DAVID OMOTOLA V THE STATE
In the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Friday, March 6, 2009
Case Number: SC. 69/2008
DAHIRU MUSDAPHER, JUSTICE SUPREME COURT
GEORGE ADESOLA OGUNTADE, JSC (Lead Judgment), JUSTICE SUPREME COURT
WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN,JSC, JUSTICE SUPREME COURT
IKECHI FRANCIS OGBUAGU, JSC, JUSTICE SUPREME COURT
JAMES OGENYI OGEBE, JSC, JUSTICE SUPREME COURT
1. DAVID OMOTOLA2. TIMOTHY BENSON3.AYODELE AYINDE4.AKEEM ADEBAYO5. ADEMOLA APANISILE
- A. OGUNTADE, JSC.
(Delivering the Judgement of the Court):
Thirteen accused persons including the five appellants were arraigned before the High Court, Ado-Ekiti for conspiracy and murder of one Chief Olajide Esan on 18th June, 1999 at Ikoro-Ekiti in Ekiti State of Nigeria. Before the trial commenced, two of the accused persons had died,
The accused persons were tried by Kowe J. The prosecution called 24 witnesses in all. Some of the accused persons testified in their own defence and called witnesses. On 12-01-05, the trial judge delivered judgment. The 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th accused persons were discharged and acquitted. The 1st, 6th, 7th and 10th accused persons were found guilty of the offences of conspiracy to murder and murder of Chief Olajide Esan on 18/6/99. Each was sentenced to death. The 4th accused was found guilty on the first count of conspiracy to murder but not guilty of murder and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.
Each of the accused persons who were found guilty including the 4th accused was dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court. Each brought an appeal before the Court of Appeal, Ilorin (hereinafter referred to as ‘the court below’). On 10-12-07, the court below in its judgment dismissed the appeal of each of the appellants and affirmed the conviction and sentence imposed by the trial judge. The appellants have come on a final appeal before this Court. The 1st and 2nd appellants jointly retained one counsel who filed a brief for them while each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th appellants retained a separate counsel. This has imposed the necessity to consider serially each of the appellant’s brief filed by the different counsel.
In the appellants’ brief filed by counsel for the 1st and 2nd appellants (who were respectively the 1st and 6th accused persons before the trial court), the issues for determination in the appeal were stated to be the following:
“ 1. Whether the Court of Appeal was not in error in pronouncing upon the remote and immediate causes of the murder of the deceased before considering the issues submitted for its determi-nation and whether the approach of the Court of Appeal has not occasioned miscarriage of justice on the appellants.
- Whether the Court of Appeal was not in error in dismissing the defence of alibi raised by the appellants.
- Whether the Court of Appeal was not in error in affirming the conviction of the appellants thereby failing to apply to the appellants’ benefit favourable available evidence on record and in placing reliance on the evidence of tainted witnesses called by the prosecution.
- Whether the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the conviction of the appellants on weak circumstantial and contradictory evidence adduced by the prosecution.
- Whether the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the conviction of the appellants when their guilt was not proved beyond reasonable doubt and the issue of their identification was riddled with so much irregularities.”
The respondent’s counsel in his brief adopted the five issues for determination as formulated by the appellants’ counsel.
It is desirable, for an appreciation of the facts as discussed in this judgment to expose fully the nature of the events or history leading to the murder of the deceased Chief Olajide Esan. Necessarily, the preamble as discussed relates to all the appellants in this appeal and not just the 1st and 2nd. The case of the prosecution was that nearly all the accused persons in the case were residents of a town called Ikoro-Ekiti or who had something to do with the said town. Both the 1st appellant and the deceased were well-known personalities in the town and it would seem that each had a respectable followership in relation to two distinct issues which caused a schism between them. The Oba of Ikoro-Ekiti died. There was the need to appoint a successor. The 1st appellant and the deceased supported rival candidates. This also led to a civil suit instituted by the deceased against the 1st appellant for libel. The deceased, a lawyer, had judgment in his favour for N55,000.00 as damages for libel against the 1st appellant. Another cause of disagreement arose out of the desire of the deceased to set up a road transport union with the object of reducing the transport fares payable by the commuters in Ikoro-Ekiti who regularly travelled to adjoining towns. The 1st appellant was the head of another union which had regulated transportation fares in Ikoro-Ekiti which fares the deceased considered excessive and exploitative. The deceased got some people around himself to launch the union on 14-6-1999. It was given in evidence that the 1st appellant and his group resisted the attempt by the deceased to set up what was considered a rival union. Bonfires were lit on the highway leading to the township. A new launching fixed for 14-06-1999 was in the process aborted. A new date was fixed for 18/6/1999. There was evidence before the trial court that the 1st appellant’s group openly said that the deceased would not live to take part in the launching fixed for 18/6/1999. It turned out that indeed, the deceased was murdered in the night of 17th – 18th June, 1999 only a few hours before the scheduled launching.
