Oluwatoyin Sobakin V. The State (1981) LLJR-SC

Oluwatoyin Sobakin V. The State (1981)

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The facts of this case are reprehensible. The appellant had earlier on, on the fateful evening, had an altercation and a fight with the deceased’s sister, who, as the evidence shows, had been a girl friend of the appellant. On being separated the appellant had boasted that he did not wish to pursue the fight further as he would wish to settle the issue later with the elder brother, the deceased, when the latter returned from work.

As soon as the deceased came, the appellant emerged from where he had been hiding and made straight for the deceased who, at that point in time, had prostrated in the traditional manner to greet his mother. As the deceased was rising up, the appellant dealt him a number of blows on his head which made him to collapse. He went into coma and although he was rushed to the hospital, he died on the following day. The appellant testified and called witnesses.

His case was that what had happened was an accident. The learned trial Judge heard all the evidence and in a very carefully worded judgment rejected the case of the appellant as an afterthought and accepted the case of the prosecution. The appellant was convicted and his appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed. Before us, learned counsel representing the appellant tried vainly to disparage the findings of fact made by the court of trial and the Court of Appeal.

I am satisfied that the conviction of the appellant is amply supported by evidence and that any finding on the evidence produced before the trial court other than that of guilt would have been perverse. We have accordingly not found it necessary to call upon the counsel for the State.

This appeal accordingly fails and it is dismissed. The conviction and sentence passed in this case are affirmed.

M. BELLO, J.S.C.: The Appellant was convicted of murder. The evidence which the trial Judge believed shows that after the Appellant had a fight with the sister of the deceased in the absence of the latter, the Appellant stated that he would fight the deceased man to man. Thereafter, the Appellant laid in waiting and when the deceased returned from work, he (the deceased) prostrated to greet his mother and while he was standing up, the Appellant stealthily came from behind the deceased and gave him three heavy blows with a plank on the head. The deceased fell down unconscious and subsequently died as the result of fractured skull. The defence of the Appellant, which the trial Judge rejected, was that he hit the deceased accidentally while warding off the attack on him by the deceased with a stool.

I agree the appeal has no merits. I accordingly reaffirm the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal affirming the conviction and sentence.

A. O. OBASEKI, J.S.C.: This is a murder appeal against the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal.

Having read the record and heard counsel for the appellant, I do not think there is any merit in this appeal. The facts of the case which are overwhelmingly against the appellant were fully considered by the learned trial Judge and his findings need no disturbance. Likewise, the defence of ‘accident’ received his fullest consideration, and I agree with him and the Federal Court of Appeal that the circumstances of the case makes the “defence of accident” unavailable to the appellant. The misdirection complained of in ground 2 argued before us is no misdirection but an observation of the Federal Court of Appeal that was fully justified by the record and judgment of the trial Judge.

The verdict of ‘guilty’ is fully justified by the evidence accepted by the learned trial Judge and the Federal Court of Appeal. A heavy blow on the forehead with a stick without provocation and not in self-defence fracturing the skull, resulting in the death of the deceased could not attract any other verdict.

I would therefore dismiss this appeal and I hereby dismiss it for lack of merit and affirm the conviction and sentence passed by the High Court and affirmed by the Federal Court of Appeal.

K. ESO, J.S.C.: There is no merit whatsoever in this appeal. Ground 1 is not justified by the evidence on the record and so that ground collapses. Ground 2 has no merit. All the witnesses said the appellant hit the deceased on the forehead apart from the back of the head.

This is evidence which has been sifted by two courts and in respect of which there is concurrent finding. This court will not rightly interfere except the finding of fact is very perverse.

This is not so in this case. The ground also fails.

The third ground deals only with general facts and as I said above there is no merit whatsoever in the appeal despite learned counsel’s lusty handling of the appeal.

Appeal is dismissed. Conviction and sentence affirmed.

A. N. ANIAGOLU, J.S.C.: If ever there was an appeal without merit this is one. The evidence discloses that the appellant had a quarrel with his ex-girl friend leading to a scuffle between them. The appellant then told her he would not fight a woman and that he would wait until her brother, the deceased, returned when he would deal with him “man to man”. When the deceased who did not know what went on between his sister and the accused returned, the appellant, armed with a stick, set upon him and hit him with the stick. Whether he hit him several times as testified to by some witnesses or only once as testified by others is of little comment. The deceased fell as a result of the assault and died shortly thereafter in hospital. The learned trial Judge considered all defences that could possibly be suggested in favour of the appellant, namely provocation, self-defence and accident, and found them not made out. The Federal Court of Appeal went to town to consider the case in detail both from point of view of the facts and the law and upheld the judgment of the High Court. I consider that Section 316 (3) of the Criminal Code of Lagos State applies and that the prosecution clearly made out a case of murder against the appellant. It was a premeditated act of the appellant and the only surprise is that the appellant should refuse to face the consequences of his act.

The trial court properly dealt with the case and was clearly right on the evidence in returning a verdict of murder against the appellant. The Court of Appeal was, in my view, right in confirming that judgment.

Accordingly, I would dismiss this appeal and hereby dismiss it. The judgment of the Court of Appeal, which confirmed the High Court judgment, is hereby confirmed.


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