Standard of Proof in Criminal Cases

Relevant Sections of the Evidence Act – Section 135 of the Evidence Act 2011

Synopsis – The standard of proof in criminal cases is now established to be proof beyond reasonable doubt and not proof beyond every shadow of doubt. A pertinent question would be what amounts to proof beyond reasonable doubt? In the case of Miller v Minister of Pensions (1947) 2 All ER 372, Lord Denning said on the nature of proof beyond reasonable doubt, said that; It need not reach certainty, but it must carry a high degree of probability. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond the shadow of doubt. The law would fail to protect the community if it admitted fanciful possibilities to deflect the course of justice. If the evidence is so strong against a man as to leave only a remote possibility in his favour which can be dismissed with the sentence, of course, it is possible but not in the least probable the case is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”

This position has been followed by a plethora of Nigerian cases. Thus, in the case of AKINLOLU v. STATE (2015) LPELR-25986(SC), the Supreme Court described proof beyond reasonable doubt in the following words – “Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond all doubt, or all shadow of doubt. It simply means establishing the guilt of the accused person with compelling and conclusive evidence. A degree of compulsion which is consistent with a high degree of probability. See Lori & anor v. State 1980 12 NSCC p. 269.” Pp 38 – 38 Paras B – C.

The provision of the law on the standard of proof required in criminal trials must be appreciated against the backdrop of the presumption of innocence of the accused persons (or defendants) as well as the position of the law that mere suspicion is not enough to ground a conviction for an offence.

Decided Cases on the Standard of Proof in Criminal Cases

AJAYI v. STATE (2013) LPELR-19941(SC)

“…the standard of proof in a criminal trial is, proof beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, it is not enough for the prosecution to suspect a person of having committed a crime, there must be evidence which linked the person accused with the offence alleged.” Per OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA, JSC (Pp 43 – 43 Paras B – C)

EKPO v. STATE (2018) LPELR-43843(SC)

“Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond all doubt, or all shadow of doubt. It simply means establishing the guilt of the accused person with compelling and conclusive evidence. As was held by Oputa, JSC in Bakare v The State (1987) 1 NSCC Vol. 18 P.267 at 279, the burden is on the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt with emphasis on “reasonable”‘ That not all doubts are reasonable. It was further assessed that reasonable doubt will automatically exclude unreasonable doubt, fanciful doubt, imaginary doubt and speculative doubt i.e. a doubt not borne out by the facts and surrounding circumstances of the case. Reasonable doubt does not eliminate the possibility of any doubts whatsoever, including remote possibilities as was expressed by Denning J in Miller v Minister of Pensions (1947) 2 All ER 373 as follows:- “The law will fail to protect the community if it admitted fanciful possibilities to deflect the course of justice. If the evidence is so strong as to leave only a remote possibility in his favour which can be dismissed with one sentence – ‘of course it is possible but not in the least probable’ the case is proved beyond reasonable doubt. See also Nwaturuocha v the State (2011) LPELR – 8119 (SC), (2011) 6 NWLR (Pt.1242) 170, Akinlolu v The State (2015) LPELR – 25986 (SC).” Per JOHN INYANG OKORO, JSC (Pp 18 – 19 Paras B – B)

ENEBELI v. STATE (2021) LPELR-54990(SC)

“The law has crystalized in our criminal jurisprudence that an accused person is presumed innocent until he or she is proved guilty. The prosecution is saddled with the burden of proving the guilt of the accused person and the standard of such proof in criminal cases or trial is proof beyond reasonable doubt. See JOSEPH ORUNGU & ORS VS THE STATE (1970) LPELR- 2780 (SC). See Section 135 of the Evidence Act 2011 (as amended) and also Section 138 of the same Evidence Act which makes provision for the standard of proof.” Per ADAMU JAURO, JSC (Pp 16 – 16 Paras D – F)

NWATURUOCHA v. STATE (2011) LPELR-8119(SC)

“It is trite law that it is not the duty of an accused to prove his innocence as a matter of law, there is always a presumption of innocence in favour of an accused. The standard of proof in a criminal trial is proof beyond reasonable doubt. It is not enough for the prosecution to suspect a person of having committed a criminal offence, there must be evidence which identified the person accused with the offence. However proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond shadow of doubt. Aigbadion v. State (2000) 4SC Pt.1 pg.1, Agbe v. State (2006) 6 NWLR pt. 977 pg.545, Section 138 of the Evidence Act Cap 112 Laws of the Federation 1990, Akinyemi v. State (1999) 6 NWLR pt.607 pg.449, Alonge v. I.G.P. (1959) SCNLR pt.576.” Per OLUFUNLOLA OYELOLA ADEKEYE, JSC (Pp 15 – 15 Paras B – F).

