A Delta State High Court sitting in Warri Judicial Division presided over Justice A.A. Onojovwo, has sentenced one Victor Nwankpa to death by hanging for armed robbery.
The court presided over handed down the sentence on Tuesday when the defendant was arraigned before it on three count charges bothering on conspiracy, armed robbery and forgery.
The offences were punishable under sections 516 Criminal Code Law, Cap C 21, Vol. 1, Laws of Delta State, 2006; 1 (2) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap R11, Vol. 14, L.F.N 2010 and 467 of the Criminal Code, respectively.
The defendant, who pleaded not guilty was alleged to have on the 2nd day of November, 2014 along Okere Road in Warri conspired with others now at large to commit armed robbery and did rob one Rev. Fr. Vianney Oghenetega Adakre of his Toyota Camry car with Registration No: KSF 801 AQ, Tecno and Nokia cell phones, and other personal belongings at same place and time armed with guns.
He was also alleged to have sometime in November, 2014 at Asaba forged the vehicle particulars and car plate Number KSF 801 AQ to AKD 143 DD.
Counsel to the defendant, A. Ebiuwevwin, contended among other issues that prosecution failed to lead evidence to show agreement with any other person to rob PW 1, doubting if the PW 1 truly recognized the defendant as one of the robbers since the incident was in the night.
He further argued that PW 1 under cross-examination admitted not to have met the defendant before the date of the incident and that the statement of PW 1 in the witness box as recognising the defendant as one of the armed robbers was an afterthought or just cashing in on the fact that the Defendant was arrested with the Toyota Camry which he claimed to buy.
The defence counsel, therefore, urged the Court to resolve the doubt in favour of the defendant and accordingly discharge and acquit him on the three counts.
The State Counsel, J. A. Otite on his part submitted that the prosecution has proved the three counts to-wit: conspiracy, armed robbery and forgery beyond reasonable doubt against the Defendant.
He urged the Court to convict him (defendant) accordingly.
While acknowledging trite law that it is the prosecution who has the onus to prove beyond reasonable doubt essential elements of the offence to secure conviction, the trial Judge, Justice A. A. Onojowo stated that the inconsistency between the evidence in Court and Exhibit ” C ” as to where and how the Defendant bought the vehicle was material, declaring that both evidence in Court and extra-judicial confessional statement should be regarded as unreliable and disregarded.
The Court also queried the dispatched with which the defendant acquired the particulars of the Toyota Camry car claimed to have been bought from one Lucky, stating: “In my view, the only inference to be drawn from the fact that in under twenty four hours of the robbery, the defendant procured a new number plate, got a road worthiness in Lagos and had the car insured, is that he was among the armed robbers who dispossessed the PW1 of his car on 2 – 11- 2014. I further take the view, therefore, that the doctrine of recent possession under section 167 (a) of the Evidence Act, applies to this case, and I consequently hold the defendant was one of the three armed men who robbed the PW 1 of his car and other valuables.”
The Court finally held that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the offences charged in counts 1, 11 and 111 against the Defendant as required by section 135 (1) of Evidence Act, 2011 and that the Defendant failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt as required of him in the circumstances by section 135 (3) of the same Evidence Act.