What Really Happened on February 22, 1973?

On this day, the Supreme Court reserved judgement indefinitely in the appeal lodged by Patrick Njovens, Yesufu Bello, Amusa Abidogun and Samuel Taiwo Oredein over sentences of life imprisonment passed on them by an Ilorin High Court.

Mr. Justice James Adesiyun had, on January 3, 1972, sentenced the four men to life imprisonment on charges of aiding and abetting armed robbery. In his submission, the Kwara State director of public prosecutions and solicitor-general, Mr. Anthony Ekundayo urged the courts to disregard the technical irregularities or misdirections which might have arisen during the trial at the lower court. He submitted that once there were corroborations in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses, the convictions of the four men should be held. He urged that the irregularities were not of such serious nature as to pervert the cause of justice.

On the submission of Mr. Akinjide that alibi put forward by on of his clients, Bello, was not investigated, Mr. Ekundayo said nobody could plead alibi to the charge of abetting a criminal offence as it was in count one of the charge.

He agreed however that alibi could only be pleaded on count two which was of receiving stolen property. He agreed that there were times when an accused person had a duty in law to prove his alibi.

Mr. Ekundayo then submitted that Bello failed to call the writer of the police diary who recorded his movements on that day. He also failed to avail himself of the opportunity of summoning to court a member of his household to corroborate his defence that he was at home at the time the offence was alleged to have taken place.

On the submissions that prosecution witnesses numbers one, two, three and six were accomplices, Mr. Ekundayo contended that those witnesses could not be accomplices to the offences committed by the four men. He pointed out that those witnesses were accomplices to the offence of robbery.

In a brief reply, Mr. Funmi Jibowu, who stood for Mr. Akinjide, counsel for Bello and Abidogun said that if the court was satisfied that the irregularities in the case were of such a serious nature, it should allow the appeal. Chief Williams also told the court that if Mr. Ekundayo was not supporting convictions on some of the counts, the other two counts should then fail. He urged the court to allow the appeal of Njovens and Oredein.




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