Criminal Law

When Robbery Without The Use Of A Firearm Can Be Regarded As Armed Robbery


The term robbery refers to an act of taking property unlawfully, from a person or place by force or threat of force.

Conversely, armed robbery refers to an aggravated form of theft or stealing that involves the use of a lethal weapon to perpetrate violence or the threat of violence or intimidation against a victim.

Stealing is the action of or offence of taking another person’s property without permission or legal right and with an intention to permanently deprive the owner of the thing of it.

The offence of Armed Robbery is committed, in any instance where a person accused of robbery is in furtherance of the robbery armed with any offensive weapon, obnoxious substances or thing, Fire-arms, or if the person is accompanied by another person who is armed; the offence is punishable with Death. The point of note here is if you accompany a person who is armed to commit armed robbery, it does not matter whether or not you were armed, both parties are jointly and severally liable to punishment by (death) if he wounds any person either immediately before or after the time of the robbery.

More so, conspirators of armed robbery are deemed principal offenders and are punished to the exact same extent whether or not they took actual part in prosecuting and unlawful purpose or execution of the act. See section 403 (a) of the Criminal Code Act.

Attempted robbery is by the same section of the Criminal Code Act punishable with life imprisonment with or without whipping.

Conversely, the offence of robbery has a 14-year imprisonment term, attempting to commit the offence of robbery entitles the offender with not more than 20 years imprisonment and not less than 14 years imprisonment and a fine.

Now the codes, there are two codes, the Penal Code and Criminal Code, having seen the provisions of the Criminal Code.

The Penal Code Act seemed to have taken the offence of robbery and armed robbery on a lighter mode. By section 298 of the penal code Act, the punishment for robbery is may not extend to 10 years imprisonment and a fine… there are some stipulations as to the time of event; for instance, where the offence of Robbery is on the highway, within the hours of sunrise and sunset, or between sunset and sunrise, on a person who has laid down to rest in an open-air, the imprisonment term can extend to 14years. An attempt to commit robbery is punishable under section 299 of the penal code and its punishment may extend to 7 years imprisonment and a fine. Also under the penal code, an attempt to commit robbery where one voluntarily hurts another is punishable and its punishment may extend to 14 years of imprisonment and a fine.

For the offence of armed robbery, where the accused is armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon, it is punishable with life imprisonment or less and a fine.

What Is The Difference Between Robbery And Armed Robbery?

It is safe to say that robbery and Armed robbery are the same line of offences, only that one has an extra element making them different by way of substance and punishment.

While robbery is the taking or attempting to take property belonging to another by threat or force, armed robbery is the combination of stealing and robbery with the additional ingredient of the accused carrying arms in furtherance of the act.

In the case of BABALOLA.V. STATE

It was established that it does not matter if the execution of the threat of violence is practicable as long as a reasonable man in the circumstance would anticipate violence thus, robbing a person with an unloaded gun constitutes the offence of robbery and even Armed robbery.



Mr A, a car dealer, displayed a Mazda 626 car at his premises for sale. On the 13th July 2013 he received a call from Mr B the appellant who indicated an interest in buying the car. The two met at the premises where the appellant inspected the car and both parties settled the price of the car at N700,000.00. The appellant insisted on test-driving the car to which Mr A agreed and drove the car with Mr B the appellant in the passenger seat. As they were returning to the office, the appellant requested also to test-drive the car.

Mr. A agreed and exited the driver’s seat while the appellant took over. just as Mr A was about to enter the passenger’s seat, Mr B zoomed off with the car, this caused Mr A to fall and roll over on the highway, thereby sustaining injuries. He was picked up by a good Samaritan and taken to the hospital.

Mr A subsequently made a report of the incident to the DSS office, Uyo and provided the telephone number that Mr B had used to call him. The appellant (Mr B) was arrested by tracking the cell phone number and the car was recovered at Port-Harcourt where the Appellant had sold it to a car dealer with fake custom papers.

The Mr B was arraigned and charged with the offence of armed robbery contrary to section 1(1) of the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) ACT 2004, HE DENIED the charge and testified that it was one Mr C who brought the car to him for the purpose of finding a buyer. That he drove it to Port-Harcourt and sold it for N320,000. He also testified that he was paid N20,000 from the proceeds of the sale of the car and given an additional N50,000 for transport to return to Uyo, From Port-Harcourt.

At the conclusion of the trial, the learned trial judge found and held that the prosecution has proved the charge of armed robbery against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt and convicted him accordingly.

On Appeal, it was contemplated that the manner in which the appellant zoomed off with the stolen vehicle was intended to cause harm or serious injury and this proved the element of violence in order to take away and retain the car against the appellant’s will. In the final analysis, the appeal was dismissed and the judgement of the trial Court was accordingly affirmed.


It is worthy of note that robbery and armed robbery are species of stealing or theft with violence and without weapons in cases of robbery and with arms or weapons in cases of armed robbery. This is clearly because armed robbery is an aggravated form of robbery. When a culprit brings with him a deadly weapon, for instance, a gun, whether or not it is loaded, the fact remains that it is a deadly weapon. The point to note here is that if a man pushes another off a cliff in order to take his property, he need not have a deadly weapon with him, as pushing one off a cliff or a vehicle in motion is sufficient proof of his intentions to cause grievous harm, which may result in death. It is from this premise that it is possible to conclude that the majority of robbery offenses are, by definition, translated into armed robbery.


About J.K Okong

J.K. Okong is a Nigerian attorney who specializes in human rights, entertainment law, data protection, and intellectual property law. She received her law degree from the prestigious University of Calabar and studied at the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Law School. In 2021, she was admitted to the Nigerian Bar. She is an associate attorney at Lawbond Solicitors Abuja.