CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY – Nature and Ingredients of the offence of Conspiracy


“Count 1 on the Information relates to the offence of Conspiracy. Conspiracy, as an offence, is the agreement of two or more persons to do or cause to be done an illegal act or legal act by illegal means. This Court has held in a plethora of cases that a crime of conspiracy is distinct from the crime contemplated by the conspiracy. The gist of the offence of conspiracy, therefore, lies not in the doing of the act or the purpose for which the conspiracy is formed, but in forming of the scheme or agreement between the parties, State v SaLawu (2011) LPELR-8252 (SC); (2011) 18 NWLR (pt. 1279) 580; Oloye v State (2018) LPELR-44775 (SC); Gabriel Ogogovie v State (2016) LPELR-40501 (SC); Kayode v State LPELR-40028 (SC). To establish conspiracy, the prosecution must prove the following ingredients: (a) An agreement or confederacy between two or more persons, as one person cannot conspire with himself; (b) That the agreement or confederacy was to carry out an unlawful or illegal act which is an offence; and (c) That in furtherance of the agreement or confederacy, each of the accused persons took part in the commission of the offence. The findings of the learned trial Judge on the above ingredients are germane. The learned trial Judge found as follows: Simply put, conspiracy means an agreement between two or more persons to commit an unlawful act, in this case, armed robbery. To succeed, the prosecution must prove: a. That there was an agreement or confederacy between the accused persons; b. That in furtherance of the agreement or confederacy, each of the accused took part in the commission of the robbery; c. That the robbery was armed robbery. See: Adeyemo v The State (2010) LPELR-3622; Njovens v The State 11973) 5 S.C 17; Haruna v The State (1972) 8/9 S.C 174 Again, contrary to the submission of their Learned Counsel, Mr. Akinsola, there is in my view, abundant evidence before this Court, both from the prosecution witnesses and the confessional statements of the accused persons, that the three of them agreed to steal motorcycles with the use of firearms and dangerous weapons. In the confessional statements of second and third accused persons which I have already referred to, and which I believe to be true, and voluntary, they admitted their agreement to rob with arms and dangerous weapons. They also admitted that it was the first accused who procured the gun they were using for them. First accused person in both his confessional statements at Obantoko Police Station and the Sate CID, confessed that he was the one who gave the gun to be used for the operations to the third accused. He even stated the source of the gun. Although she attempted to deny the voluntariness of his statement at Obantoko Police Station, during the trial within trial he stated that he never made the statement at all, not that he made it involuntarily. In light of that, the trial within trial was, by agreement of both Counsel, discontinued, and the statement admitted. However, his further statements at the state C.I.D, were tendered and admitted without objection from him or his Counsel, as Exhibits 5,6 and 6A, and in these, he also confessed that he gave a gun to the third accused person for the purpose of carrying out robbery operations. I reiterate that I believe the confessional statements of the accused persons, to have been made voluntarily and without any inducement. In my view, they pass the test of truth laid down in Kanu v King (1952) 14 WACA 30 and followed in several other cases, and are entitled to be relied upon by this Court with considerable weight. The law is settled that the Court can convict solely on the confession of an accused voluntarily made. See: Adesina v The State (2012) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1321) 429. Having carefully examined all the facts in evidence, I am satisfied, that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt, all the necessary ingredients of conspiracy to commit armed robbery against the first, second and third accused persons. I find each of them guilty as charged in Count 1 of the Information. The lower Court did well by affirming the position of the trial Court. Quite apart from the trial Court’s findings, it is necessary to state here, for the sake of clarity, that to succeed on Count 1, it need not be actual agreement. It is trite law that in a charge for conspiracy, proof of actual agreement is not always easy to come by, Yakubu v State (2014) 8 NWLR (pt. 1408) 111. However, once it is clear that the accused persons had knowledge of the scheme, the offence is established. It is not necessary for the conspirators to know each other and they need not be seen together coming out from the same place at the same time, Njovens v The State (1973) 5 SC 17; (1973) LPELR- 2042 (SC); Adejobi v The State (2011) 12 NWLR (pt. 1261) 347. The evidence of a vital witness, if called by the Prosecution, settles this matter once and for all, Ochiba v State (2011) LPELR – 8245 (SC) 37; Omogodo v State (1981) 5 SC 5; Onah v The State (1985) 3 NWLR (pt 12) 236; Shorumo v State (2010) LPELR -3069 (SC) 13.” Per CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE, JSC in AKINKUNMI v. STATE (2022-LCER-46533-SC) (Pp 22 – 26; Paras A – C)

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