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(2018) LPELR-44983(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 6th day of July, 2018


Before Their Lordships

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

JOHN INYANG OKORO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

EJEMBI EKO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


SGT. KALEJAIYE OLA - Appellant(s)


THE STATE - Respondent(s)

Other Citations

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This appeal borders on the offence of Murder.
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal Benin Division wherein the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the Edo State High Court which convicted the appellant for the charge of murder and sentenced him to death under Section 319 of the Criminal Code cap 48 Vol. 11 Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria, 1976, now applicable to Edo State of Nigeria. 

The appellant, who was a police sergeant, was arraigned, tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging until he be dead, at the Edo State High Court of Justice, Benin City on 23rd May, 2011. This was in consequence of the murder of one Paul Erimafo on 23rd of June, 2003. The appellant was posted on night guard duty at the Edo State Government Chalets located along the Central Road, G.R.A., Benin City on 22nd June, 2003. He was issued with AK 47 Rifle and ten rounds of life ammunition. In the early hours of 23rd June, 2003 at about 3.a.m., the appellant accosted the said Pau lErimafo and arrested him for straying into the premises of the Government Chalets where the former was on guard duty. He led his captive to the residence of one Dr. Erhabor who assisted him in carrying the suspect in a Peugeot 505 car to the Government House Benin City. On reaching there, Police Officers on duty directed the appellant to carry the suspect to the nearest police Station. On the way to the nearest police Station, along the Central Road, G.R.A, Benin City, by the official residence of the Edo State Chief Judge, a scuffle ensued between the appellant and the aforesaid Paul Erimafo. Dr. Erhabor then parked his car and got out of it. The scuffle between the appellant and the suspect - Paul Erimafo, attracted the mobile Policemen and other security staff at the aforesaid Chief Judge's residence. The mobile Policemen rushed to the scene and intervened. Both the appellant and the suspect - Paul Erimafo then introduced themselves. They each narrated their stories to the mobile policemen. 

???The appellant alleged that the suspect was struggling with him in order to retrieve his riffle from him. The suspect, raising up his hands, denied the allegation. The appellant then fired two shots from his riffle, at the left leg of the suspect who fell down and groaning in pains. The appellant rushed to report a case of armed robbery against the suspect, at the Edo State Police C.I.D. Headquarters, Benin City. Later, the appellant came along with some police officers to pick the suspect. On the way to the Aideyan Police Station, the suspect became deceased and the appellant became an accused person.  The prosecution, in order to prove the charge of murder against the appellant, called four witnesses whilst the appellant testified for himself and called one witness who gave evidence for him.  The prosecution's star witness was one Peter Osadolor, who was civilian security guard who kept vigil at the Chief Judge's official residence on the fateful night. He testified as prosecution witness No.2 (PW2). 

At the end of the trial, the learned trial judge, in his judgment believed the PW2 and not the appellant, whom he convicted and sentenced to death by hanging until he be dead. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, his conviction and sentence were affirmed and his appeal dismissed. Further dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Court determined the appeal on this sole issue couched as follows:
"Whether the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the decision of the trial Court holding that the prosecution did prove the offence of murder against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt." 

On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.

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