Burden of Proof in Criminal Matters

Relevant Section of the Evidence Act – Sections 135 and 139 of the Evidence Act 2011

IORHEM v. STATE (2017) LPELR-43631(CA)

“In a criminal trial, the burden of proof lies throughout upon the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused person beyond reasonable doubt. The burden never shifts. Even where the accused person in his statement to the police admitted committing the offence, the prosecution is not relieved of the burden. Failure to discharge this burden renders the benefit of doubt in favour of the accused so that a wrong person may not be convicted for an offence he never committed. See People of Lagos State V. Umaru (2014) 3 SCNJ 114 at 137 and Igabele V. The State (2006) 6 NWLR (Pt. 975) 100.” Per JAMES SHEHU ABIRIYI, JCA (Pp 29 – 30 Paras D – A)

OMOREGIE v. STATE (2017) LPELR-42466(SC)

“The Law is settled that in criminal cases, the burden of proof that the accused committed the offence for which he is charged lies squarely on the prosecution, who must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and a general duty to rebut the presumption of innocence constitutionally guaranteed to the accused person. This burden never shifts. See Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 135(2) of the Evidence Act, Alabi v The State (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt.307) 511 8t 531 paras A-C, Solola v The State (2005) 5 SC (Pt.1) 135.” Per PAUL ADAMU GALUMJE, JSC (Pp 22 – 23 Paras F – C)

ADEKOYA v. STATE (2012) LPELR-7815(SC)

“The fundamental aspect of burden of proof in criminal trials is the presumption of innocence in favour of an accused. It is entrenched in Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution that “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.” The Evidence Act Section 138(1) Laws of the Federation 2004 (Now Section 135(1) of the Evidence Act 2011) however stipulates that: “If the commission of a crime by a party to any proceeding is directly in issue in any proceeding civil or criminal, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.” Under our criminal law, it is not the duty of an accused to prove his innocence. The standard of proof in a criminal trial is proof beyond reasonable doubt. Which demands that it is not enough for the prosecution to suspect a person of having committed a criminal offence? There must be evidence which identified the person accused with the offence. The consequences of presumption of innocence in favour of an accused person are that the burden placed on the prosecution to prove the guilt of an accused person beyond reasonable doubt must be satisfied. Any slightest doubt raised by an accused person shall lead the Court to resolve this doubt in favour of an accused. Igabele v. State (2006) 6 NWLR (pt.975) pg.100, Agbo v. State (2006) 6 NWLR (pt.977) pg.545, Aigbadion v. State (2000) 4 SC (pt.1) pg.15.” Per OLUFUNLOLA OYELOLA ADEKEYE, JSC (Pp 28 – 29 Paras D – B)

See also  MADUKOLU V. NKEMDILIM (1962) 2 SCNLR 341 (FULL LAW REPORT)

OWOLABI v. STATE (2018) LPELR-46031(CA)

“In criminal trial, the burden of proving the guilt of the accused person is on the prosecution to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt and it never shifts. ANI V STATE (2003) 11 NWLR (PT. 830) PG. 142, IFEJIRIKA V STATE (1999) 3 NWLR (PT. 593) PG. 59, IGABELE V STATE (SUPRA).” Per UZO IFEYINWA NDUKWE-ANYANWU, JCA (Pp 25 – 26 Paras F – A)

Mens Rea and Actus Reus

Need to Prove Mens Rea and Actus Reus

LIMAN v. STATE (2016) LPELR-40260(CA)

