DEDAYO OLADELE v. STATEJuly 30, 2021
SAMUEL MISOSONU v. THE STATEJuly 30, 2021
MAMMAN MOHAMMED V THE STATE
(2021) Legalpedia (CA) 81311
In the Court of Appeal
HOLDEN AT IBADAN
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Suite Number: CA/IB/78C/2019
JIMI OLUKAYODE BADA
UGOCHUKWU ANTHONY OGAKWU
FOLASADE AYODEJI OJO
MAMMAN MOHAMMED || THE STATE
AREA(S) OF LAW
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
SUMMARY OF FACTS
There was an altercation between the Appellant and the deceased on the 9th day of October, 2013, during which a fight ensued; in the course of which the deceased was cut on the wrist with the machete which was used during the fight. The Appellant’s assertion is that he was not the one who cut the deceased with the machete and that he was engaged in self-defence since it was the deceased that attacked him. The deceased later died on the same day from the injury he sustained, consequent upon which the Appellant was charged with manslaughter. Hence, the Appellant was arraigned before the High Court of Oyo State on a one-count charge of manslaughter. The Prosecution called witnesses in proof of the charge and tendered several exhibits, including the extra-judicial statement of one Hassan Mohammadu, who was not called as a witness, and which was admitted in evidence. The Appellant testified for himself and did not call any witness. In its judgment, the trial Court convicted the Appellant as charged and sentenced him to fifteen (15) years imprisonment with hard labour. Dissatisfied, the Appellant has appealed against same vide a Notice of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
Whether the trial Court was right in holding that the respondent proved its case beyond reasonable doubt to warrant his conviction?
“It is abecedarian Law that in our adversarial criminal justice system which is accusatorial, the Prosecution has the onus of proving the commission of the offence charged beyond reasonable doubt. See Section 135 of the Evidence Act. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not connote proof beyond all shadow of doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt also does not mean or import beyond any degree of certainty. It should be a proof that excludes all reasonable inference or assumption except that which it seeks to support. It must have clarity of proof that is readily consistent with the guilt of the accused person. Proof beyond reasonable doubt means proof of an offence with the certainty required in a criminal trial. That certainty is that the offence was committed, which is established by proving the essential ingredients of the offence, and that it is the person charged therewith that committed the Offence. See Generally Miller Vs. Minister Of Pensions (1947) 2 ALL ER 373, Bakare Vs. The State (1987) LPELR (714) 1 at 12-13, The State vs. Onyeukwu (2004) 14 NWLR (PT 893) 340 at 379-380, Adeoye vs. The State (2011) LPELR (9091) 1 and Onianwa vs. The State (2015) LPELR (24517) 1 at 40-41. –
“In proving the commission of a crime, three ways or methods are available to the Prosecution. These are: 1. By reliance on a confessional statement of an accused person voluntarily made; 2. By circumstantial evidence; and 3. By the evidence of eyewitnesses. See Emeka vs. The State (2001) 32 WRN 37 at 49, Okudo vs. The State (2011) 3 NWLR (PT 1234) 209 at 236 and Olaoye vs. The State (2018) LPELR (43601) 1 at 13”. –
“The Appellant was charged and convicted for manslaughter. Manslaughter is an unintentional killing of a human being. Such a killing is not pre-meditated but accidental, in the sense that it was not intentional. See Ejeka vs. The State (2003) LPELR (1061) 1 at 16, Popoola vs. The State (2018) LPELR (43853) 1 at 21 and John vs. The State (2017) LPELR (48039) 1 at 51-52.
“In order to establish the offence of manslaughter, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was the act of the accused person, which was unlawful, that caused the death of the deceased. A causal link must be established and proved by the Prosecution between the act of the accused person and the death of the deceased. Put differently, to secure conviction for the offence of manslaughter under Section 317 of the Criminal Code of Oyo State, all that the prosecution needs to prove is the unintended and unlawful act of the accused person which harmed the deceased and caused his death: Shosimbo vs. The State (1974) 10 SC 69 or (1974) LPELR (3066) 1 at 13, Famakinwa vs. The State (2016) LPELR (40104) 1 (SC), Nwabueze vs. The People Of Lagos State (2018) LPELR (44113) 1 at 17-18 and John vs. The State (supra) at 38-39.
