The Defence of Alibi: Michael shouldn’t have been sentenced to prison

The Defence of Alibi: Michael shouldn’t have been sentenced to prison

John Kadi and Michael Lads were lucky to be among the students admitted into the University of Ibadan in the year 2010. John was in the Agricultural Engineering Department while Michael was a medical student. They looked so much alike that other students hardly believe they were not identical twin or at least, brothers from the same mother. It was therefore not uncommon for students as well as lecturers to ask one whether he knew the other. Unsurprisingly, they became good friend and walked together on campus. Unfortunately, while Michael Lads was the studious and serious type, John Kadi turned out to be very wayward. Michael tried all his best possible to encourage John to stay focused so that his stay on campus won’t be a waste but every advice of his fell on deaf ears.
On 7th of October, 2014, Michael Lads was selected alongside two other colleagues of his to represented University of Ibadan at the Doctors-in-Embryo International Competition in the United States of America. The Competition was slated for 23 October – 29 October, 2014 and Michael, his colleagues as well as the Supervising Lecturer left for the United States of America on the 21st day of October, 2014. At the end of the Competition, University of Ibadan came out victorious and their success was reported on the 30th day of October, 2016, in both international and national newspapers. The headline of one of the newspapers read “Unibadan Medical Students Set Record, wins International Medical Students Competition”. The Internet was also flooded with their success story and when Michael’s Secondary School colleague, Daniel Ayokunsi came across the news online, he exclaimed “Wow! This is fantastic. That boy that likes book. He’s my friend ooo”.
On the 10th of November, 2014, Michael was in the reading room when he noticed the noise in the hostel was becoming unbearable. He stepped out of the room to confirm what the issue was when he noticed it was some policemen attached to the Doherty Police Station that has stormed the hostel. “They’re in search of a student that stole a lecturer’s apple laptop on Monday, 27 October, 2014”, a student whispered. Within a twinkle of an eye, one of the policemen shouted “Mr. Man! Hands up!! You are under arrest!!!” {Pointing at Michael}
Michael was taken to the Police Station where he was accused of stealing an apple laptop belonging to a lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering. He was asked to make a statement against his will and he was thereafter detained in the cell. He could not even talk or argue because he had not the slightest idea of what was happening. He was charged to court on Tuesday, the 11th day of November, 2017 and upon arraignment, he was asked whether he was guilty of the offence or not. He said, crying, “I’m not guilty, I was not there. I was not even in school”. The Prosecutor shut him up that he could not be heard saying he was not there at that point and he was later sentenced to 9years imprisonment. He screamed in tears “My Pathology exammmmm…”. Highly pathetic, right? Yes.


Points to Note:
1. Alibi is a defence open to anyone alleged to have committed a criminal offence.
2. Alibi means “elsewhere” i.e that the accused was somewhere other than where the prosecution says he as at the time of the commission of the offence making it impossible for him to have committed or participated in the commission of the offence with which he is charged.
3. For Alibi to avail an accused person, the follow elements must be satisfied:
(i) He must raise the defence promptly immediately he is arrested and told the allegation against him.
(ii) He must give a detailed particularization of his whereabout on the day the offence is said to have been committed and this must include not only the people in whose company he was but also what transpired between them.
(iii) The police must have had ample time to investigate the accused person’s plea of alibi.
4. Where the accused person fails to satisfy this three elements, the defence of alibi will not avail him. For example, an accused person that raises the defence of alibi or says he was not there for the first time in court would not be allowed to plead the defence.
5. The accused person will not be punished for the failure of the police to investigate the defence of alibi so long as he has raised the defence promptly.
6. The accused person must prove that he was indeed elsewhere and the proof is on the balance of probability and not beyond reasonable doubt.
It shows that the reason why the defence of alibi could not avail Michael Lads was because he raised it for the first time in court. Had he raised it immediately he was accused of stealing, informing the police he was in the United States to represent the University at a competition, he was in company of two of his colleagues and his lecturers and they can also call the organizers of the competition to confirm, he would most likely have been discharged and acquitted.
MY LEGAL DIARY
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede

Joseph Ogunmodede
Founder, THE LEGAL DIARY
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede is a budding lawyer and founder of Nigerian-based innovative network known as THE LEGAL DIARY, an online platform for educating people on their legal rights and duties which is a unique idea that meets the pressing need for public enlightenment in Nigeria.
Since the evolution of THE LEGAL DIARY in January, 2017, he has consistently updated his audience with various legal stories and legal opinions posted on a weekly basis. He has also offered several pieces of advice and legal opinions to a number of clients both online and physically.
He was born in Ogun State, Nigeria, and holds Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Degree from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State where he was awarded a First Class (Honours). He is currently an Intern at B. O. Ogunmodede & Co, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

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