Grand Master - , 10:37 am On 9 Sep 2017
Let's say A, B and C undertake a robbery on MONEY BANK INTERNATIONAL; during the robbery, A sees a beautiful lady and decides to have some fun and rapes her, C got infuriated when the bank manager did not heed his request and kills him, all along A protested to the conduct of both B and C. What would be the liability of A, B and C?
Section 8 of the Criminal Code which provides thus:
"When two or more persons form a common intention to prosecute an unlawful purpose in conjunction with one another, and in the prosecution of such purpose an offence is committed of such a nature that its commission was a probable consequence of the prosecution of such purpose, each of them is deemed to have committed the offence."
By the provision of this section; A, B, and C may be charged with Armed Robbery, Rape and Murder. It is irrelevant that it was B who committed the rape and it was C who committed the murder.
However, for section 8 to apply certain elements must be present. Let's analyse them.
THE REQUIREMENT OF THE DOCTRINE
1. THERE MUST BE A COMMON INTENTION
Common intention here refers to some agreement or conspiracy. It often difficult though not impossible to prove the existence of a common intention by direct evidence, so most times the court has to rely on inference from the conduct of the parties.
2. THE COMMON INTENTION MUST BE TO PROSECUTE AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE
Where the purpose the parties set out to accoomplish was in fact lawful and an offence was committed in process of their prosecution of that lawful purpose, section 8 will not apply to make each of the parties liable. Only the party who commits the offence will be liable.
In D.S.P Godspower Nwakwaola and anor v. The State (S.C. 244/2005), where in the course of lawful patrol, murder was committed, section 8 failed because the initial purpose (police patrol) was lawful.
3. THE OFFENCE COMMITTED MUST BE SEPERATE FROM THE UNLAWFUL PURPOSE THE SET OUT TO PROSECUTE
As stated in the example above, the unlawful purpose they set out to prosecute was Armed Robbery, but in the process the offence of Rape and Murder was committed, in this scenario, section 8 will apply.
4. THE OFFENCE COMMITTED MUST BE A PROBABLE COSEQUENCE OF THE UNLAWFUL PURPOSE THEY SET OUT TO PROSECUTE.
For example, it could be safely concluded that murder and rape is a probable consequence of Armed Robbery, but suppose the unlawful purpose they set out to prosecute initially was probably threatening a person, there would be doubts as to whether murder was a probable consequence of that.
READ FURTHER: EZEKIEL ADEKUNLE v. THE STATE (SC 66/1989).
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