In the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Holden at Abuja
Appellant: JOEL IGHALO
Respondent: THE STATE
JUDGMENT (DELIVERED BY SULEIMAN GALADIMA, JSC)
This appeal is against the judgment of the Court of Appeal Benin in Appeal No.CA/B/216c/2009 delivered on the 19th day of April 2013, in which the Court affirmed the conviction and sentence of the High Court of Edo State sitting at Benin City.
The sole issue distilled by the Appellant and which was adopted by the Respondent is:
"Whether the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the decision of the trial Court holding that the prosecution did prove the guilt of the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt."
I have had the privilege of a preview of the judgment just delivered by my learned brother AKA'AHS JSC. I am in entire agreement with him that this appeal lacks merit and must perforce fail. The dominant issue in this appeal as contested in the two Courts below is whether from the nature of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, the offence of armed robbery has been proved against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt. The facts of the gruesome case have been so ably set out in the leading judgment that I do not deem it necessary to embark on any further review of them.
The evidence of PW3, the father of the appellant was thoroughly considered and evaluated by the learned trial judge; and the Court below rightly affirmed same. There is concurrent findings of fact by the two courts. Appellant has not shown that the decisions of those courts were perverse or cannot be supported having regard to the evidence adduced by the prosecution, or the principle of law has been violated thereby leading to a miscarriage of justice. PW3 gave evidence that he was able to recognize the appellant as one of the robbers because:
"There and then the second person in the group flashed light on to my face when he did that I saw it was the accused (appellant herein)."
The learned counsel for the appellant when cross-examining PW3 failed to suggest that his vision was blurred as a result of the torch light that was flashed directly into his face, and so could not say with certainty that it was the appellant he recognized, rather he decided to ask him to describe the type of light that was flashed on his face. PW3's answer was that he did not know.
That is why the learned trial judge rejected the contention of the appellant's counsel that the failure by PW3 to describe the flash light beamed on him created some doubt in PW3's identification. I agree with the trial judge when he held that this point raised by the counsel was extremely untenable. He rightly believed and accepted the evidence of PW3 that the appellant was one of the persons who invaded his house with various offensive weapons and robbed him and members of his household and fatally injured one of his sons. The court below on the other hand considered the issue and held that the identification of the appellant by PW3 was not challenged under cross-examination. The court thus concluded that the trial judge carefully evaluated the evidence of PW3 and also concluded that the prosecution did establish the offence of armed robbery against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.
The Court below also properly addressed the issue of the probative value of PW3's evidence on the sour relationship that existed between him and appellant when it stated at page 128 of the record inter alia, that:
"In its judgment the lower court having noted that the identification of the appellant was not challenged under cross-examination also noted that the fact that PW3 and the appellant are father and son underscores the fact that the appellant's identification was not in doubt but also moved a step further to say that it made the identification of the appellant by PW3 much easier."
Also issue of alibi set up by the appellant was investigated by PW4. He was believed by the learned trial judge who disbelieved the evidence put forward by the appellant and DW1.
In view of the foregoing I, too, dismiss this
EMMANUEL O. ACHUKWU Esq, with R.C. Hezes and J. N. Okongwu Esq, for the Appellant
ADEWALE ATAKE Esq, with Solomon Babajide Esq, for the Respondent.