Areas Of Law
APPEAL, CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE, LAW OF EVIDENCE, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, WORDS AND PHRASES
Summary Of Facts
The Appellant and one other person were tried at the High Court of Justice of Edo State, Benin Judicial Division, on a two count information for conspiracy to murder punishable under Section 324, and murder punishable under Section 319, of the Criminal Code Cap. 48, Vol II Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria, 1976 now applicable to Edo State of Nigeria. The Appellant and his co-accused were serving terms of imprisonment at the Oko Maximum Prison, Benin City, Edo State, where they were alleged to have killed the deceased Warden and flee the crime scene. They were later apprehended by the vigilante group and handed over to the police. At the conclusion of the trial, the learned trial Judge discharged and acquitted the second accused person on grounds of failure of the prosecution to prove the charges or offences against him beyond reasonable doubt while he found the Appellant guilty and sentenced him to death by hanging. Dissatisfied with the judgment and sentence of death passed on him, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal, Benin Division contending that PW2, the Medical Doctor who performed the post mortem on the deceased said that the external wound sustained by the deceased had completely healed as at the time the deceased died, also that the prosecution did not prove the elements of murder. The lower court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judgment of the trial Court after due consideration of the evidence put before it by both parties. The Appellant has further appealed to the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the court below.
Issues For Determination
FORMULATION OF ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION – PRINCIPLES GOVERNING THE FORMULATION OF ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
“Ideally, in an appeal, issues are not formulated to coincide with the number of grounds of appeal. See Nwudenyi & ors v. Aleke (1996) 4 NWLR (Pt. 449) 349.
It is better to raise an issue from a combination of grounds of appeal. The principle which governs the formulation of issues for determination is that a number of grounds of appeal could, where appropriate, be formulated into a single issue. See Labiyi v. Anretiola (1992) 10 SCNJ1 at p.2”. PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C.
REASONABLE DOUBT – MEANING OF REASONABLE DOUBT
“The answer is provided in the case of K.Gopal Redding v. State of AP AIR (1979) SC 387 wherein the Indian Supreme Court held, inter alia:
“A reasonable doubt does not mean some light, airy, insubstantial doubt that may flip through the minds of any of us about almost anything at some time or other, it does not mean a doubt begotten by sympathy out of reluctance to convict; it means a real doubt, a doubt founded upon reasons.” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C.
IDENTIFICATION EVIDENCE – INSTANCE WHEN THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE DECEASED BODY BECOMES UNNECESSARY
“It has been held severally that where the totality of the evidence of the prosecution shows consistently that the body on which a doctor performed a post mortem examination was that of the deceased, a separate witness on the issue of the deceased’s identity, though desirable, is not a necessity, SeeEnemoh v. State (1990) 4 NWLR (Pt. 145) 469; Prince will v. State (1994) 6 NLR (Pt. 353) 703 at 713 G-H.” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C.
FINDING OF FACTS – ATTITUDE OF THE APPELLATE COURT TO FINDING OF FACTS BY LOWER COURTS
“In absence of a finding that the current finding of facts is either perverse or bedeviled with error in substantive or procedural law which if not corrected will lead to a miscarriage of justice, this Court will not interfere even if the appellant had prayed the Court to do so. See Lokoyi & Anor v. Olojo (1983) 8 SC 61 at 68; Bankole v. Pelu (1991) 8 NWLR (Pt. 211) 23.” PER N. S. NGWUTA, J.S.C
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- STATUS OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT TENDERED AND ADMITTED WITHOUT OBJECTION
“This is because once a confessional statement is tendered and admitted without objection by the defence; it is good evidence and can be relied upon. The court can even utilizing it alone place a conviction without corroboration even if the appellant had retracted the making thereof. See Effiong vs. the State (1998) 59 LRCN 3961 at 3975; Gbadamosi Vs. The State (1992) 9 NWLR (Pt. 266) 465 at 480; Ikesom Vs. The State (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 110)455.” PER M. U. PETER-ODILI, J.S.C
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT- TEST TO DETERMINE THE PROBATIVE VALUE OF A RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT
“The next line of action in relation to that statement admitted even if retracted is for the court to consider the weight to attach to it and that the court does in line with the time honored test as stated in Rex v Sykes (1913) 8 CAR 233 followed subsequently by courts in Kanu vs. kings (1952) 14 WACA 30, Dawa vs. State (1980) 8-11 SC 236; The Queen vs. Obiasa (1952) 1 ALL NLE 651; Emmanuel Nwaebonyi vs. State (1994) 5 NWLR (pt.343)138 and these conditions are thus:
I. is there anything outside the confession to show that it is true?
2. Is it corroborated?
3. Are the relevant statements made in it of facts and true as far as they can be tested?
4. Was the prisoner one who had the opportunity of committing the murder?
5. Is his confession possible?
6. Is it consistent with other facts which have been ascertained and have been proved? PER M. U. PETER-ODILI, J.S.C
Statutes Referred To
Criminal Code Cap. 48, Vol II Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria, 1976
Evidence Act, 2011