Now, to the first of the issues raised by counsel. Was the court below in error to have first broadly stated the background facts on the nature of the case against the appellants before
considering the issues for determination in the appeal before it? The appellants’ counsel has argued that the court below had virtually pre-accepted the facts relied upon by the prosecution at the trial court before considering the case of the appellants in the appeal. It was submitted that this approach resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
A perusal of the lead judgment of Agube J.C.A. at the court below shows that the learned Justice first reviewed the nature of the rancorous situation that existed between the 1st appellant and the deceased before considering the issues for determination in the appeal. I do not think that this was a wrong approach in the writing of a judgment. It is in my humble view a good approach to preface the consideration of issues with an explanation of the matters which led to the occurrence or dispute over which the court is called upon to adjudicate. This enables a reader of the judgment to understand the issues as discussed later in the judgment. A judgment may appear abstract and unintelligible to a reader who had not previously known the antecedents of a matter being considered. An exposition of the background facts leading to a dispute ought not to harm the case of any of the parties unless the court in such exposition demonstrates an acceptance or rejection of the defence or the prosecution’s case. The court below in this case had opened its judgment by stating thus:
“Before delving into arguments of counsel and the resolution of the issues formulated, it is only pertinent to give a resume of the facts of the case. As can be gleaned from the evidence which the trial court accepted in relation to the five appellants in this appeal, the deceased, a seventy-six year old legal practitioner of forty-two years post-call was before he met his gruesome death and at all times material to this case, the Chief Sakoro or head of Kingmakers in Ikoro-Ekiti and second only in rank to the Olukoro of Ikoro (otherwise the Oba of Ikoro)”
As made clear in the above passage of the judgment of the court below, the learned Justice of the court below who wrote the lead only opened its judgment by highlighting or restating the facts which the trial court had accepted. I do not see how the statement could be considered as injurious to the interest of the appellants as would make it amount to a miscarriage of justice. It seems to me that the manner in which a judgment is to be written cannot be made universal to judges. Each judge has his own style and each case often calls for an approach considered most useful to make the particular judgment good enough for the occasion. The important thing is that all the known elements in a good judgment must be incorporated. In this connection I gratefully adopt the observation of Akintan J.S.C. in Ogba v. Onwuzo  14 NWLR (Pt.945) 331 at 334-335 where he said:
“Judgment writing is an art by itself in which every individual has his own peculiar style and method. All that a good judgment requires is that it must contain some well-known constituent parts. Thus some of the constituent parts which a good judgment must contain in case of a trial court include: (1) the issues or questions to be decided in the case; (2) the essential facts of the case of each party and the evidence led in support; (3) the resolution of the issues of fact and law raised in the case; (4) the conclusion or general inference drawn from the facts and the law as resolved; and (5) the verdict and orders made by the court. See Oro v. Falade  5 NWLR (Pt. 396) 385 at 407-408; Mogaji v. Odofin  4 SC 9; Ojogbue v. Nnubia  1ANLR (Pt.2) 226; and Olomosola v. Oloriawo  2 NWLR (Pt. 750) 113 at 125.”
The result of the above is that issue 1 must be and is decided against the 1st and 2nd appellants.
The 2nd issue is a complaint by the 1st and 2nd appellants that the defence of alibi raised by them was wrongly rejected by the two courts below. The record of court clearly reveal that the appellants raised the defence of alibi. Appellants’ counsel has argued that the court below erred by failing to hold that the appellants’ defence of alibi ought to have succeeded having regard to the fact that there was evidence before the trial court to sustain the defence.
In his statement to the police, exhibit ‘L’ on 21-6-99, the first appellant had said:
“On the night of 17/6/99,1 was in my house at Ikoro-Ekiti but none of the following (1) Hakeem Adebayo (m) and (2) Ayodele Ayinde (M) (3) Akoo Benson (m) came to me in my house for any meeting.”
