The Presumption of the Law Where Stolen Property Is Found in Possession of a Person Immediately/Soon After a Theft

CASE TITLE: OLUWASEGUN v. STATE (2024) LPELR-62035 (CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 12TH APRIL, 2024
PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
LEAD JUDGMENT: BINTA FATIMA ZUBAIRU, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on the offences of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery.

FACTS:
This appeal stems from a judgment by the High Court of Oyo State, Ibadan Judicial Division, delivered on February 9, 2016, in suit No. 1/123C/2016.


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On March 26, 2016, the Appellant and another person, still at large, robbed Surajat Olatunde and her daughter Sadiat Oluwatosin Oyelakin at gunpoint and with a knife at their container shop in NNPC Apata, Ibadan. They stole Surajat’s bag containing N24,000 and forced Sadiat to hand over her bag with N200,000. After the robbery, they fled, but the victims raised an alarm, leading to the Appellant’s arrest. Surajat’s bag was found in his possession.

The Appellant faced a three-count charge, and the prosecution presented four witnesses, while the Appellant testified in his defense. The prosecution tendered several exhibits, including the Appellant’s confessional statement (Exhibit C3), which was objected to because the Appellant had retracted it. However, another exhibit (Exhibit B) was not objected to.

Despite the Appellant’s defense, the trial Judge, after considering all evidence and arguments, convicted and sentenced him to death by hanging. Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed the decision.

ISSUE(S) FOR DETERMINATION:
The Court determined the appeal on the following issues, viz:

  1. “Whether the lower Court misdirected itself in law and on facts when it convicted the Appellant on the basis of the evidence adduced.”
  2. “Whether the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.”

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court dismissed the appeal.

RATIOS:

  • CONSTITUTIONAL LAW- PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE: Whether an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- OFFENCE OF ARMED ROBBERY: Meaning and ingredients of the offence of armed robbery
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- GUILT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON: How to establish/prove the guilt of an accused person
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY: Meaning of conspiracy; how it can be inferred
  • EVIDENCE- CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: Conditions for admissibility of a confessional statement
  • EVIDENCE- CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: Position of the law where a confessional statement is retracted or denied
  • EVIDENCE- ORAL/DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE: Whether oral evidence can be allowed to discredit or contradict documentary evidence
  • EVIDENCE- BURDEN OF PROOF/STANDARD OF PROOF: Burden and standard of proof in criminal cases
  • EVIDENCE- DOCTRINE OF RECENT POSSESSION: The presumption of the law where a stolen property is found in possession of a person immediately/soon after a theft
  • EVIDENCE- CROSS-EXAMINATION: Effect of evidence that is not denied, challenged, or discredited under cross-examination

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