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Court may infer conspiracy from criminal acts – Appeal Court

The respondent was therefore able to prove the offence of conspiracy to commit armed robbery beyond reasonable doubt.
On the offence of armed robbery the learned Attorney General referred to section 1 (2) of the Robbery and Firearms Act, Cap R 11, L.F.N 2004 wherefrom he picked the following essential ingredients:
a. That there was robbery
b. That the robbery was an armed robbery and;
c.   That the accused person took part in the robbery. See Okudo v. The State (2011) 3 NWLR pt. 1234, 209 at 233 and State v. Salawu (2012) All FWLR pt. 614, 1 at page 34.
It was submitted for the respondent that the prosecution had established all these ingredients beyond reasonable doubt before the trial court in view of the direct evidence of Pw2 who was physically present at the scene of the crime and who narrated how and in what manner she was robbed. The Pw2 did not mince word in her direct evidence to the effect that on 13/10/2011 while she was about entering her house with her daughter, she was robbed of her properties which include her car, money and jewelries at gun point by the appellant and the other accused person. The evidence of Pw2 on this ingredient is quite relevant, direct and cogent. It was clear from the testimony of the Pw2 testified before the trial court that, on that day, at the scene of crime the appellant and other accused person came out of their car and brought out a gun threatening to kill her if she did not surrender her car, phone set and money to them. There is no argument or controversy that a gun is not only an arm but a firearm within the contemplation of section 11 of the Robbery and firearms Act. Cap R11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The respondent had therefore established the basic ingredients of armed robbery against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.
The next ingredient of the offence is whether the appellant took part in the robbery.
The learned Attorney General submitted that the evidence of Pw2 on this issue is most relevant, direct, cogent and compelling. She, as the victim of the robbery, narrated before the trial Court the role played by the appellant and the other accused person and how they displayed fake remorsefulness at Eleyele Police Station by pleading with her to forgive them. Moreover she personally identified the appellant as one of those who committed the armed robbery.
These pieces of evidence were never denied by the appellant nor even the other accused person in their evidence before the trial court. It is therefore rightly relied” upon by the trial court.
The appellants reply brief simply concentrates on the application of Order 17 Rule 4(1) of the Rules of this court which is inconsequential to the quality of the evidence adduced by the Respondent and standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
From the foregoing pieces of evidence and specifically the evidence of Pw2 who was not only an eye witness but the actual victim of the armed robbery coupled with the fact that the appellant was arrested soon after the nefarious activity with the stolen items one is left with no reasonable doubt that the offences of conspiracy and armed robbery have been proved against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt and the trial court is as much obliged to convict the appellant as it would have been to discharge and acquit him if the evidence falls short of proof beyond reasonable doubt. In the circumstances, I am unable to fault the reasoning and conclusion of the trial court in finding the appellant guilty as charged and convicting and sentencing him accordingly. The evidence against the appellant has proved beyond reasonable doubt all the ingredients of the offence of armed robbery against him. The infinitesimal possibility of doubt will not exculpate him. The Supreme Court has stressed the antithesis and synthesis inference harrowed from credible circumstantial evidence already established in the case of Sunday lyaro v The State (1988) 1 N.S.C.C 167 where Wali, JSC observed thus:
“The learned trial judge rightly inferred in my view, from the evidence before him that the preparatory operation of the 1st accused and which he was to perform is to get a victim or victims as passengers in the taxi cab LA 3483 AL to the arranged spot. The circumstantial evidence is so strong against the appellant that inference can be made from if other than that of guilt. See Onochie v. The Republic (1966) N.M.L.R. 307. As Unsworth FJ. said in The Queen v. Donald Ororosokode (1960) F.S.C. 208 at 210 that:
“It is true that there are cases in which circumstantial evidence may be the best evidence because (as has been said) if is capable of proving a proposition with the precision of mathematics.”
See also Edet Obasi v. The State (1965) N. M. L. R. 129 and R. v. Tapper (1952) A.C. 480 at 489.
In the result, the conviction of the appellant by the trial court for the offence of armed robbery which was subsequently affirmed on appeal by the Court of Appeal Lagos, is hereby confirmed.”
The burden of proof in a criminal case is on the prosecution and it is beyond reasonable doubt. The term reasonable doubt is such degree of doubt which a reasonable person might entertain. It is not fanciful or imaginary doubt. It is a doubt as would cause prudent man to hesitate before acting in matters of importance to themselves. (See Black Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, page 1265}. A prudent man is a man who thinks carefully before taking action. He is careful to avoid risks unpleasantness and difficulties.
While our adjectival law places on the prosecution the duty to prove the guilt of an accused person beyond reasonable doubt, it does not place on the prosecution the duty to prove the case beyond all shadow of doubt. Shadows of doubt could be reflected in the case of the prosecution but that cannot in law stop or inhibit conviction. The court must convict an accused person the moment the prosecution proves its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The learned trial judge was therefore right in convicting and sentencing the appellant according law. The issue cannot but be resolved against the appellant. The appeal is completely bereft of substance and is hereby dismissed.
I affirm the judgment of the lower court delivered by T. S. Umar, J on the 18th of July 2013 in conjunction with the conviction and sentence imposed by the learned trial judge.

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Counsel:
Chief J. A. Akinola for the respondent.
Kamaldeen Ajibade (Hon Attorney General Kwara State); with O. S. Baldgun SSC for the respondent.

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