Court Of Appeal – Lagos Division
Legalpedia Electronic Citation: LERCA/L/971C/2008
Areas Of Law: Criminal Law, Murder
Summary Of Facts
The Appellant as the Accused person was charged before a High Court of Lagos State holden at Ikeja on a sole count of murder of one Corporal Agboola Oyeniran at Ipaja Lagos State. Contrary to section 319 (1) of the criminal code law of Lagos State. Upon arraignment the Appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge and the case proceeded to hearing. The Prosecutor called five Witnesses and tendered twelve exhibits while the Appellant neither testified on its own behalf without calling any Witness nor tender any exhibit. In his defence, the Appellant had proffered the defence of accidental discharge and self defence. At the conclusion of the trial, the Lower Court found the Appellant guilty as charged. He was convicted and sentenced accordingly. Dissatisfied with the judgment the Appellant appealled to the Court of Appeal.
Issues For Determination
CRIMINAL LAW – MURDER – HOW TO SECURE A CONVICTION IN A MURDER CASE
“It is well settled that in order to secure a conviction in a charge of murder, the prosecution must prove:
a. that the deceased had died
b. that the death of the deceased was caused by the accused
c. that the act or omission of the accused was intentional wtth knowledge that death or grievous bodily harm was its probable consequence,
Ubani vs. STATE (2003) 18 NWLR Pt 851 pg 224, Uguru vs. State (2002) 9 NWLR Pt 771 pg 90, Igabele vs. State (2006) 6 NWLR Pt 975 Pg 100, Adava vs. State (2006) 9 NWLR Pt 984 Pg 155.” PER NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A
PROOF OF MURDER -THE ONUS ON THE PROSECUTOR IN A MURDER CASE IS TO PROVE SAME BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
“In a murder charge, the onus is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt, not only that the act of the accused person could have caused the death of the deceased but that it actually did. Audu vs. State (2003) 7 NWLR Pt 820 Pg 516 Uguru vs. State (supra).” PER NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A
CAUSE OF DEATH IN A MURDER CASE- THAT DEATH RESULTED FROM THE ACT OF THE ACCUSED AND LED TO DEATH OF THE DECEASED MUST BE PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT .
“It is trite that in every case, it is alleged that death resulted from the acts of an accused, a causal link between the death and the act must be established and proved beyond reasonable doubt. The cause of death must be proved see Oforlete vs. State (2000) 12 NWLR Pt 631 Pg 415, Oche vs. State (2007) 5 NWLR Pt 1027 Pg 214.” PER NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A
INTENT TO KILL- THE INTENT TO KILL CAN BE ESTABLISHED BY THE WOUND INFLICTED ON THE DECEASED BY THE ACCUSED.
“The law is settled that an intent to kill can be inferred from the nature of the wound inflicted on the deceased per Uwais CJN as he then was in the case of Orisakwe vs. The State (2004) 12 NWLR Pt 887 Pg 258 Ejelikwu vs. State (1993) 7 NWLR Pt 307 Pg 534.In the English case of Hyam vs. DPP (1974) 2 All ER Pg 43. The House of Lords held:
“An intention to cause death or grievous bodily harm is established if it is proved that the accused deliberately and intentionally did an act knowing that it was probable that it will result in death or grievous bodily harm to the victim”
Lord Hailsman commenting on this in the case of Hyam vs. DPP (supra) said: “If a man in full knowledge of danger involved without lawful excuse deliberately does that which exposes a victim to the risk of probable grievous bodily harm or death and the victim dies, the perpetrator of the crime is guilty of murder and not manslaughter to the extent as if he had actually intended the consequence to follow irrespective of whether he wishes it”See also Gamba vs. State (2001) 2 ACLR Pg 221.” PER NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A
BURDEN OF PROOF IN CRIMINAL CASES –THE BURDEN OF PROOF IN A CRIMINAL CASE LIES THROUGHOUT ON THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED IT NEVER SHIFTS
“In criminal cases the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. This burden of proof lies throughout on the prosecution to establish the guilt of the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt and it never shifts, Ani vs. State (2003) 11 NWLR Pt 830 Pg 142, Ifejirika vs. State (1999) 3 NWLR Pt 593 Pg 59, Igabele vs. State (supra).”PER NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A
ACCIDENT-MEANING OF ACCIDENT
“It is trite that a person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission which occurred independently of the exercise of his will, or for an event which occurred by accident “Accident means an event without apparent cause, unexpected, unforeseen cause of events, unintentional act, chance etc” Agbo vs. State (2004) 7 NWLR Pt.873 Pg. 546, Onyia vs. State (2006) 11 NWLR Pt.991 Pg. 267.” PER NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A
DEFENCE OF ACCIDENT- AN ACCUSED RELYING ON THE DEFENCE OF ACCIDENT MUST EXPLAIN HOW IT HAPPENDED AND BE SUBJECT TO CROSS-EXAMINATION
“An accused person seeking to rely on the defence of accident must explain how the accident occurred and be subjected to cross examination. Where he fails to testify, the law would presume that the defence is not given in evidence. Where also he fails to prove the accident by credible evidence, it is bound to fail. R v. Akerele (1941) WACA Adekunle vs. State (2006) 14 NWLR Pt 1000 Pg 717.” PER NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A
MEANING OF INTENTION TO CAUSE GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM
“See the case of Chukwunyere vs.State (2014) LPELR 23779 where Mbaba JCA quoted with approval the English case of Hyam vs. DPP (1974) 2 All ER Pg 43. The House of Lords held:
“an intention to cause death or grievous bodily harm is established if it is proved that the accused deliberately and intentionally did an act knowing that it was probable that it will result in death or grievous bodily harm to the victim”- PER NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A
Statutes Referred To
Criminal Code, Cap 32 Vol. 2 Laws of Lagos State.