A Lagos State High Court on Thursday acquitted a trader, Ola Samson of robbing an Indian national, Manish Batiah, of six laptops, a Nissan Almera saloon car, and jewellery valued at $2,800.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Olamide Akinkugbe, during a virtual hearing proceeding held via the Zoom Meeting app, acquitted and discharged Mr Samson of the two-count charge of conspiracy to commit robbery and armed robbery.
The judge said the prosecution team did not prove the charges against Samson beyond reasonable doubt.
The prosecution led by Yinka Adeyemi, said Mr Samson had allegedly committed the offence while armed with dangerous weapons alongside others who are now at large at 1am on April 8, 2017 at No. 16A, Daniyan Natalia St., Lekki Phase One, Lagos.
Mr Samson in his testimony during the trial, denied robbing Mr Batiah and said he was arrested by authorities after he had bought one of the complainant’s allegedly stolen phones at the Alaba International Market, Ojo, Lagos.
Mrs Akinkugbe in her judgment held that Mr Samson was not positively identified by Mr Batiah as one of the persons who robbed him.
“There is also the issue of First Defence Witness (DW1) – Samson having a receipt for the phone which was allegedly never followed up.
“The version of how the defendant came in possession of the phone is not an improbable, I hold and was not controverted under cross-examination.
“The possession of a phone is not cogent proof that the defendant stole it,” the judge said.
Justice Akinkugbe noted that the prosecution had failed to establish that the defendant was at the scene of the crime.
She said: “The prosecution has also failed to place any evidence before the court which will raise an inference whether direct or circumstantial of conspiracy to commit robbery against the defendant.
“The prosecution have failed to prove an intention of a meeting of minds of the alleged perpetuators of the alleged crime to enable it become a conspiracy and to be translated into the physical act of armed robbery.
“On the totality of the evidence before the court, I find that the prosecution has not proven the charge of conspiracy to commit robbery and armed robbery against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt.
“Ola Samson, I find you not guilty as charged and you are hereby discharged and acquitted on both counts.”
Following the judgment, the defence counsel A. O Ajayi, thanked the court for a “well-considered” judgment.
NAN reports that Mr Samson was arraigned on October 6, 2018, and had pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge of conspiracy to commit robbery and armed robbery, which contravenes Sections 297 and 299 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015.
The trial began on November23, 2018 and the defence closed its case on June 3, 2019.