Areas of Law
APPEAL, CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE, LAW OF EVIDENCE, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE.
Summary of Facts
The Appellant was the third of the four persons charged with the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death under Section 222 of the Penal Code, before the High Court of Katsina State. During the trial, the statements of the Accused persons were tendered, and there was a challenge as to the voluntariness of the 1st – 3rd Accused persons, consequent upon which a trial within trial was held after which the court rejected the confessional statements as not being voluntarily made. At the end of the trial, the court convicted the Accused persons for the lesser offence of culpable homicide not punishable with death and thereby sentenced each one of them to ten years imprisonment, in addition of which each of them was to pay a fine of N20,000. Dissatisfied by the decision of the trial court, the Accused persons appealed to the Court of Appeal, Kaduna Judicial Division, where the appeals were dismissed and the decision of the trial court affirmed. Further displeased by the decision of the Court of Appeal, the Appellant has appealed to the Supreme Court.
Issue for Determination
CRIMINAL JUSTICE – THE TWOFOLD AIM OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
“Let me start with the twofold aim of criminal justice: that guilt shall not escape or the innocent suffer. See Berger v. US 1942 cited in US v. Nixon, President of USA 418 US 683.” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C.
INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE – THE COURT IS BOUND TO REJECT ANY EVIDENCE WHICH IS INADMISSIBLE IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE
“Even where no objection is raised to its admission, as it appears to be the case herein, the Court is bound to reject inadmissible evidence in a criminal case in the interest of justice. See Onochie v. Odogwu (2006) 2 SC (Pt. 11) 153. Where, as in this case, inadmissible evidence has been admitted the appellate Court has power to reject same and decide the case on available legal evidence. See Onochie v. Odogwu [supra).” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C.
PROOF OF A CASE – IT IS THE QUALITY OF EVIDENCE THAT MATTERS IN THE PROOF OF A CASE
“Quality and not quantity is what matters in evidence in proof of a case. See Mogaji v. Odofin (1978) 4 SC 91 at 94.” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C.
MEDICAL CERTIFICATE – WHERE THE DEATH OF AN ACCUSED PERSON OCCURRED INSTANTLY AS A RESULT OF THE ACT OF THE ACCUSED PERSON, A MEDICAL CERTIFICATE MAY BE DISPENSED WITH.
“Medical Certificate as to the cause of death may be dispensed with where death occurred instantly or almost immediately from the voluntary act of the accused. See Aiguoreghian v. The State (2004) 1 SC (Pt. 1) 65; Ihuebeka v. State (2000) 4 SC (Pt. 1) 203; Uguru v. State (2002) 9 NWLR (Pt. 771) 90.” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C.
CORPUS DELICTI IN MURDER – COMPONENTS OF CORPUS DELICTI IN MURDER
“The corpus delicti in murder has two components – death as the result and criminal agency of another as the means of death. Where there is a direct proof of the one, the other may be established by circumstantial evidence. See Advanced Law Lexicon Book 1, page 1071.” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C.
SUSPICION – SUSPICION CAN NEVER GROUND A CONVICTION OF AN ACCUSED PERSON.
“The law is that suspicion no matter how strong can never ground a conviction. See: Al- Mustapha v State (2013) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1383) 350, Ikomi v State (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt-28) 340.” PER K. B. AKAAHS, J.S.C.
CONVICTION ON CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE – BASIS UPON WHICH CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE CAN GROUND A CONVICTION
“For a conviction to be based on circumstantial evidence, such evidence must point to only one rational conclusion namely that the offence had been committed and that it was committed by the accused. In other words the circumstantial evidence must point unequivocally and irresistibly to the fact that the offence was committed by the accused person.” PER K. B. AKAAHS, J.S.C.
GUILT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON – INFERENCE OF THE GUILT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON BASED ON CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
“In order to draw the inference of the accused’s guilt based on circumstantial evidence, there must not be any other co¬existing circumstances which would weaken or destroy the inference. See: State v Edobor (1975) 9-l1SC 69, Eze v State (1976) 1 SC 125. Mohammed v State (2007) 13NWLR (Pt.1050) 186.” PER K. B. AKAAHS, J.S.C.
Statutes Referred To
Supreme Court Rules