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Whether a Court Can Convict a Person of an Offence He’s Not Charged With

Whether a Court Can Convict a Person of an Offence He’s Not Charged With

Whether a Court Can Convict a Person of an Offence He’s Not Charged With;

By Shuaibu Bashir Mukaddam


This write-up will examine the concept ‘conviction’ what leads to conviction and how a person will be convicted. It’ll weigh the elements that’ll lead to a successful conviction the onus of the burden of proof inter alia.

It’ll go further to review the concept of charge how a person can be charged who’s with the responsibility to charge inter alia.


What’s charge from the purview of law? Charge is governed under part 21 of the administration of criminal justice act 2015 and it connotes the meaning a charge is a formal accusation of an offence as a preliminary step to prosecution as in murder charge et. Al. also termed criminal charge. See blacks law dictionary (supra) @265 per Saulawa JCA (p43 para E-F) in the case of frn v ibori & ors 2014 LPELR-CA/B/61C/2010(2)

A person is charged when the ministry of justice brought a written accusations of all the offences they’re accusing him of this is the preliminary step in a criminal trial. After being charged the accused person takes his plea and the prosecution proceed to open their case and subsequently defence will be entered.

What’s conviction from the purview of the law? Conviction simply means the finding of guilt of an accused by the court see the case of muhammed v olawunmi (1990) NWLR (pt 133) Pg 458. A guilt of the accused is found when there’s sufficient evidence to indicate his guilt as the onus of proof in criminal cases is discharged beyond reasonable doubt by virtue of section 135(1) of the evidence act 2011 as amended 2023.


This is a question that’ll generate a lot of controversy everyone may have his opinion on it but as ministers in the temple of justice we have to go with the position of the law for there’s no place for sentiments in the law. The court held it trite and clear in the case of ZACHEOUS v. PEOPLE OF LAGOS STATE (2015) LPELR-CA/L/593/2012 where the court held that;

“…There is also no issue or grouse regarding the substitution for a lesser offence, which the lower Court is allowed to do anyway – See Nwachukwu V. The State (1986) 2 NWLR (Pt.25) 765, where the Supreme Court held that a conviction can lie in respect of a lesser offence either on a trial of the offence charged or by an accused pleading guilty to such lesser offence. So, a Court has power to convict for a lesser offence, although not charged, if it is of the view that facts proved by the Prosecution do not establish the offence charged but constitute the lesser and related offence – Ndukwu V. The State (1999) LPELR-CA/PH/96.” Per AUGIE, J.C.A. (PP. 39-40, paras. F-B)

Also in the case of OSARENKHOE v. STATE (2019) LPELR-CA/B/209C/2016PRINCIPLE the court held that;

“Going through the judgment of the learned trial Judge, it was clear that there was doubt created in the mind of the trial Court as to whether the Appellant was one of the Armed Robbers prevented a conviction for the offence of Armed Robbery as originally charged, but the learned trial Judge was convinced that there was ample evidence led to have convicted the Appellant of the offence of Receiving stolen property knowing same to have been stolen. Section 179 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Act provides: “Where a person is charged with an offence and facts are proved which reduce it to a lesser offence, he may be charged with the lesser offence although he was not charged with it.” In NWACHUKWU VS. THE STATE (1986) 2 NWLR (PT. 25) 765. The Court held that a conviction can lie in respect of a lesser offence either on a trial of the offence charged with or by the accused pleading guilty to such a lesser offence although he was not originally charged with it. In OKOBI VS. THE STATE (1984) LPELR – SC 85/1983. The Court held that Section 179 (2) of the Criminal procedure Act enables a conviction to be entered for a lesser offence which the main offence has been reduced to by the proof of facts having the effect of reducing the main offence to a lesser offence. It does not matter that the accused person so convicted should have been charged with the lesser offence initially as in the present case. It is therefore my view that despite the fact that there was insufficient evidence to convict the Appellant for Armed Robbery there was enough evidence adduced by the prosecution to convict the Appellant for receiving stolen vehicle.” Per NWOSU-IHEME, J.C.A. (Pp. 9-11, Paras. E-A).


It’s clear that the position of the law is that an accused person can be charged with an offence lesser than the one he was charged but they’re some certain conditions that is the offence charged and the one convicted have to be similar as it was held by the court in the case of ALIU v. STATE (2019) LPELR-CA/EK/49C/2018PRINCIPLE where the court held that;

“It is trite and the law as the Court found that, where the particulars, the facts and the circumstances of the original offence charged are the same or similar to the lesser offence, it could convict on the lesser offence.” Per WILLIAMS-DAWODU, J.C.A. (P. 18, Paras. D-E).

We humbly submit.


Shuaibu Bashir Mukaddam is an undergraduate student of 200l of Maryam American University Of Niger faculty of law. He is an enthusiastic reader, researcher and legal writer. His interest and vast knowledge in the legal sphere covers all aspect of the law. He’s the current executive president African law students association Nigerian Chapter.

Shuaibu Bashir Mukaddam can be contacted via: Or via LinkedIn @


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