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INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE
FEDERAL SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
24TH OCTOBER, 1957.
BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS
SIR STAFFORD FOSTER-SUTTON, F.C.J. (Presided and Read the Judgment of the Court)
M.C. NAGEON DE LESTANG, F.J.
MYLES JOHN ABBOTT, F.J.
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE -Evidence of an accomplice – Corroboration – What amounts to.
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – EVIDENCE – Evidence of an accomplice – Need for corroboration -What amounts to.
R.A. Fani-Kayode -for the Appellant.
R.N. Alcock- for the Respondent.
FOSTER-SUTTON, F.C.J. (Delivering the Judgment of the Court):
This appellant was charged with the theft of a quantity of mineral concentrate the property of A.T.M.N. Ltd. He was convicted by the learned Magistrate who tried the case, and an appeal to the High Court, Northern Region, was dismissed.
Mr Kayode who appeared for the appellant before us argued strongly that the only evidence against the appellant was that of an accomplice, and that there was no evidence in corroboration tending to connect the appellant with the theft.
In our view there is substance in his submission. It is true that the learned Magistrate after warning himself that the witness in question, one Gombe, was an accomplice went on to say “I am quite satisfied that 2nd Prosecution Witness Gombe did tell the truth in his evidence and that he did accompany 1st accused (appellant) to what he called Gana Baba to steal mineral,” but he then proceeded to treat the fact that there was a marked similarity between the mineral pointed out by the accomplice as having been stolen from the workings in question, and a sample taken from the workings, as corroboration of the accomplice’s evidence tending to implicate the appellant with the theft.
Although this evidence may show that a theft of the mineral in question had been committed we are unable to agree that it amounts to corroboration in law, as it does not implicate the appellant in the actual theft.
(See The King v. Baskervill, 12 Cr. App. R.91. Nor do we think that the vague connection of the appellant with the premises in which the stolen mineral was found sufficiently fills the gap in the prosecution’s case.
For these reasons we are of the opinion that it would be unsafe to allow this conviction to stand. The appeal is accordingly allowed, the verdict and sentence of the Court below are set aside, and we direct that a verdict and judgment of acquittal be entered.
DE LESTANG, F.J.: I concur.
ABBOTT, F.J.: I concur.