In his evidence in court under oath, the 1st appellant said that he was in his house from 7p.m. on 17/6/99 to 6.00a.m. on 18/9/99. The 1st appellant’s wife and son testified respectively as D.W.3 and D.W.4. Each gave evidence in support of the alibi raised by the 1st appellant. The trial court in its judgment at pages 387-388 of the record said concerning the defence of alibi:
“The plea of alibi put up by the 1st accused person will not avail him. He merely stated in his statement to the police that he was in his house at Ikoro-Ekiti on the night of 17/6/99 without giving the details of his whereabouts. He was not definite as to the time, place and persons who knew about his whereabouts. It was when he was giving evidence that he said that he was in his house between 7p.m. on 17/6/99 and 6a.m. on 18/6/99 with members of his family.
The defence of alibi is not readily conceded with levity to an accused person because when properly established it has the far-reaching finality of exculpating the accused from complete criminal responsibility. To take advantage of this defence the 1st accused must give a detailed particularization of his whereabouts on the day the crime was committed. This will include not just the specific place where he was but additionally the people in whose company he was and what, if any, transpired at the said tune and place. Such comprehensive information furnished by the accused must, unquestionably, be capable of investigation by the police. Such defence must be timeously brought to the attention of the police preferably in the statement of the accused in order to afford the police an ample time to carry out their investigation. For the 1st accused person to raise the defence while testifying at his trial is to deliberately deny the police its right and duty to investigate the defence. See Njiokuemeni v. The State (2001) 14 WRN 96 at 103; Yanor v. The State (1965) NMLR 337 at 341 – 342; Isong Akpan Udoebre v. The State (2001) 6 NSCQR (Pt. 11) 755 at 766-767.
The plea of defence of alibi by the 1st accused in his statement to the police (exhibit L) that on the night of 17/6/99 he was in his house at Ikoro-Ekiti without more is porous and vague. What is the police expected to investigate in that plea of the 1st accused? He did not mention the location of his house, the names of who were with him, the time he was in his house. It is trite that the police are not expected to go on wild goose chase in order to investigate an alibi put forward by an accused person. It is my believe (sic) that the 1st accused did not discharge the evidential burden that is imposed on him. His defence of alibi can not avail him. See Balogun v. Attorney-General of Ogun State  2SCNJ 196 at 202; Okosi v. The State; Awopetu & Ors. v. The State.  4 WRN 57 at 70”
At pages 635-636 of the record, the court below in its reaction to the defence of alibi raised by the 1st appellant said:
“From the fore goings and taking into particular consideration the averments in Exhibit L the extra-judicial Statement of the 1st Appellant, can we say that he discharged the evidential burden placed on him so as to sustain the defence of alibi raised by him? Out rightly the 1st Appellant merely said that he was in his house on the night of the 17th of June, 1999. He did not state sufficient particulars as to his whereabouts at the time of the commission of the offence, the name(s) of the person(s) who were with him and could testify to his being there at the time the crime was allegedly committed and even the time they were together. This non-particularization of the alibi fell short of the requirements of the law as laid down in the long line of cases decided by the Supreme Court that it is not enough to raise the defence of alibi at large but that the Accused must go further to furnish adequate particulars which would assist the police to make meaningful investigation of the alibi.
In the instant case the 1st Appellant never gave a lead as to the specific address(es) of the place(s) or persons to contact and the relevant period he was away from the scene of crime This he should have done at the earliest opportunity when the facts of the case were still – very fresh in his memory. Surely, it was not enough for him to simply say he was in his house at Ikoro-Ekiti on the night of 17th June 1999. See the dictum of Uwaifo JSC in Balogun v. A.G. Ogun State (2002) 4M. J.S.C. 45 at 59.. As at the time he gave evidence in Court along with the DW3 an DW4 where the deficiency in his alibi was to be remedied, it became too late for the police to have investigated the alibi. As Uwaifo JSC in Balogun v. A.G. Ogun State (supra) succinctly put it”
‘it seems to me that the police would not be allowed to go on a wild goose chase.’ at Ikoro-Ekiti to ferret out particulars of the whereabouts of the 1st Appellant, the persons
who were with him and the time he was wherever he purported to have been during the Commission of the offence. See Njoven ‘s case (supra) and Obiode v. The State (1970) 1 All NLR 35.”
