereto on the ground of involuntariness.

The trial Court then conducted a trial-within-trial wherein the said PW3 testified as PW1, and the Superior Police Officer, who endorsed the Statement, testified as PW2. The Appellant also stated his case at the said trial-within-trial. The trial Court believed the two Police Officers, and the statement was admitted. In the said statement, the Appellant confessed that he lured the deceased to the said Francis Omosaye's house on the pretext that he had some palm oil for sale. He sent Francis to call the others, and when they came, he and two others took turns in raping her until she died. 

???But in his defence as DW1, the Appellant retracted the said confession, and denied the allegation that he participated in the murder of the deceased. He put up an alibi that he was at the farm with his brother at the material time. In its Judgment delivered on 29/9/2006, the trial Court rejected his defence and found Appellant guilty as charged, and convicted and sentenced him to death. 

The Court of Appeal, to which he appealed, upheld the findings of the trial Court and dismissed his Appeal. He has now further appealed to the Supreme Court.

The appeal was determined on the following issues:

1. Whether the Court below did not misdirect itself in affirming the decision of the trial Court by finding that the Appellant voluntarily made Exhibits C - C2 and that the same were rightly admitted after trial - within- trial.
2. Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal rightly relied on Exhibits C1 - C2 (which they referred to as Exhibit C-C1) in affirming the decision of the trial Court.
3. Whether the Court below was right in affirming the trial Court's Judgment in view of the Appellant's uninvestigated alibi.
4. Whether the Prosecution proved its case against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt.

The appeal was dismissed. The decision of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the Judgment of the trial Court, including the conviction and sentence to death by hanging imposed on the Appellant was affirmed.

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