“It is also trite that criminal responsibility for the commission of a crime is premised on the satisfactory proof of the two pillars of actus reus and mens rea, the doing of the act that constitutes the offence and the requisite mental capacity and the duty is always on the prosecution to prove the commission of a crime by proving the act done and the requisite guilty mind of the accused person beyond reasonable doubt. In other words, in a criminal trial, before an accused person is asked to undergo any sort of sentence, there must be a finding by the trial Court on the concurrence of the two main elements of any crime; that is, the actus reus and the mens rea. Actus reus is taken to be the wrongful deed that comprises the physical components of a crime and that generally must be coupled with mens rea. Mens rea is the criminal intent or guilty mind of the accused. For the prosecution to establish a criminal act against an accused person, it must go beyond establishing the commission of the unlawful criminal act by the accused and establish that the accused had the correct legal criminal mind of committing the act. The two must co-exist, whether explicitly or by necessary implication – Njoku Vs State (2013) 2 NWLR (Pt 1339) 548.” Per HABEEB ADEWALE OLUMUYIWA ABIRU, JCA (Pp 12 – 13 Paras E – D)

ABUBAKAR v. FRN (2022) LPELR-58650(CA)

In every criminal trial, the basic components that must be established by the prosecution are actus reus and mens rea. That is, the doing of the act or omission complained of and the guilty mind that procured the act or omission. That means, apart from doing the act (in this case, issuing a dud cheque), there must also be the requisite intention to deceive, cheat, swindle or defraud the recipient of the cheque and deny him of the value accrued to the cheque, after enjoying that corresponding value (by the person who issued the cheque). The legal principle of actus reus and men rea are well defined. See the cases of Eze Vs The State (2017) LPELR-42006 CA: “To establish criminal responsibility, there must be mens-rea – criminal knowledge or intention to commit the offence, to support the actus reus – the actual act. Aminu Tanko Vs The State (2009) 4 NWLR (pt.1131) 430; Okewu Vs FRN (2012) LPELR 7834 (SC).” See also Idagu Vs The State (2018) LPELR-44343 (SC): “It is a fundamental principle of criminal law that a crime consists of both a mental and a physical element. Mens rea, a person’s awareness that his or her conduct is criminal, is the mental element, and actus reus, the act itself is the physical element. The concept of mens rea, which is Law Latin for “guilty mind”, developed in England around the year 1600, when Judges began to hold that an act alone could not create criminal liability unless it was accompanied by a guilty state of mind. The degree of mens rea required for a particular common law crime varied then. In other words, mens rea is a criminal intention or knowledge that an act is wrong, and today most of the crimes are defined by statutes that generally contains a word or phrase indicating the mens rea requirement. Thus, a typical statute may require that a person act knowingly, purposely or recklessly – see legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com. In this case, the Appellant was charged with the offence of murder contrary to Section 316 of the Criminal Code applicable in Ondo State, and the Prosecution was expected to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged act was intentional with the knowledge that death or grievous bodily harm was a probable consequence – Akinfe V. State (1988) 3 NWLR (Pt. 85) 729.” Per AUGIE, JSC” Per ITA GEORGE MBABA, JCA (Pp 17 – 19 Paras B – A)

ONYA v. STATE (2019) LPELR-48500(CA)

“The law presumes that a man intends the natural and probable consequences of his acts and that the test to be applied to the circumstances is the objective as opposed to subjective test of what a reasonable man in the street would contemplate as the probable result of his acts. In the instant case, would a reasonable man contemplate the murder of the deceased? In other words, can intention to murder the deceased be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case? I do not think so. There was no evidence of intention by the appellant to kill the deceased or caused him any grievous harm. In the circumstances of this case, I am of the view that it was not enough for the prosecution to prove that the appellant was one of the youths that invaded the deceased’s house. It was necessary for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant embarked on the act which resulted in the murder of the deceased with a culpable state of mind which in my view the prosecution failed to do. See BOLANLE ABEKE V. THE STATE (2007) LPELR- 31 (SC) AT 18 B-F) where the Supreme Court per TOBI,JSC held that: “I entirely agree with the appellant that to convict on the above subsection, the prosecution must prove that the accused had mens rea and actus reus. Put in common simple parlance, mens rea means a guilty mind. And actus reus means a guilty act. In cases of strict liability, mens rea comes before actus reus. In other words, the accused develops the guilty mind before guiIty act. Put in another language, the guilty mind instigates the guilty act or flows into the guilty act. The period of time between the two cannot be determined in vacuo but in relation to the factual situation in each case dictated by the state of criminality of the accused at the material time. There are instances where the mens rea is automatically followed by the actus reus. The above element of proximity apart, there could be instances of spontaneity too.”  Per MISITURA OMODERE BOLAJI-YUSUFF, JCA (Pp 24 – 27 Paras C – C

