In the Supreme Court
Holden at Abuja
Friday,12 May 2017
Suit Number; SC.592/2014
OLAREWAJU AKOGWU ..................................... Appellant
THE STATE ....................................... Respondent
(Delivered By Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, JSC)
The appellant was arraigned together with other persons before the High Court, Otukpo, Benue State presided over by A. O. Onum J. and he was convicted of the offences of Conspiracy and Armed Robbery and sentenced to death. He was dissatisfied with the verdict and appealed to the Court of Appeal which affirmed the decision of the trial court hence
the appeal to the Supreme Court.
FACTS BREIFLY STATED
These facts are culled from page 57 of the record of appeal and thus:
Each of the accused persons denied the charges whereupon the prosecution called a total of four witnesses and tendered four exhibits. Exhibit "A" marks all three extra-judicial statements made to the police by the 1st accused person and recorded on 18/10/2001, 20/10/2001 and 25/10/2001. Exhibit "B" similarly marks the two separate extra-judicial statements of the 2nd accused person recorded on 19/10/2001 and 20/10/2001. Exhibits" is the extra-judicial statements of the 3rd accused person separately made to the police and recorded on 19/10/2001, 20/10/2001 and 25/10/2001. Exhibit *G" is a piece of aluminum formation in the semblance of a hand gun said to have been recovered from a spot at which one of the accused persons was said to have directed the police in the course of investigations. All the exhibits were tendered in evidence without any objections.
The PWs 1, 2 and 3 were the victims of the various crimes charged. The PWS 1 and 2 told of how the robberies were committed against them in the Otia Area of Otukpo town, but were emphatic that they could not recognise any of those who came to rob them, even at the identification parade which the police eventually conducted. According to their evidence, the robbers made this identification impossible by flashing and holding torch lights directly against the faces of their victims. In his own evidence, the PW3 said that he identified the accused persons but it became obvious from his answers to questions under cross-examination that one must be circumspect in accepting his evidence in regard to the identification of any of the accused persons as true. For instance, he had seen the 1st accused person at the police station before the incidence.
After he was shot, he was still conscious when being taken to the hospital. He never mentioned at the spur of the moment that it was the same person he had once seen at the police station who came to rob him.
The charge on which the appellant and others were charged is captured hereunder, viz:
That you OLAREWAJU AKOGWU, Male, Mathias Garuba Idoko, Male, Emmanuel Ogboji, Male, Ali Idankpo, Male, on or about the 18th day of October, 2001 at Achigili Street, Otukpo in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Hon. Court agreed to do an act, to wit, you robbed one Salisu Mohammed of the sum of N10,000.00 at gun point and the same act was done in pursuance of the agreement and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 5(a)(b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap. 298 Laws of the
Federation of Nigeria, 1999.
That you OLAREWAJU AKOGWU, Male, Mathias Garuba Idoko, Male, Emmanuel Ogboji, Male, Abdulrahaman Jubrin, Male, Igoche Ojobo Male, Ali Idankpo on or about the 18th day of October, 2001 at Achigili Street, Otukpo in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Hon. Court did commit armed robbery punishable with death to wit, you robbed one Salisu Mohammed at gun point of the sum of N10,000.00 and you thereby committed and offence punishable under section l(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions ) Act Cap. 398 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999.
That you OLAREWAJU AKOGWU, Male, Mathias Garuba Idoko, Male, Emmanuel Ogboji, Male, Abdulrahaman Jubrin, Male, Igoche Ojobo Male, Ali Idankpo, Male, on or about the 18th day of October, 2001 at Achigili Street, Otukpo in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Hon. Court in the cause of robbing one Salisu Mohammed at a gun point shot and wounded him and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section l(2)(b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap. 398 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999.
That you OLAREWAJU AKOGWU, Male, Mathias Garuba Idoko, Male, Emmanuel Ogboji, Male, Abdulrahaman Jubrin, Male, Ali Idankpo, Male, on or about the 9 day of September, 2001 at Otia MF" Otukpo in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State within the jurisdiction this Hon. Court did commit armed robbery punishable with death, to wit, you robbed one Adekola Ogale at gun point of the sum of N3,500.00 and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section l(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions ) Act Cap. 398 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999.