It seems to me that the two courts below were in error in the peremptory manner they dismissed the defence of alibi put up by the 1st appellant. Certainly the 1st appellant gave sufficient information as to his whereabouts at the time the deceased was murdered. It was one thing for the trial court to reject the evidence called in support of the alibi raised as unbelievable and quite another to say that the 1st appellant did not give the details of his movements. The 1st appellant had not been told the specific time the deceased was killed in the night of 17/6/99, he could not have been any more specific than state that he was in his house in the night of 17/6/99. The reasoning of the trial court that the 1st appellant did not state his address is incorrect. The 1st appellant’s address was clearly stated on exhibit ‘L’ as No. 88, Mogaile Street, Ikoro-Ekiti.
The law on the defence of alibi has been stated by this Court in a number of cases. One of them is Arabamen v. The State  4 SC.30 at 35 where Lewis J.S.C. said:
“In our view, as we have said, though we agree the onus is on the prosecution to disprove the alibi, as the learned judge rightly stated, since we said in Adedeji v. The State SC. 324/70 (unreported) of the 19th February, 1971:
‘We think that what he was intending to say, though he might perhaps more happily phrased it, is that if an accused person wishes to put forward an alibi, it is for him to offer evidence accordingly but if he does put forward evidence, the onus is not on him to satisfy the jury that the alibi on such evidence is established but for the prosecution to disprove the alibi. We must emphasize that there is no onus on the
accused to satisfy the jury on the alibi once he has put forward evidence which might establish it. (cf. R v. Johnson  1 WLR 1478 and Yanor v. The State  N.M.L.R. 337’”
One of the ways by which the prosecution may disprove an alibi is to call evidence against it which is cogent, substantial and credible. The fact that an accused has raised an alibi by his evidence or that of his witnesses does not imply that the alibi must be accepted by a court. If the evidence called by the prosecution is credible, strong and compelling, the court may reject the defence of alibi. In Fatoyinbo v. Attorney-General, Western Nigeria  W.N.L.R. 4 this Court by Coker JSC. observed:
“…………………. Where a defence of alibi is suggested or timeously put forward by an accused person, the onus resting on the prosecution is no more than that of adducing as much evidence as, if accepted, would demolish the suggestion or inference that the accused person was not available at the scene of crime at the material time and satisfy the court or jury of the contrary. Admittedly, where such a defence is put forward in such a manner and at such a time as to enjoin on the prosecution the duty of investigating it, a failure to do so may cast some doubts upon the probability of the case for the pro-secution. That does not warrant nor justify the suggestion that the prosecution specifically has to rebut in a particular way the defence of alibi. In the present case, the evidence of the third prosecution witness fixes the appellant at the scene where the deceased was murdered. That evidence was accepted by the learned trial judge and though his statement to the police was produced, the appellant himself gave no evidence in support of it or other wise and called no witnesses. It is clear that on the totality of the evidence before the court and accepted by it, the prosecution had established that the suggestion in the
state-ment of the appellant that he was elsewhere on the day and time of the crime was incredible.”
In this case, the trial judge at page 388 of the record in his judgment said:
“I do not believe the evidence of the 1st accused and his witnesses that he was in his house from the evening of 17/6/99 till the morning of 18/6/99. The alibi of Ist accused will not avail him.
I believe the evidence of P.W.7 that he heard the 1st accused talking about the launching of Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria. He said that he was conversant and close with the 1st accused who spoke at the scene of crime. P.W.7 evidence was not challenged nor contradicted by the defence. There is therefore no reason to doubt his evidence.
There is evidence that the 1st accused person held a meeting with some people in April 1999 where he boasted that the deceased would be no more within the next six months vide the evidence of P.W.2 He made that statement in April 1999 when P.W.2 and others went to appeal to him to desist from fomenting trouble on the issue of Olukoro chieftaincy. P.W.3 testified that on 17/6/99 at about 8.30p.m. he saw the 4th and 7th accused persons coming out of the house of the 1st accused and that the 4th accused told him that the launching of a rival drivers Union (Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria) slated for 18/6/99 would not take place because something would happen between the night of 17/6/99 and morning of 18/8/99 that would prevent the launching. P.W.3 added that that was why the 1st accused was at Ikoro-Ekiti that day. The 4th P.W. said that he was with the deceased in the evening of 17/6/99 when P.W.3 narrated to the deceased what the 4th accused told him about the plan of the 1st accused to prevent the launching of the rival drivers Union by overt acts between the night of 17/6/99 and morning of 18/6/99. P.W.3 and P.W.5 said that they saw
the 1st accused and other accused persons at the spot where members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers blockaded and made bonfire on the road leading to Ikoro township on 14/6/99. P.W. 13 said that Ikoro Youth Movement were holding meetings in the house of 1st accused to discuss Olukoro chieftaincy matter regularly.”
