Whether Proof of Demand for Ransom is Required in a Charge for Kidnapping?

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 CASE TITLE:  OROGBEMI v. STATE (2022) LPELR-58179(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 25TH MARCH, 2022

JUSTICES:

  • AYOBODE OLUJIMI LOKULO-SODIPE, JCA
  • HABEEB ADEWALE OLUMUYIWA ABIRU, JCA
  • YUSUF ALHAJI BASHIR, JCA

COURT DIVISION:   AKURE

PRACTICE AREA:     CRIMINAL LAW

FACTS:

​The appellant was charged at the trial Court with the offences of kidnapping and murder punishable under Section 3 of the Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law of Ondo State, 2010 and Section 316 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap 37 Laws of Ondo State, 2006, respectively. In proof of the offences the Appellant was charged with, the prosecution called 7 witnesses and tendered several exhibits. The Appellant pleaded not guilty to the offences he was charged with and testified before the trial Court as DW3. He called no other witnesses to testify in his favour.

At the close of trial and after the Defendants and prosecution addressed the trial Court, the Court in its judgment convicted the Appellant as charged.

Being dissatisfied with the decision of the trial Court, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:

The appeal was determined upon consideration of the issue thus:

“Whether or not the prosecution established the offences with which the Appellant was charged beyond reasonable doubt as required by law despite the perceived lapses the Appellant has in his brief of argument treated as separate and somehow distinct issues.”

COUNSEL SUBMISSIONS

The Learned Counsel for the Appellant submitted that the onus lies on the Respondent to prove the charges preferred against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt by establishing the actus reus and mens rea of the offences in the Information. The Learned Counsel for the Appellant further submitted that the requisite elements of the offence of kidnapping with which he was charged were not established because there was no proof of demand for ransom. It is also the contention of Learned Counsel to the Appellant that though the prosecution is at liberty to choose which witnesses to call for the purpose of establishing its case, that the failure to call material witnesses was fatal to the case of the Respondent.

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The Learned Counsel for the Respondent cited the law on the ingredients of the offence of kidnapping and submitted that the evidence it presented established beyond reasonable doubt, the actus reus and mens rea of the offence. Respondent stated that the contention of the Appellant that its failure to call a witness is immaterial to the proof of the charge against the Appellant as the position of the law is that the Respondent need not call a host of witnesses in proof of its case.

DECISION/HELD

In the final analysis, the Court dismissed the appeal.

RATIO

  1. CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – OFFENCE OF KIDNAPPING: Whether proof of demand for ransom is required in a charge for kidnapping

“The Appellant has not stated that the lower Court misapprehended the ingredients/elements of the offence of kidnapping as charged. Even though the Appellant has expressed the view that the requisite elements of the offence of kidnapping with which he was charged were not established because there was no proof of demand for ransom. It is obvious that the assertion in this regard is in total misapprehension and or improper appreciation of the provisions of the Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law which were considered by the lower Court in its judgment and which I do not see the need to reproduce. Suffice it to say that it is clear as crystal that the provisions of the law under which the Appellant was charged for kidnapping do not make the demand for the payment of ransom as the only ingredient/element the prosecution must establish to sustain or establish a charge of kidnapping thereunder. It is therefore against all sense of proper reasoning to argue that the lower Court was wrong in finding the prosecution to have proved the charge of kidnapping beyond reasonable doubt when there was no demand for ransom. The lower Court in its judgement clearly engaged in proper interpretation of the provisions of the enactment under which the Appellant was charged with kidnapping in conjunction with facts that it found as established by evidence before it in holding that the Appellant was guilty of the offence of kidnapping despite the none demand for ransom.” Per LOKULO-SODIPE, JCA.

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