That you OLAREWAJU AKOGWU, Male, Mathias Garuba Idoko, Male, Emmanuel Ogboji, Male, Abdulrahaman Jubrin, Male, Ali Idankpo, Male, on or about the 9th day of October, 2001 at Otia "F" 7B Otukpo in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Hon. Court did commit armed robbery punishable with death to wit, you robbed one Stephen Ichakpa at gun point of the sum of N16,000.00 and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section l(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap. 398 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999.
On the 2 March, 2017 date of hearing, Oba Maduabuchi Esq. of counsel for the appellant adopted his brief of argument filed on 17/12/14 and in it distilled two issues for determination of the appeal as follows:
1. Whether it was proper to convict the appellant of the offence of conspiracy when he was never charged with the offence and none was proved against him. Ground 2.
2. Whether the prosecution proved the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt as required by law. Grounds 3, 4 and 5.
Learned counsel for the respondent and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Benue State, Sir M. 0. Atubu adopted the brief of the respondent filed on the 13/6/2016 and deemed filed on 2/3/2017. He identified 5 issues for determination of the appeal which are, viz:
1. Whether the prosecution has power to prosecute the appellant? Ground 1.
2. Whether the appellant can be convicted of the offence of conspiracy if the facts before the trial court proved the offence of conspiracy against him. Ground 2.
3. Whether the appellant can be convicted based on his confessional statements to the police? Ground 3.
4. Whether the confessional statements of the appellant amounted to admission of the commission of the offence? Ground 4.
5. Whether the prosecution proved her case against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt? Ground 5.
For ease of reference and convenience I shall make use of the issues as crafted by the appellant.
ISSUE NO 1
Whether it was proper to convict the appellant of the offence of conspiracy when he was never charged with the offence.
Mr. Maduabuchi of counsel for the appellant submitted that it was wrong of the court to have convicted the appellant of the offence of conspiracy when he was not charged with the offence. That the happening was in breach of appellants right as contained in section 36(6)(a) (b) (c) and (d) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That the appellant had not been provided with the knowledge of the offence he was facing and prepare to defend himself in respect thereof. He cited Ebe Uka v Okorie Irolo (2002) 7 SCNJ 137 at 157; Idakwo v Eiiqa (2002) 7 5CNJ 211 at 218.
That count one under which the appellant was charged was not covered by section 5 (a) (b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap 298 CFRN. He further stated that there is no agreement to do an illegal act or to do a legal act by illegal means and so the offence of conspiracy was not constituted. He called in aid the case of Kaza v The State (2008) 2 SCNJ 373 at 406.
For the appellant it was also submitted that the appellant accused of conspiracy was not told what he conspired to do cannot be convicted of the offence of conspiracy as in the case at hand the charge did not disclose what the appellant conspired to do. Counsel referred to Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal v Dr. John Emewulu Nicholas Okonkwo (2001) 3 SCNJ 186 at 215; Orunwo v Woko (2011) 6 SCNJ 124 at 138 - 139.
Learned counsel submitted that appellant did not confess to agreeing with anyone to rob somebody and there was no agreement. That the robbery purportedly carried out occurred on 20/10/2001 and there was no charge of such a robbery and so a doubt arose which should be resolved in favour of the appellant.
` Sir Mathew Atubu, DDPP of counsel for the respondent contended that appellant made three statements to the police and in each stated that he conspired with others to rob their victims. That appellant was not formally charged with the offence of conspiracy when some counts of charge were struck out and counts 4 and 5 of the charge were saved and though those counts did not contain the offence of conspiracy however the trial court finding the ingredients of conspiracy made out had him convicted on that, a situation covered by sections 216 and 217 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Cap 30 Laws of Northern Nigeria 1965.
That there was no breach of section 36 (6) (a) of CFRN 1999 as the accused/appellant pleading for the main offence of armed robbery, a finding for the lesser offence was fully protected therein. He cited Usuman v State (2006) Vol. 7 QCCR 163 at 167; Isiyakin Mohammed v Kano N.A. (1968) 1 ALL NLR 424.
Learned counsel stated that the elements of conspiracy were inferred from the circumstances shown in the evidence. He relied on Osuaqwu v State (2013) ALL FWLR 1603 at 1613.
The Court of Appeal or court below Danjuma JCA held thus:
"That offence is complete upon the meeting of the minds of the persons alleged to have conspired or of any one or two of them. It is not necessary that any one thing should be done beyond the agreement. See R.V Aspinall (1976) 2 QBD 48 at 58 - 59.