When a court has rejected a piece of evidence as incredible, it has no evidential value of any kind. It seems to me that the trial court having rejected as incredible the evidence called by the 1st appellant in support of the defence of alibi which he raised, it is no longer open to defence counsel to argue that there was evidence in support of the defence. It is my view that the defence of alibi raised by the 1st appellant was properly rejected by the courts below, the evidence called in support of it having been found incredible.
The 2nd appellant also raised the defence of alibi. The trial court however rejected it in these words at pages 393-394 of the record:
“The 6th accused person pleaded alibi which was investigated by the police. P.W.20 and P.W.21 who investigated the alibi testified that they visited Area H Ogudu/Ojota Police Station Lagos and confirmed that the 6th accused was there and left 12 noon on 17/6/99. But the 6th Accused and his wife (D.W.9) testified that they returned to the Police Station at 5p.m. on 17/6/99 and left the place at 8p.m. same day for their house No. 35 Alhaja Abass Ogudu Lagos where they slept till the morning of 18/6/99. I do not believe the evidence of the 6th accused and his wife that they went back to Area H Ogudu/Ojota Police Station at 5p.m. on 17/6/99 and returned home at 8p.m. that day. If it were so the police at Area H Ogudu/Ojota Police Station would have told P.W.20 and P.W.21 who investigated the alibi that the Accused left the Police Station at 8p.m. on 17/6/99. I believe the evidence of P.W.20 and P.W.21 that the 6th accused left the Area H Ogudu/Ojota Police Station at 12noon on 17/6/99. I believe the evidence of P.W.7 that he saw the 6h accused at the scene
of crime and identified him at the identification parade conducted at the Police Station Ado-Ekiti later. I believe the evidence of P.W. 11 that the deceased shouted the appellation of the 6th accused ‘Akoo Akoo’ when he was being attached (sic) by the murderers. P.W.7 also testified that he saw the 6th Accused at the scene of crime. He identified the 6th Accused at an identification parade. He was able to recognize the 6th Accused person because the 10th accused person lit a chargeable lamp which illuminated the scene. There is no dispute on the identity and identification of the 6th accused. The identification parade was not defective but was properly conducted. There was no objection or evidence that those with whom the 6th Accused was lined up were not of similar physical stature with him. There was no objection or evidence of the 6th accused ever been pointed to by the 7th P.W. at the parade. It was his counsel who, in his submission was trying to impute what was not brought up in evidence. P.W.7 did not testify that when she wanted to point to another person police disallowed her. What she said was that she identified the 6th accused person amongst a group of people lined up for identification parade. There was no dispute about the identity and identification of the 6th accused by P.W.7. Her evidence is enough corroboration of the evidence of P.W.20 and P.W.21 that the 6th Accused left Area H Ogudu/Ojoto Police Station at 12 noon ‘on 17/6/99. See Okosi v. State  1NWLR (Pt. 100) 642 at 644. It is possible for the 6th accused to travel to Ikoro after he left Ogudu/Ojota Police Station at 12 noon on 17/6/99.”
The reason why the trial court rejected the 2nd appellant’s evidence in support of the alibi he raised is quite manifest in the passage from the judgment’ reproduced above. I think that the court below was right to affirm the finding of fact made by the trial court. At pages 627 – 628 of the record, the court below held:
“However, if in spite of the evidence of alibi the evidence of the prosecution is shown to be stronger than the alibi proffered by the accused as a defence, and such evidence still fixes the accused at the scene of crime then the alibi can be appropriately
rejected. See Adetola & Ors. v. The State  4 NWLR (Pt.233) 267 at 274 parasD-E where Omo JSC held:
‘As against this pleas (of alibi) is the visual identification evidence of the P.W.I and P.W.3 which the Court believed, and which therefore effectively destroyed 1st appellant’s attempt at pleading an alibi, vide Njovens v. The State  S. C. 17; Madagawa v. The State  5 NWLR (Pt.92) 60 (74).
