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FAILURE TO INVESTIGATE ALIBI BY POLICE MAY CREATE DOUBT AGAINST THE PROSECUTION — WHEN ALIBI IS RAISED

Dictum

I think the law is fairly settled in this field. It is the law that where an accused person has disclosed an alibi before his trial and the prosecution has taken no available steps to verity or disprove it, the court may hold that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. This is because failure by the police to investigate and check the reliability of an alibi properly and timeously put up by an accused person, would raise reasonable doubt in the mind of the court and must in an appropriate case lead to the quashing of a conviction imposed in disregard of this requirement see State v. Obinga (1965) NMLR 172: Ozaki v.. State (1990) 1 NWLR (Pt.124) 92: Onafowokan v. Stare (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt.611 538). Where however an accused person did not raise the defence of alibi before his trial, but in his evidence at the trial, the prosecution would naturally not be obliged at that late stage of the proceedings to investigate such a plea and would be entitled to rely on the evidence of its witnesses to disprove the alibi. Where the prosecution adduces sufficient, accepted and credible evidence to fix the accused at the scene of crime at the material time, the plea of alibi would logically be demolished. Even where the prosecution failed to investigate an alibi which does not necessary become fatal in every case, the trial Judge has a duty to consider the credibility of the evidence adduced by the prosecution vis-a-vis the alibi. See Fatoyinbo v.A.G. Western Nigeria (1966) NMLR4; Ntam v. State (1968i NMLR 86: Njovens v. State (1973) 1 NMLR 331. see also the recent case of Onyegbu v. The State (1995) 4 NWLR (Pt.391) 510.

— Umaru Abdullai, JCA. JIMOH ABDULLAHI & Ors. v THE STATE (1995) – CA/K/180/C/94

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THE DEFENCE OF ALIBI

The term ‘alibi’ is derivatively Latin, denoting ‘elsewhere’. It is essentially a defense predicated upon the physical impossibility of a defendant’s guilt by placing the defendant in (an entirely) different location other than the scene of the crime at the relevant point in time. Alibi invariably denotes the quality, state or condition of having been elsewhere at the material time an offence was committed.

– Saulawa, JSC. Makanjuola v. State (2021)

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WHAT ALIBI MEANS?

Alibi means the fact or state of having been elsewhere when an offence was committed. It also means, I was not present when what is complained about happened.

– M. Peter-Odili, JSC. Makanjuola v. State (2021)

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