“In Egbirika vs. The State (2014) 4 NWLR (PT 1398) 558, the apex Court held that for a killing to amount to manslaughter, it must have the following components: 1. Be unauthorized, unjustified or not excused; 2. It must have resulted from the direct or indirect act of the accused person by the unlawful act of the accused person. 3. Link the death of the deceased to the act of the accused person. See also Adesina vs. The People Of Lagos State (2019) LPELR (46403) 1 at 21-23 and Maiyaki vs. The State (2008) 15 NWLR (PT 1109) 173. –
“In holding that the offence charged was proved beyond reasonable doubt, the lower Court relied on the Appellant’s confessional statements, Exhibits C and G, which after applying the requisite tests to ascertain the veracity of the confession, it relied on the testimony of the PW2 and PW4 (the IPOs) as well as the testimony of the Appellant himself under cross examination to hold that the confession was possible. By all odds, there is no evidence stronger than a person’s own admission or confession. The confessional statement made by an accused person is potent evidence in the hand of a prosecutor for proving a charge. It is the best and safest evidence on which to convict. See Adebayo vs. A.G Ogun State (2008) 7 NWLR (PT 1085) 201 at 221, Usman vs. The State (2011) 3 NWLR (PT 1233) 1 at 11 and Oseni vs. The State (2012) 5 NWLR (PT 1293) 351 at 387. The free and voluntary confessional statement of an accused person alone is enough to sustain the conviction where such voluntary confession of guilt is direct and positive and the Court is satisfied as to its truth: Yesufu vs. The State (1976) 6 SC 167 at 173, Dibie vs. The State (2007) 9 NWLR (PT 1038) 30 at 51 and Kaza vs. The State (2008) 7 NWLR (PT 1085) 125 at 166, 194 and 195. –
“The Law is that the denial by an accused person that he did not make a statement or the retraction or resilement from the confessional statement does not render the statement inadmissible in evidence: Alarape vs. The State (2001) 14 WRN 1 At 20, Kareem Vs. FRN (2001) 49 WRN 97 At 111 and Obisi Vs. Chief Of Naval Staff (2002) 19 WRN 26 at 38-39. The accused person can still be convicted on the basis of such retracted confessional statement provided the Court first applies the test for determining the veracity or otherwise of the confessional statement by seeking any other evidence, however slight, or circumstances which make it probable that the confession is true. See Hassan vs. The State (2001) 7 SC (PT II) 85 at 93, R vs. Sykes (1913) 1 Cr. App. R. 233, Akinmoju vs. The State (2000) 4 SC (PT I) 64 at 81 and Ubierho vs. The State (2005) 7 MJSC 168 at 188-189. –
“Now, the duty of a Court faced with a retracted confessional statement is to examine the statement in the light of other credible evidence before the Court by inquiring into whether: 1. There is anything outside the confession to show that it is true. 2. It is corroborated. 3. The facts in the confession are true as far as can be tested. 4. The accused person had the opportunity of committing the offence. 5. The accused person’s confession is possible. 6. The confession is consistent with other facts ascertained and provided. See Ifeanyi vs. FRN (2018) 12 NWLR (PT 1632) 164 at 191-192 and Nwaebonyi vs. The State (1994) 5 NWLR (PT 343) 138. The legal requirement is for the Court to seek other evidence, be it slight, of circumstances which make it probable that the confession is true. –
“It is rudimentary Law that the evidence which a Court is to act upon and ascribe probative value to is legally admissible credible evidence: Onah vs. The State (1985) LPELR (2668) 1 at 14-15 and Bukola vs. The State (2017) LPELR (43747) 1 at 16. The only allusion in the evidence that the injury sustained by the deceased was tied with a piece of cloth is in Exhibit B, the extra-judicial statement of one Hassan Mohammadu. The said Hassan Mohammadu was not called as a witness. It is hornbook Law that the extra-judicial statement made by a potential witness and who was not called to testify in Court cannot be accorded any probative or evidential value. The veracity of the contents of the said Exhibit B has not been proved since the maker of the statement was not called as a witness. The statement cannot therefore be used as proof of the truth that a piece of cloth was used to tie the injury sustained by the deceased. See Adisa vs. The State (1964) LPELR (25197) 1 at 6-7, Kasa vs. The State (1994) LPELR (1671) 1 at 18, Ugbogbo vs. The State (2016) LPELR (42225) 1 at 18-23, Agbanimu vs. FRN (2018) LPELR (43924) 1 at 41-43, Paul vs. COP (2021) LPELR (52489) 1 at 93 and Afolabi vs. The State (2021) LPELR (53501) 1 at 26-27. Furthermore, the Appellant’s contention in this regard is an invitation for the Court to speculate as to whether the piece of cloth is sterile or contaminated as there is no evidence in that regard, since the maker of the said Exhibit B was not called as a witness. As rightly submitted by the Appellant, speculation has no place in a criminal trial: The State vs. Aibangbee (supra). Accordingly, there is no legally admissible, credible evidence which casts any doubt on the cause of death of the deceased which occurred on the same day that he was cut with a cutlass, a lethal weapon, while engaged in a fight with the Appellant. –
“It is settled Law that where a person is attacked with a lethal weapon and he dies on the spot or shortly afterwards, it is reasonable to infer that the injury inflicted on him caused the death. See Edoho vs. The State (2010) LPELR (1015) 1 at 18-19, Ali vs. The State (2015) LPELR (24711) 1 (SC), Ben vs. The State (2006) 16 NWLR (PT 1006) 582, Muhammad vs. The State (2017) LPELR (42098) 1 at 23-26 and Omilade vs. The State Of Lagos (2020) LPELR (51807) 1 at 22-23. –
“In splice, the evidence adduced by the Prosecution established that it was the unlawful act of the Appellant that caused the death of the deceased. This is established by the causal link of the deceased having been cut with a cutlass while fighting with the appellant and having died from the injury sustained on the same day: John Vs. The State (supra) at 38-39. It now remains to consider the Appellant’s reliance on the defence of self-defence, which if established will completely absolve and exonerate the Appellant from the offence of manslaughter”.
