LAMIDI LADIPO & ANOTHER (APPELLANTS)
THE INPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE (RESPONDENT)
(1964) All N.L.R. 471
Division: High Court, Lagos
Date of Judgment: 23rd March, 1964
Case Number: Appeal No. LD/SCA/64
Before: De Lestang, C.J. of Lagos
Appeal from the Magistrates' Court:
The appellants were convicted in the magistrate's court on a charge containing two counts viz: conspiracy and false pretences respectively; evidence shows that the first appellant, acting in concert with the second appellant, procured, for a consideration, a duplicate driving licence for one Salami who was not entitled thereto; whilst it was clear that Salami never had an original driving licence, there was no direct evidence of false pretences alleged in the counts; the magistrate, however, held that the false pretences can be inferred from the conduct of the accused persons and the general circumstances of the case. The question is whether the magistrate can convict on mere inference in the absence of direct evidence to prove the false pretences alleged in the charge.
(1) Evidence which reasonably supports the inference that an offence has been committed can be used to support a conviction where no direct evidence is available.
(2) Since the duplicate licence was issued in replacement of an original licence in the normal way, it follows that the issuing authority must have been informed that there was an original licence which no longer existed. That being so, the appeal ought to be dismissed.
Law referred to:-
Criminal Code, Cap. 42, sections 425, 517.
Fasida, for the first Appellant.
Shodipo, for the second Appellant.
Arthur-Worrey, State Counsel, for the Respondent.
De Lestang, C.J. of Lagos:-The appellants were jointly tried in the Chief Magistrate's Court, Lagos, on a charge containing the following two counts:-
That you Lamidi Ladipo and Sunday Adeoti, during the month of March, 1960, at Lagos, conspired with persons unknown to procure for Mutairu Salami, a duplicate driving Licence No. 97542 dated 18th March, 1960, by falsely pretending that the said Mutairu Salami had an original licence No. 91070 which had become lost, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 517 of the Criminal Code.
That you Lamidi Ladipo and Sunday Adeoti, during the month of March, 1960, at Lagos, wilfully procured for Mutairu Salami, a duplicate driving licence No. 97542, dated 18th March, 1960, by falsely pretending that the said Mutairu Salami had an Original Driving Licence No. 91070 and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 425 of the Criminal Code.
Both appellants were convicted on both Counts.
There is clear evidence that the 1st appellant, acting in concert with the 2nd appellant, procured for a consideration a driving licence for one Mutairu Salami who was not entitled thereto. The only question in this appeal is whether the procurement was by means of the false pretence alleged in the Counts; namely, that Mutairu Salami had an original driving licence No. 91070. While it was clearly established that Mutairu Salami never had such a licence, there was no direct evidence of the alleged false pretence and in dealing with this aspect of the case the learned Chief Magistrate said:-
"The false pretences alleged were not made expressly by words but can be inferred from the conduct of the accused persons and the general circumstances of the case."
In my view, there is evidence which reasonably supports the inference which the learned Chief Magistrate drew. The licence, exhibit "A", appears to have been issued by the proper licensing authority in the normal way. It bears, however, an endorsement in the form of a reference to a register of driving licences; exhibit "C", kept in the Central Motor Registry. This reference shows that the licence was issued because Mutairu Salami was the holder of a licence which had been issued in Kano. In point of fact, Mutairu Salami had never had a driving licence and his photograph on exhibit "C" was one of three photographs he had previously given to the 1st appellant when the latter had undertaken to obtain a licence for him. The evidence establishes that a driving licence is not replaced unless the issuing authority is satisfied that it has been lost or defaced. Since exhibit "A" was issued in replacement of an original licence in the normal way, it follows that the issuing authority must have been informed that there was an original licence which no longer existed. That being so, this appeal fails and is dismissed.