CRIMINAL LAW 1.6 CONSPIRACY
Section 516 to 518 renders those who conspire… Conspiracy has been defined in Majekodunmi V R as:
An agreement between two or more persons to effect an unlawful purpose or to effect a lawful purpose by an unlawful means.
Although criminal law does not punish only intention, the law against conspiracy is done in order to prevent danger, and forestall the potential impact that can result from the execution of such agreement on the society. For example, planning a terrorist attack.
***Conspiracy is complete upon agreement.
The elements of conspiracy include;
- (may be express or implied)
- Between two or more persons
- To effect an unlawful purpose.
- AGREEMENT- okeke and another V the state. (1992) 9 nwlr (pt. 590) 246. Posu V the state (2011) 3 nwlr (pt. 1234) 393 shodiya V the state (1992) 3 nwlr (pt. 230) 457. Gbadamosi V the state (1992) 6 nwlr (pt 196) 182.
Conspiracy may be round or chain like. The conspirators need not know each other nor should the other party be proved.
***What the accused agreed to do must disclose an offence. In Othegiri V IGP it was held that the agreement did not disclose an offence.
- BETWEEN TWO OR MORE PERSONS
Some people cannot be agreed (conspired) with. For example, the director conspiring with his company. Frn V Ikpe (2005) 2 qccr 155.
Section 34 of the Criminal Code provides that husband and wife of a Christian marriage cannot be liable for conspiracy within themselves alone. R V Chrastay.
The Lagos law now makes spouses culpable for conspiracy.
Can one conspirator be convicted and the other acquitted? Yes depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. The evidence against A may be stronger than that against B. Section 5 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 in England.
Conspiracy to corrupt public morals has been found in Shaw V DPP.
- TO EXECUTE AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE:
In Nigeria, it must be established that what was agreed upon constituted an offence. Otegheri V IGP (1957) wrnlr 8.
Section 516 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to conspire to commit a felony. See also, Section 517 and 518 of the Criminal Code.
***One can be convicted for conspiracy and acquitted for the substantive offence depending on the circumstances of the case. Ogbozor V Igp (1964) II all nlr 9. Dpp V nock 1978 wlr 57, 2 all er 654.
Majekodunmi V R: The court held that a person can be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime which on a normal day, does not apply to him. In this case, the lawyer was charged with conspiring with two post office employers to tamper with postal matters. Meaning, where under the substantive law, the accused cannot be punished, he can be charged with conspiracy to commit that offence.
Section 96 of the Penal Code provides for conspiracy.
In Shaw V DPP, the accused were charged for conspiring to corrupt public morals.