The proof of the offence of conspiracy is generally a matter of inference. The involvement of the appellant can be inferred from the circumstances of the cases even if he had not made Exhibit "A" voluntarily. PW1 and PW2 would have confirmed that his fore knowledge and consent to all the acts done was pursuant to his consent.
Even if it was not for the specific offence convicted. The findings, as made by the trial court and the invocation of the penalty for the offence of armed robbery as being the same for conspiracy is in order. The up tenth (sic) submission of the appellant's counsel on the absence of charge and the lack of plea taken are to no avail as the plea on the offence charged availed the prosecution."
The extra-judicial statement of the appellant which is clearly confessional in nature is hereunder restated thus:
"Sometime in the month of September, 2001 we formed a robbery gang, we are six in number, the members are: John Useni - Leader, Lawrence Adikwu, Daniel, Mathias, Ogebe and myself. We went for a robbery operation at Otia in Igbano-Maje Otukpo, John led us that night. I do not remember the date. After the operation we got N63,000.00 which was shared as follows: John Useni, the leader N20,000.00, Olarewaju Akogwu Nl0,000.00, Lawrence Achikwu N10,000.00, Daniel N10,000.00 and Ogebe N8,000.00. The gun which we used is still with John Useni because he is the leader, only carry knife during operation. The day we went to Igbanomaje, John fired a shot of gun in the air. The. operation at Sabon Garri was done by Polytechnic boys. The knife that I used was brought by Lawrence. I only did the operation at Otia Ogbanomaje, I cannot tell lie of what I did not do. I did not go to the operation at Obaganya and Ojira. I have only attended only one operation. I joined robbery gang because I want to pay my school fees, because nobody is taking care of me. That is all.
He thereafter made two other statements which I shall quote hereunder as follows:
"That my name is Olarewaju Akogwu, I am staying in Otukpo here schooling at Government Day Secondary School. In the month of September, 2001 one John Useni came and called me Sunday and gave me a bottle of beer, when I took the beer I became drunk and slept in John's house later, I knew myself, I saw some group of boys in John's house. I could not know the time, it was in the night. Among the boys that came to John's house that night, I know one Ogebe father's name not known, Lawrence Achikwu, Emmanuel Father's name not known, Adakole Father's name not known, Abdulraman Jibrin, Godwin Father's name not known, Ogebe told me that they want to go to Living Faith, I now asked them at here are they going to the Living Faith, Emmanuel then told me that is a robbery operation and not church, I told them that I will not go with them and they started beating me. I now agreed to go with them because I don't want them to kill me, we went to Otia area in Igbanomaje and robbed a house occupied by one family. The gun which we used for the operation was brought by John Useni who is the leader of the robbery group. I used cutlass on that day and Abdulman Jibrin carried cutlass, all the people I mentioned above went for the robbery operation in Igbnomaje. The money was shared as follows: John Useni, the leader N20,000.00, Olarawaju Akogwu N10,000.00, Ogebe N8,000.00, Abdulraman N10,000.00, Lawrence Adikwu N10,000.00, Adakole N3,000.00 and Godwin N2,000.00, Mathias Garuba is a member of the robbery gang. He did not go with us for the Igbanomaje operation, Mathias went with us on a n operation which we did a Ameh Street and the sum of N40,000.00 was recovered in the Emmanuel know all, the members of this robbery gang are eight in number, John brought the locally made pistol which Emmanuel brought the other object that look like gun, Ali is not my friend, we played football together in primary. The armed robbery gang was formed earlier than the time I joined them in September, 2001. Emmanuel and Lawrence told me that they have done about 4 robbery operation before I joined them, Abdulraman have been an old member of the robbery gang; before we go out for a robbery operation, we used to meet ourselves in front of John's house, and by 1 a.m o'clock we take off for operation, we always move in ground, our own gang is formed only to operate within zone H/B and Igbanomaje. The juju which the members worship is a cult juju. That is all.
This third statement of the appellant was made on the 25/10/2001.