TAIWO v. FRN (2019) LPELR-47635(CA)

“Except in cases of strict liability, offences in the Criminal Law are structured to comprise of two parts – a physical part and a mental part, the physical part or actus reus means the whole definition of the crime with the exception of the mental element; See Glanville William Criminal Law 18. See also Okonkwo and Naish Criminal Law in Nigeria 45. There is also the mental element because the law does not ordinarily punish mere intention until it merges into the physical act. It is expressed as “actus non facit reum nisi men sit red’, the act does not constitute a crime unless accompanied by a guilty mind. Every offence is defined by its ingredients or elements. In this appeal, one element of the offence under Section 26 (2) of the Trafficking In Persons Act is “to obtain financial benefit” i.e. an inducement in the alleged trafficker to obtain financial benefit. This can be proved by showing a financial consideration at any stage. It must not be presumed as the trial Judge did in this case. One cannot say “she probably committed the offence as she couldn’t have done it nothing”. Pecuniary benefit in the real sense must be proved. The law is that the prosecution is bound to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and in doing so must prove all elements of the offence physical and mental. R V. LAWRENCE (1933) 11 NLR 6; 1933 AC 699; R V. ADAMU (1944) 10 WACA 161 SECTION 135 OF THE EVIDENCE ACT 2011. A trial Court would be asking questions such as the following: i. What was paid to the defendant/appellant and why? ii. Can financial proof be established by circumstantial evidence? iii. In what pecuniary way was the defendant/appellant induced? iv. What if the intendment of the defendant/appellant was just to help the mother of Abike have normal and lawful custody of her natural child? v. Is it forbidden by any law for Abike to rejoin her mother in London? The trial Court failed in all these inquiry. The trial Judge acted on her own conjecture and not evidence. The lead judgment in this appeal by my Lord Folasade Ayodeji Ojo, JCA has demonstrated the futility of such conjecture. The stream of the Criminal Law must be kept pure and devoid of all subjectivity. Judges must look beyond the parties in cases before them.” Per NONYEREM OKORONKWO, JCA (Pp 28 – 30 Paras F – E).

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STEPHEN v. STATE (2008) LPELR-8360(CA)

“It is imperative to state that the offence of being in an unlawful possession of firearms does not require proof of mens res and actus reus as contended by the Appellant’s Counsel. It is a strict liability offence. The elements do not contain the need for criminal intent or mens rea. Once a person has knowingly taken possession of an article and it remains within his control, he continues in possession of it. So long as the appellant did not come into possession of the weapon in accordance with the Act or any order made thereunder, it can never be argued that his intentions were entirely lawful. It is not necessarily a reasonable excuse that the weapon is carried only for self-defence. One, who is under constant threat, it is said, must resort to the police. He commits an offence if he regularly goes out armed for self-defence. Thus, in Bradley V. Moss (1974) Crim. LR 430, DC: Pittard V. Mahoney (1977) Crim. LR 169, Grieve V. Macleod (1967) SCT 70, it was held that there was no excuse for carrying an ironbar though D had reasonable cause to fear and did fear that he would be violently attacked and intended to use the bar for defence only, and, that, it was not reasonable for an Edinburgh taxi-driver to carry two feet of rubber hose with a piece of metal inserted at one end, though he does so for defence against violent passengers whom taxi drivers sometimes encounter at night. See Smith & Hogan Criminal Law, 10th Edition (2002) p. 461-462. In Olatunji’s case, it was because grenade was not covered by the definition of firearm, that a ballistician was held to have been needed to establish whether the grenade was a firearm or not.” Per THERESA NGOLIKA ORJI-ABADUA, JCA (Pp 16 – 18 Paras E – A).

EGWU v. STATE (2019) LPELR-48499(CA)