In Ukwunnenyi & Anor. v. The State  3 N.S. C. C. 44 at Held 7; and also Mathew Agu v. The State  2 N. S. C. C. 1195 it was held that ‘when the prosecution produces evidence which the Court accepts, fixing the Accused with presence at the scene of crime that effectively destroys the alibi?
From the totality of the evidence elicited by the prose-cution and the Accused/Appellant the Court accepted the testi-monies of the witnesses for the prosecution as having fixed the – 2nd Appellant at the scene of crime on that day of the incident of the murder of Chief Olajide Esan.
Following the dictum of Nnaemeka-Agu JSC in Esangbedo ‘s case (supra) and Omo JSC in Adetola ‘s case, the trial Judge considered the alibi for whatever it was worth and found out rightly in my view that it was possible for the 6th Accused to have left Lagos to Ikoro after leaving Area H Ogudu/Ojota Police Station at 12.00 noon having believed – the stronger evidence of the prosecution witnesses. Accordingly the alibi was rightly dismissed.”
It is my view that the evidence of alibi called by the 2nd appellant was properly rejected by both courts below.
I intend to consider together issues 3, 4 and 5 raised by the 1st and 2nd appellants’ counsel. Under these issues, appellants’ counsel contends that the evidence called by the prosecution when viewed as to its quality and quantity was not sufficient to establish the guilt of the 1st and 2nd appellants beyond reasonable doubt. Counsel also contends that the evidence given by D.W.2 clearly shows that the evidence given by P.Ws. 7, 10 and 11 was influenced or teleguided by some persons who had a score to settle with the appellants. It was further submitted that the circumstantial evidence upon which the trial court and the court below relied did not irresistibly point to the guilt of the appellants. It was finally submitted that the two courts below did not take into account the evidence that some night marauders or armed robbers had invaded Ikoro-Ekiti town in the night of 17/18 June, 1999.
Appellants’ counsel made a great play of the fact that P.W.s7, 10 and 11 were tainted witnesses whose evidence for the prosecution ought to have been approached with circumspection. Were they tainted Witnesses? I think not. In Adetola v. The State  4 NWLR (Pt.235) 267 at 273, the Court per Omo JSC considered the issue when a witness may be regarded as a tainted one, He said:
“A tainted witness has been described as a witness who is either an accomplice or who by the evidence he gives may and could be regarded as ‘having some purpose of his own to serve’ (1) The State v. Dominic Okolo & Ors. 2 S.C. 73, 82;  1 AllN.L.R. 466, 474; (2) Isholay. The State  9-10 S.C. 81, 100; (3)Mbonuy. The State  3 NWLR (Pt.84) 615. The Supreme Court has held that the evidence of such a witness should be treated with considerable caution and be examined with a tooth comb”
It was undisputed that P.W.s, 10 and 11 are the children of the deceased. But did that fact alone make them tainted witnesses? I do not think so. Every citizen has the duty to come forward and offer assistance in the diligent detection and-prosecution of crime. Their blood relationship with the victim of crime may constitute an additional incentive to come forward to testify in a court case. But that in my view cannot be regarded as a basis to describe their evidence as untrue, biased or tainted. I am unable to accept the submission that the evidence of P.Ws. 7, 10 and 11 was lacking in the requisite quality and objectivity just for the reason that they were the children of the deceased. It would have served the interests of the appellants better if counsel concentrated in showing that they did not observe what they claimed to have witnessed or that their evidence in some way was incredible. Asking that their evidence be rejected as tainted witnesses just because they were the children of the deceased is in my view unhelpful.
The appellants’ counsel also submitted that the circumstantial evidence available did not lead irresistibly to the inference that the appellants committed the offence brought against them. The nature of circumstantial evidence and its reliability in criminal cases have been considered by this court on several occasions. In Ukorah v. State  4 S.C. Ill at 115-116, this Court per Idigbe J.S.C. observed:
‘“Circumstantial evidence is as good as, sometimes better than, any other sort of evidence, and what is meant by it is that there is a number of circumstances which are accepted so as to make a complete and unbroken chain of evidence. If that is established to the satisfaction of the jury they may well and properly act upon such circumstantial evidence
(Humphrey, J., in Rex v. Chumg and Miao, cited in Wills on Circumstantial Evidence, Seventh Edition (1936) p.324). And, again, the learned author of Wills on
Circumstantial Evidence on t