"That I am Olarewaju Akogwu, I am a member of an armed robber gang by one John Useni. On 20/102001, at about 2200 hours, the following people who are members of the armed robbery gang gathered at John's house for an operation. They are John Useni, Lawrence Achikwu, Olarawaju Akogwu, Emmanuel Ogboji, Mathias Garuba, Abdulraman Jibrin, Igoche Ojobor and one Ogebe father's name not known. Then at about 1 a.m o'clock. We took off for a robbery operation, we took off from John's house at zone H/B, through to Igbanomaje we finally went to No. 2 Otia T" where we robbed the whole family in the flat and a total sum of N63.000.00 was robbed from the people. It was John Useni who brought the information that, there is money at 15 Otia "G" Otukpl. We went with one gun owned by John and he is the owner, John Useni got N20,000.00, Olarawaju Akogwu N10,000.00, Lawrence Achikwu N10,000.00, Ogebe N8,000.00, Adakole N3,000.00, and Godwin N2,000.00 because they used to keep our gun for us. The day of the operation, I used cutlass though I did not use it on any person. Abdulram also went with cutlass on the day. The whole people I mentioned in my statement are the people that took part in the operation. That is all I have to say.
In the two latter extra-judicial statements, the appellant confirmed participating in the robbery offence but that he was coerced into doing so, that is, that he unwillingly was sucked in.
It is not in dispute that the appellant was not charged with conspiracy rather, the counts involving him and the other accused persons had to do with armed robbery. The trial judge convicted him for conspiracy to commit armed robbery and the court below erroneously upheld it.
Learned counsel for the appellant disagreeing with what the two courts below had done rested his objection on a breach of fair hearing as prescribed under section 36(6) (a) (b) and (d) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) (as amended). He cited numerous judicial authorities in support of his stance.
That stand of the appellant is against the run of play in criminal proceedings involving armed robbery though convicted for the offences of conspiracy to commit armed robbery contrary to sections 5(b) and 1(2) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap. 398 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990. Indeed, the appellant was not charged formally with offence of conspiracy however it needs be said that the ingredients of the offence of conspiracy under which the appellant was convicted are similar to the main offence of armed robbery under which he was charged and tried with subsequent conviction of conspiracy.
A community reading of sections 216 and 217 of the Criminal Procedure Code Cap 30 Laws of Northern Nigeria 1965 would set the picture clearly and it is as follows:
"216 If a single act or series of acts is of such a nature that is to doubtful which of several different offences the facts which can be proved will constitute, the accused may be charged with having committed all or any one or more of such offences and any number of such charges may be tried together; or he may be charged in the alternative with having committed someone or other of the said offences.
"217. If in the case mentioned in section 216 the accused is charged with one offence and it appears in evidence that he committed a different offence with which he might have been charged under the provisions of that section, he may be convicted of the offence which he is shown to have committed although he was not charged with it".
The three confessional statements led by Exhibit A of the appellant were positive, clear and the concurrent findings of the two counts could be seen to be well anchored. It was not difficult for the trial court to get the necessary inference of the conspiracy from those extra- judicial statements and thereafter the affirmation of the court below.
A reference to some of the cases of this court on what constitutes conspiracy would be helpful and I do not hesitate in seeking that aid. I shall quote a few thus:
"Conspiracy is accepted as an agreement of two or more persons to do an act which it is an offence to agree to do. As direct practice, evidence of plot between the conspirators is hardly capable of proof, the courts establish the offence of conspiracy as a matter of inference to be deduced from certain criminal acts of the parties concerned. The bottom line of the offence is the meeting of the minds of the conspirators to commit an offence, and the meeting of the minds need not be physical" Adejobi v State (2011) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1261) 347 at 375; Iyaro v State (1998) 1 WLR (Pt. 69) 256 (SC).
"Part of the law of conspiracy is that a conspiracy is complete if there are acts on the part of the appellant which leads the trial court to the inference and the court draws it, that the appellant and others were engaged in accomplishing the same common object. When a trial court arrives at this conclusion, then the acts of one becomes the acts of the other and vice versa"
At the risk of getting pedestrian I shall rely on the Oxford English Dictionary, 10th Edition page 17 for definition of agreement which word seems to be at the foundation of Conspiracy as an offence.
Oxford English Dictionary, 10th Edition page 17
Agreement - The sharing of opinion of feeling. An arrangement or contract agreed between people.
1. Have the same opinion about something.
2.. Be willing to do something which has been suggested by another person.
3. (Of two or more people) decide on something."
For the definition of conspiracy, Black's Law Dictionary Ninth Edition page 351 states thus:
"An agreement by two or more persons to commit an unlawful act, coupled with an intent to achieve the agreement's objective and action or conduct that furthers the agreement, a combination for an unlawful purpose."
