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MICHAEL ORI v. THE STATE

(2020) LPELR-49554(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Tuesday, the 10th day of March, 2020

CA/OW/188C/2015


Before Their Lordships

AYOBODE OLUJIMI LOKULO-SODIPE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

ITA GEORGE MBABA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

IBRAHIM ALI ANDENYANGTSO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

MICHAEL ORI - Appellant(s)

AND

THE STATE - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on the Offence of Armed Robbery.

FACTS:
The appeal is against the judgment delivered on 20/6/2005, by the High Court of Justice, Owerri Judicial Division, presided over by Hon. Justice A.O.H. Ukachukwu.

???The Appellant was the 3rd accused person in Charge No. HOW/ART/21/99. In the said charge, the Appellant and 3 others were charged with the offence of armed robbery contrary to Section 1(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap. 398, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 1990. In the particulars of offence, the Appellant and the 3 other accused persons and other still at large; while armed with firearms were alleged to have robbed one John Nwokeocha and his passengers of one Mercedes Benz 911 Lorry with Registration No. AE 281 and money totaling N260,715.00, on 17/3/1998 at Mgbee along OrluUrualla-Akaokwa Road in Orlu Judicial Division. The charge was read over to the accused persons including the Appellant on 10/8/1999, and each of them pleaded not guilty thereto. The prosecution called 6 witnesses in the proof of its case against the Appellant and the other accused persons. The Appellant and each of the other accused persons, testified on their own behalf, and called no other witness. In its judgment, the trial Court noted that the 1st accused person in the charge before it, namely John Okorie confessed to the crime and that the other accused persons (Appellant inclusive) in their evidence denied the charge. Therein, after an extensive review of the evidence placed before it, and evaluation of the oral evidence adduced by the prosecution and the accused persons as well as the statements made to the Police by the Appellant and other accused persons respectively, the trial Court found the prosecution to have proved its case against the Appellant and 2 of the other accused persons beyond reasonable doubt. The Court did not find the prosecution to have done this, in respect of the 4th accused person. Hence, the trial Court convicted the Appellant and 2 of the other accused persons of the offence preferred against them; and duly sentenced each of the Appellant and 2 of the other accused persons to death as mandated by the law under which they were charged. The 4th accused person in the charge having been found not guilty, was acquitted and discharged.

Being dissatisfied with the decision of the trial Court, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The Appellant distilled for the determination of the appeal, the following issues: -
(1) Whether the trial Judge was right in relying on Exhibits "E", and "J" in convicting the appellant despite the exculpatory evidence given in favour of the appellant by the 1st accused person, John Okore.
(2) Whether the appellant was a party to the offence and whether the defence of alibi does not avail him.
(3) Whether the extra-judicial statements of the appellant i.e. Exhibits "G", "L", "M" and "N" qualify as confessional statements and whether the trial Court was right in relying on same to convict the appellant.

The issues which the Respondent formulated for the determination of the appeal, in its brief of argument are: -
i. Whether the prosecution by admissible evidence proved the offence of armed robbery against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt?
ii. Whether the defence of alibi as raised by the Appellant during his address in Court can be available in law for the benefit of the Appellant?

The Court determined the appeal based on the issues for determination distilled by the parties.

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court of Appeal held that the appeal failed and it was dismissed. Accordingly, the judgment delivered by the trial Court, convicting the Appellant of the offence of armed robbery and sentencing him to death was affirmed.


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