Defence of Alibi
Alibi is a latin word that stems from the combination of two words_”alius” meaning “other” and “ibi” or “ubi” meaning “where”. In English usage, alibi literally means “elsewhere”.
Where an accused raises this defence or plea, he is simply saying he was not at the scene of crime but somewhere else at the time the offence was committed and could not have been practically present in two places at the same time. This is the most common criminal defence and has the potency of nullifying any criminal trial if properly raised. However, as potent as this defence is, many accused do not know the nitty-gritty of raising it successfully, therefore, end up in gallows, jail or a long drawn criminal prosecution. If the defence is properly raised, it is a magic that can upturn even the most dreadful criminal trial. The steps for raising the defence of alibi successfully are as follows:
1. The accused must raise the defence as soon as he is apprehended by the police. If the accused volunteers to make any statement to the police, he must state in the statement that he was not at the scene of crime when the crime was committed. Care must be taken never to raise this defence at the trial or appellate court for the first time. Although, in the exercise of the accused right of fair hearing, he can raise the defence at the trial court, even at the appellate court with leave of court for the first time, albeit, raising this defence at his trial for the first time is a belated act which will not yield any positive result because the court will merely hear the defence and sweep it under the carpet as an after-though. It will achieve no positive result for being raised at a wrong time.
2. The accused must name the exact place he was at the time the offence was committed.
3. The accused must name who was with him and who could testify for him that he was in that other place other than the scene of crime.
It must be noted that the time the accused claims he is somewhere else must agree with the time the offence was committed.
As soon as the accused complies with the three steps above, he has successfully raised the defence of alibi and the burden shifts on the prosecution to disprove it. Disproving alibi is usually by investigation or aducing cogent evidence pining the accused to the scene of crime. Where the prosecution fails to investigate the alibi, that is, the facts and the circumstances of the accused whereabouts, the alibi becomes unrebutted and creates a reasonable doubt that can vitiate the trial.
Once alibi is raised, the court has a duty to consider it. It does not matter the court does not believe the defence will avail the accused. The court must allow the accused to call his witnesses or evidence to establish his defence, otherwise, the whole trial will become a nullity for not according the accused a right of fair hearing.
Okosi vs. State(1989) 1NWLR(Pt.100) page642
Atta vs. State(2010)All FWLR (Pt. 540) 1224
Olaiya vs. State(2010)All FWLR (Pt.514)1
Abudu vs. State(1985)1 NSCC78
Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria
Ayekoloye David Bankole Esq.(LLB,BL)
Mobile: +1 (857) 277-2415