Conspiracy is a separate offence from the crime that is the object of the conspiracy. A conspiracy ends when the unlawful act has been committed or when the agreement has been abandoned. A conspiracy does not automatically end if the conspiracy's object is defeated.
Clearly there was a large cache of materials in the three statements of the appellant from which the inference or deduction would be made of the agreement between appellant and his co-travelers or the meeting of their minds to carry out the illegal acts at play. The trial court was on the right footing in convicting him of the offence of conspiracy seeing he could not make a solid finding on the main offence of armed robbery. The reason is obvious since the offence of conspiracy is complete once the agreement is in place. The main act need not be effected for conspiracy to be well founded as the court of trial being well positioned in its satisfaction with the complicity of the appellant in the offence had done what the law expected the court to do and that is, make the finding for conspiracy and proceed with the conviction and sentence. The follow up is that the Court of Appeal was right, faced with the materials before it to agree with what the trial court did and affirmed not only the findings but the conviction and sentence. I place reliance on Usuman v State (2006) vol. 7 QCCR 163 at 167; Isiyaku Mohammed v kano N.A (1968) 1 ALL NLR 424; Osuaqwu v State (2013) ALL FWLR 1603 at 1613.
There is no difficulty in resolving the issue against the appellant.
ISSUE NO 2
Whether the prosecution proved the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.
Mr. Maduabuchi of counsel for the appellant contended that the conviction ought not to be as the prosecution had not discharged the burden in proof of the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. That the confessional statement fell short of the requirements for utilizing in procuring the conviction of the appellant.
He cited Adewale Joseph v The State (2011) 6 SCN 222; Sunday Ani & Anor v The State (2009) 6 SCNJ 98 at 108; Lasisi v State (2013) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1358) 74 at 107 - 108; Stephen v State (2013) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1355) 153 at 173 etc.
That the three statements made by the appellant were not direct, positive and unequivocal.
Learned counsel submitted that the extra judicial statement of the PW1 did not tally with his testimony in court and his statement which properly captured what transpired on the date of Incident was kept away by the prosecution and therefore caught by section 167 (d) of the Evidence Act. That the prosecution could not establish that there was only one robbery in September 2001 in Otia Street and that the
testimony of PW2 did not assist prosecution's case. He cited Abdullahi v The State (2008) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1115) 203 at 216 - 217; Odogwu v State (2003) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1373) 74 at 128.
He stated that the discredited evidence of the prosecution witnesses cannot be corroboration either for the confessional statement or the testimonies themselves. He cited Iko v The State (2001) 7 SCNJ 382 at 296.
That the trial court had not properly evaluated the facts of the case and the prosecution's case cannot be said to have been proved as required by law. He referred to Iheonunekwu Ndukwe v The State (2009) 2 SCNJ 223 at 257.
Mathew Atubu of counsel for the respondent stated that the extra judicial confessional statements of the appellant were clear and unambiguous and tested were found to be true and corroborated by the other facts before the trial court. That the conclusion reached by the trial judge was the proper one in the circumstance and the court below right to affirm. He relied on Kanu v Kino (1952) 14 WACA 30; Kotar v State (1971) ALL NLR 150; Njoku v State (1992) 1 NWLR (Pt. 262) 712 etc.
The appellant is of the view that there is little upon which it can be held that the prosecution proved its case as required by law, that is beyond reasonable doubt. It is true and not for debate that in criminal trials, the burden is always on the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt though it is incumbent upon the court to arrive at its decision though a process of reasoning which is analytical and commands confidence. See Abduliahi v The State (2008) 17 NWLR (Pt.1115) 203 at 216 - 217 per Katsina -Alu JSC as he then was).
The appellant questions whether the prosecution met this standard of proof required in proof of the offences charged and stated that the prosecution fell short of the stipulation. The respondent counters stating that the prosecution made out the case beyond reasonable doubt as expected. Before the court were the three confessional statements of the appellant and other material facts provided by the eye witnesses, PW1, PW2 and PW3. Interestingly, the appellant did not object to the tendering of the said statements as they were tendered by the person who extracted the statements from him though the appellant resiled at his defence. However, the trial court in evaluating all the materials was able to see corroboration of the statements from the evidence of the witnesses. In all the statements the appellant clearly stated the roles he played in the robbery operation showing an active participation. The truth of those statements which were voluntarily made are sufficient of themselves alone to ground a conviction and then taken along with the corroborating pieces of evidence with the surrounding circumstances the journey could lead to no other way than to the destination reached by the trial court to which the court below had no hesitation in affirming seeing the surfeit of materials that impelled the decision.