“The question is whether the appellant had the mens rea, that is the intention to commit murder or serious bodily harm necessary to convict him for murder. From the entire evidence on record, it is clear that the only intention of sending the task force to bring those not at the meeting was to mobilize the youths for the meeting. I do not think it can reasonable be argued that the appellant had the slightest criminal intent or could have foreseen the murder of the deceased as the consequence of trying to mobilize the youths to attend a meeting. The law presumes that a man intends the natural and probable consequences of his acts and that the test to be applied to the circumstances is objective as opposed to subjective test of what a reasonable man in the street would contemplate as the probable result of his acts. In the instant case, would a reasonable man contemplate the murder of the deceased? In other words, can intention to murder the deceased be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case? I do not think so. There was no evidence of intention by the appellant to kill the deceased or caused him any grievous harm. In the circumstances of this case, I am of the view that it was not enough for the prosecution to prove that the appellant was the one that sent the task force and/or the youths to the deceased’s house. It was necessary for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant embarked on the act which resulted in the murder of the deceased with a culpable state of mind which in my view the prosecution failed to do. See BOLANLE ABEKE V. THE STATE (2007) LPELR- 31 (SC) AT 18 B-F) where the Supreme Court per TOBI, JSC held that: “I entirely agree with the appellant that to convict on the above subsection, the prosecution must prove that the accused had mens rea and actus reus. Put in common simple parlance, mens rea means a guilty mind. And actus reus means a guilty act. In cases of strict liability, mens rea comes before actus reus. In other words, the accused develops the guilty mind before guiIty act. Put in another language, the guilty mind instigates the guilty act or flows into the guilty act. The period of time between the two cannot be determined in vacuo but in relation to the factual situation in each case dictated by the state of criminality of the accused at the material time. There are instances where the mens rea is automatically followed by the actus reus. The above element of proximity apart, there could be instances of spontaneity too.” In NJOKU & ORS. V.THE STATE (2012) LPELR-20608(SC) AT 21-22 (F-E), the Supreme Court per Onoghen JSC held that: “it is elementary in criminal trial that before an accused person is asked to undergo any sort of sentence, there must be a finding by the trial Court on the concurrence of the two main elements of any crime that is the ACTUS REUS and the MENS REA. ACTUS REUS is taken to be the wrongful deed that comprises the physical components of a crime and that generally must be coupled with MENS REA. MENS REA is the criminal intent or guilty mind of the accused. For the prosecution to establish a criminal act against an accused person, it must go beyond establishing the commission of the unlawful criminal act by the accused but must establish that the accused has the correct legal (criminal) mind of committing the act. The two must co-exist whether explicitly or by necessary implication. In their interplay of words/phrases reflected in their book: ‘Criminal Law 831’, 3rd edition 1982, Rollin M. Perkins and Ronald N. Boyce, stated that: “The actus reus is essential to crime but is not sufficient for this purpose without the necessary mens rea, just as mens rea is essential to crime but is insufficient without the necessary actus reus.” It is clear to me from the entire evidence on record that the prosecution failed to prove the appellant had the necessary mens rea or criminal intent to murder the deceased.” Per MISITURA OMODERE BOLAJI-YUSUFF, JCA (Pp 24 – 28 Paras D – A)

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STATE v. KALIB (2021) LPELR-56084(CA)

“…for a person to be held liable for a criminal offence there must be present the physical and mental elements of the offence which in legal parlance is referred to as the actus reus and the mens rea. Except in strict liability offences, no person will be convicted for a criminal offence if either the actus reus or mens rea is missing. This is an established principle of law. In proving its case beyond reasonable doubt, the prosecution is expected to prove both aspect of the offence. See Taiwo vs FRN (2019) LPELR-47635 (CA). In Olufemi Babalola & Ors vs The State (1989) 7 SC (pt 1) 94, the apex Court per Oputa, JSC of blessed memory drove home this point in these words: “It is not necessary here to go into remote history of mens rea except to say that in common law offences, there are always present two essential elements:- (a) a guilty conduct and (b) a mind at fault. It was the great St. Augustine who once remarked that “ream linguam non facit nisi mens rea”. Probably from there, the legalists got the now popular latin maxim – actus non facitreum nisi mens sit rea. No man, (including the 1st appellant), should according to this maxim be convicted of a crime unless his physical conduct, (the actus) is accompanied with a guilty mental element a mind of fault, a mens rea. The intent and the act must both concur to constitute the crime:- Fowler v. Padget (1997) 7 T. R. 509 at p. 514. And as Stephen J., observed in R. v. Tolson (1889) 23 Q.B.D. 168 at p. 187:- “The full definition of every crime contains expressly or by implication a proposition as to the state of mind.” Per EBIOWEI TOBI, JCA (Pp 11 – 12 Paras B – E)

Proving the Ingredients of an Offence

TEMITAYO v. STATE OF EKITI (2021) LPELR-56039(CA)