“Self-defence, as a defence, simply means that the accused person did the alleged act while in the process of defending either himself or some other person and that he had no premeditated intention to kill his attacker or to cause him grievous bodily harm. See Braide vs. The State (1997) LPELR (800) 1 at 13, Afosi vs. The State (2013) LPELR (20751) 1 at 37-38, Sule vs. The State (2009) 8 SCM 177 and Fulani M vs. The State (2018) LPELR (45195) 1 at 31-36.
“For a plea of self-defence to succeed, the following conditions must co-exist: 1. The accused person must be free from fault in bringing about the encounter. 2. There must be present an impending peril to life or of great bodily harm, either real or apparent as to create honest belief of an existing necessity. 3. There must be no safe or reasonable mode of escape by retreat. 4. There must have been a necessity for taking life. See Omoregie vs. The State (2008) 18 NWLR (PT 1119) 464, Odunlami vs. The Nigerian Navy (2013) LPELR (20701) 1 at 50-51, Ochani vs. The State (2017) LPELR (42352) 1 at 16-17 and Egheghe vs. The State (2020) LPELR (50552) 1 at 17-18”.- –
“Additionally, in order for self-defence to avail, there must be present an impending peril to life or of great bodily harm. From the evidence, the danger posed to the Appellant is the attack on him by the machete/cutlass-wielding deceased, which machete/cutlass, from the statement of the Appellant, Exhibit C, and his testimony in Court (page 67 of the Records), fell on the ground. The machete/cutlass having fallen on the ground, the present impending peril to life or of great bodily harm posed to the Appellant was removed. For the defence of the right to self-defence to avail, an accused person and exclude his criminal responsibility, there must be evidence showing that the accused person at the material moment was faced with imminent apprehension of death or grievous hurt from his attacker: Uwagboe vs The State (2008) 12 NWLR (PT 1102) 621 at 639, and Adeyeye vs. The State (2013) 11 NWLR (PT 1364) 47 at 70. In the instant case, the machete/cutlass which the Appellant said the deceased was using to attack him having fallen to the ground, the Appellant was no longer exposed to any present or impending peril to his life in order to have the benefit of the defence or self-defence. See The State vs. Baiyewunmi (1980) 1 NCR 183, Edoko vs. The State (2015) LPELR (24402) 1 at 30-31 and David vs. CP, Plateau State Command (2018) LPELR (44911) 1 at 5-7. –
“The Law is trite that the plea of self-defence where successfully established is a complete answer to a charge of murder or manslaughter. Whether the defence will succeed or not however depends on the facts of each case. The defence presupposes that an accused person unlawfully assaulted the other person in the course of preserving himself from death or grievous harm. ?To be entitled to the defence, an accused person must show that he was not ready to fight but that the deceased left him with no other option than to kill him to preserve his own life. See Famakinwa Vs State (2016) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1524) 538, Stephen Vs State (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 46) 978 and Uwaekweghinya Vs The State (2005) 9 NWLR (Pt. 930) 227. –
STATUTES REFERRED TO
Criminal Code, Cap. 38, Vol. II, Laws of Oyo State of Nigeria, 2000|Evidence Act, 2011|
R. A. Fasogbon, Esq. with him, Dotun Akinsanmi, Esq.For Appellant(s)|Kayode A. Babalola, Esq., (Asst. Director, Ministry of Justice, Oyo State)For Respondent(s)|