See Kanu v King (1952) 14 WACA 30;
Kotar v State (1971) ALL NLR 150;
Njoku v State (1992) 1 NWLR (Pt. 262) 712;
Shodiya v State (2013) ALL FWLR 7 1530 at 1533;
Abiodun v State (2013) ALL DWLR 1257 at 1261.
The prescription under section 138 (1) and (3) of the Evidence Act Cap 112 Laws of the Federation 1990 which guided the trial court at that time was to require of the court to ensure that the proof given by the prosecution is proof beyond reasonable doubt and not beyond all shadow of doubt. Clearly, the trial court was right in holding that the prosecution had met the standard expected of it. The court below had the same view thereby creating the concurrent findings of fact which this court can see no way of going against, there being a surfeit of materials on which the findings of the two courts were made. Also, no perversity existed in the course of those findings nor a miscarriage of justice.
In keeping with the procedure that concurrent findings are not to be tampered with without justification, I shall go along with those findings of the two courts below, well situated by law and the materials available.
See Brown v State (2005) Q.C.C vol. 3 page 59 at 63,
Aladu v State (1998) 8 NWLR (Pt. 563) 618;
Edamire v State (1996) 3 NWLR (Pt. 438) 530 at 539;
Osuaawu v State (2013) ALL FWLR 1600 at 1610.
To answer the question, I would without hesitation state that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and I resolve the Issue against the appellant.
The issues all found against the appellant I see no merit in the appeal and I hereby dismiss it. I affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal in its affirmation of the decision, conviction and sentences of the trial High Court.
I order that the conviction and sentences of the trial court on the appellant be effected accordingly.
(Delivered by Amina Adamu Auqie, JSC)
I had a preview of the lead Judgment delivered by my learned brother, Peter-Odili, JSC, and I agree with him that the appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. He has addressed all the relevant issues arising in the appeal, and has covered the field. I will only say a few words on conspiracy and the proof thereof.
Conspiracy is "an agreement by two or more persons to commit an unlawful act, coupled with an intent to achieve the agreements objective" - see Black's Law Dictionary 9th Ed. It is an agreement to do an unlawful act that can be inferred from the fact of doing things towards a common end, where there is no direct evidence in support of agreement between accused persons - see Erim V. State (1994) 5 NWLR (PL 346) 522 SC.
It is settled that the bedrock of the offence of conspiracy is the actual agreement itself to commit an unlawful act - see Ikemson V. The State (1989) 3 NWLR (PL 110) 455 SC, wherein this Court, per Karibi-Whyte, JSC, stated as follows -
An offence of conspiracy can be committed where persons have acted either by agreement or in concert. Bare agreement to commit the offence is sufficient the actual commission of the offence is not necessary. There was evidence that Appellants acted after agreement to commit the offence of Robbery with arms. This constitutes the offence.
In this case, the Appellant may not have been charged with the offence of conspiracy; however, there was sufficient evidence before the trial Court to ground a conviction for the offence of conspiracy, which is complete, once the agreement is in place.
As my learned brother, Peter-Odili, JSC, pointed out in the lead Judgment, there was more than enough evidence from which the trial Court rightly inferred an agreement between the Appellant and other Accused Persons to commit an illegal act.
The end result is that I also dismiss the Appeal and affirm the decision of the Court below affirming that of the trial Court.
(Delivered by I. T. Muhammad. JSC)
I agree with my Lord Peter Odili, JSC, that this appeal lacks merit- and it should be dismissed. I dismiss the appeal and abide by all orders made in the lead judgment.
(Delivered bv Olu Ariwoola, JSC)
I had the opportunity of reading the draft of the lead judgment just delivered by my learned brother, Peter-Odili, JSC. I am in agreement with the reasoning that led to the conclusion that the appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. It is accordingly dismissed by me.
A.O. Maduabuchi Esq. with Evelyn Joseph for the appellant.
Sir M. O. Afubu DDPP Benue State with Torsabo SSC Ministry of Justice, Benue State for the respondent.
A.O. Maduabuchi Esq. for the Appellant and with him Evelyn Joseph
Sir M. O. Atubu DDPP, Benue State for the respondent and with him Torsabo SSC Ministry of Justice, Benue.