“The ingredients of any offence are always discernable from the language used by the legislature in providing for the offence. See the case of ROLAND VS. FRN (2018) LPELR-43686 (CA) where this Court held on page 32, paragraph B, that: It is settled law that the ingredients of an offence are embedded in the words employed by the statute creating the offence and it will not be proper to import words, which the lawmaker did not use in order to ascertain the ingredients of the offence.” Per BALKISU BELLO ALIYU, JCA (Pp 21 – 21 Paras B – D)

ROLAND v. FRN (2018) LPELR-43686(CA)

“It is settled law that the ingredients of an offence are embedded in the words employed by the statute creating the offence and it will not be proper to import words which the lawmaker did not use in order to ascertain the ingredients of the offence.” Per UGOCHUKWU ANTHONY OGAKWU, JCA (Pp 32 – 32 Paras B – D)

TAIWO v. FRN (2019) LPELR-47635(CA)

“Having failed to establish that the Appellant benefited financially or materially from the deal, a consideration of proof of the other ingredients of the offence under Section 26(2) (Supra) has become unnecessary. Failure of the prosecution to establish one of the ingredients of the offence is sufficient to defeat the entire prosecution. In other words, failure to prove one essential ingredient of an offence is sufficient to find the case of the prosecution not proved beyond reasonable doubt.” Per FOLASADE AYODEJI OJO, JCA (Pp 25 – 26 Paras F – B)

FRN v. TALAL (2022) LPELR-57088(CA)

“I hold that the learned trial Judge was right when he held that the prosecution did not prove that the pretence or representation made to PW1 was false. Having found as above, it is not necessary to proceed to pronounce on the next element of the offence, which is, whether the Accused/Respondent made the pretence or representation with the intention to defraud. This is because, as stated on the onset of this Judgment, the prosecution have the onerous duty to establish every ingredient of the offence charged, otherwise they would have failed to prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt. In other words, once any one of the essential elements of the offence are not proved, it would mean that the charge has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, and the accused will be entitled to an acquittal. See Alabi v. The State (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt. 307) 511; Darlington v. FRN (2018) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1629) 152 and Kassim v. State (2017) LPELR-42586 (SC). See also Ameh v. State (2018) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1632) 99 and Aliu v. State (2015) 2 NWLR (Pt.1442) 51. Thus, in Nwaturuocha v. State (2011) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1242) 170, the Supreme Court, per Adekeye, JSC said: “In the process of establishing the guilt of an accused, the prosecution has to prove all the essential elements of an offence as contained in the charge. While discharging the responsibility of proving all the ingredients of the offence vital witnesses must be called to testify during the proceedings. Before a trial Court comes to the conclusion that an offence had been committed by an accused person, the Court must look for the ingredients of the offence and ascertain critically that acts of the accused comes within the confines of the particulars of the offence charged …” It follows therefore that, were the Court finds that an essential element of the offence charged has not been proved, it would mean that the prosecution failed to prove the essential ingredients of the offence beyond reasonable doubt and the Appellant would be entitled to an acquittal. See Ibrahim v. State (2015) LPELR-40833 (SC); Okoro v. State (1988) 5 NWLR (Pt. 94) 255 and Shehu v. State (2010) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1195) 112. I therefore hold that, for failing to prove that the pretence or representation made to the Accused/Respondent was false, an essential ingredient of the offence charged has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.” Per HARUNA SIMON TSAMMANI, JCA (Pp 31 – 33 Paras B – B)

Ingredients of the offence of Armed Robbery

MABA v. STATE (2020) LPELR-52017(SC)

“All the ingredients of the offence charged must be established or proved in order to obtain a conviction. Failure to prove any the ingredients of the offence charged, the accused is entitled to acquittal by the trial or appellate Court. In a charge of armed robbery, the prosecution is expected to prove beyond reasonable doubt, the undermentioned elements, namely- (I) that there was a robbery, (II) that the robbers or any of them was armed at the time of the robbery; and (III) that the accused person or persons was/were the armed robber(s). All the above ingredients must co-exist. In other words, if any one or more of these ingredients has not been proved; then the offence fell short of being proved beyond reasonable doubt and therefore the Court must discharge and acquit the accused person of the offence of armed robbery. See Per Sanusi, JSC in Ugboji v. State (2017) LPELR-43427 (SC).” Per UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI, JSC (Pp 36 – 37 Paras C – A)

Cont’d