Legalpedia Electronic Citation: LER SC.714/2017
AREAS OF LAW:
Appeal, Criminal Law And Procedure, Law Of Evidence, Practice And Procedure
SUMMARY OF FACTS
The Accused person now Appellant was arraigned before the Ogun State High Court of Justice, on a one count charge of murder of one Kolawole Badejo, contrary to Section 316 of the Criminal Code Law of Ogun State 2006. The Appellant had a fight with the deceased and in the course of which the Appellant used knife and inflicted lethal injury on the back and left leg of the deceased. The deceased bled profusely which led him to the state of unconsciousness and was thereafter rushed to the hospital where he later died. During the trial, the Prosecution now Respondent called two witnesses and tendered five (5) exhibits in proof of its case, while the Appellant testified in his own defence without calling any witness. The trial court found the Appellant guilty as charged and sentenced him to death. The Appellant unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Appeal which affirmed his conviction and sentence by the trial court. Still dissatisfied, the Appellant has appealed to this court.
ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION
OFFENCE OF MURDER – INGREDIENTS OF THE OFFENCE OF MURDER A PROSECUTION MUST PROVE
“It ought to have been established and is a well settled law too, that in a case of murder under Section 316 of the Criminal Code, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt the underlisted ingredients of the offence; namely:
See Omini Vs The State (1999)12 NWLR (pt.630)168 or (1999)9 SC I; Aboyade V The State (1996)LPELR-45 (SC); Ogbe v The State(1992)2 NWLR (pt.222)164”.PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
BURDEN OF PROOF – ON WHO LIES THE BURDEN OF PROVING THE ELEMENT OF THE OFFENCE OF MURDER
“It must be emphasised here, that the burden of proof is always on the prosecution to prove all the aforelisted elements of the offence of murder and the standard of such proof is beyond reasonable doubt. See the cases of Frank Uwagbede v The State (2008)12 NWLR (pt.H02)621; Nwachukwu v The State(2005)4 LRCNIC 53 at 72; Bakare V The State (1987)1 NWLR (pt.52)579 at 582 & 592; Onah v The State(1985)3 NWLR (pt.12)236. See also Section 135 of Evidence Act. It is apposite to stress here too, that an accused person has no duty to prove his innocence in criminal cases. See Alabi v State (1993)7 NWLR (pt.397)511; Ariche vs State (1993)6 NWLR (Pt.302)752”. PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
PROOF OF DEATH – MODE OF PROVING DEATH IN A MURDER CASE
“It is trite law, that in a murder case, death could also be proved either through confessional statement of an accused or by circumstantial evidence”. PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
OFFENCE OF MURDER – WHETHER MEDICAL EVIDENCE IS A PRE-REQUISITE IN ESTABLISHING THE CAUSE OF DEATH IN A CASE OF MURDER
“It is trite law, that medical evidence though is desirable in establishing the cause of death in a case of murder, it is however not essential or a pre-requisite in a situation where there are facts sufficient enough to show the cause of death to the satisfaction of the court. See Lori V State (supra) Uwaegbe Erewoh v The State (1990)NWLR (pt,145)469 or (1990)7 SC (pt. II) or (1990)LELR-114(SC). Medical evidence can in fact be dispensed with where evidence shows that the victim died in circumstances which leave no doubt as to the manner or as to the cause of the death of the deceased victim. See Deminabo Prince will v The State (1994)6 NWLR (pt.353)703”. PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
PROOF OF CAUSE OF DEATH -INSTANCES WHERE MEDICAL EVIDENCE IS NOT NECESSARY IN PROVING CAUSE OF DEATH
“The law is trite that where the death is instantaneous or almost so, then medical evidence ceases to be of any practical or legal requirement or necessity. See Ben V State(2006)16 NWLR (pt.1006]582; Essien v State (1993)6 NWLR (pt.290)303; Akpa v State (2008)14 NWLR (pt.l06)72”. PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
UNCHALLENGED EVIDENCE – ATTITUDE OF COURTS TO UNCHALLENGED EVIDENCE
“In this instant case evidence abounds that the deceased died few hours after he was stabbed by the appellant and that piece of evidence was never challenged, controverted or contradicted at the trial. See Uyo v Bendel State (1968)1 NWLR (pt.17)418; See also Obogo v The State (1972)SC 39 where this court held that a court can infer the cause of death from, the evidence and circumstances of the case.” PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
PROOF OF CAUSE OF DEATH – WHETHER THE INFLICTION OF SERIOUS AND SEVERE WOUND CAN RESULT TO DEATH
“It is common knowledge and is indeed trite law, that infliction of serious and severe wound could have anticipatory natural result of death and the person who inflicted such serious or severe wounds would be guilty of murder”. PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
PROOF OF CAUSE OF DEATH – WHETHER PROOF OF CAUSE OF DEATH CAN BE BY DIRECT EVIDENCE
“In my view, there is direct evidence adduced which proved the cause of the death of the deceased which connected the death of the deceased with the act or acts of the accused. See Oguntolu v State (1996)2 NWLR(pt.432)503; Young Ukauwa Ugwu v The State(2002)9 NWLR (pt.771)90.” PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
OFFENCE OF MURDER – FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN DETERMINING WHETHER AN ACCUSED PERSON INTENDED TO CAUSE THE DEATH OF HIS VICTIM
“In order to determine whether the accused by his act or acts intended to cause death of his victim, the law has set down some factors to be considered. Some of these factors include (a) the weapon used on the victim i.e. whether lethal weapon and used in the deceased that is a lethal weapon which is deadly death-dealing (b) part of the body of victim on which the weapon was used or brutalised and (c) the extent or proximity of the victim with the lethal weapon or number of blows, stabs or severity applied in the attacks. See Iden v State (1994)8 NWLR (pt.365)719”. PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – DEFINITION OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT
“This court in the case of Abdullahi vs State(2015)EJSC (Vol.8)103 defined the term “confessional statement” thus:-
“By virtue of Section 27 (i) and (2) of the Evidence Act, a confessional statement is an admission made at any time a person charged with certain offences. It is equally part of the principle that a confessional statement is deemed to constitute relevant facts against the person who made it only when voluntarily given by its maker and/or obtained from him.” See also Nsofor v State (2004)18 NWLR (pt.905)292 referred therein. See also Adebayo V State(2015)EJSC )Vol.4)60; Akpan v State (supra).
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE BEST EVIDENCE
“It is settled law that a confessional statement is the best evidence that the accused person committed the offence since it is his own confession”. See Yesufu v State(2013)l-2 SC.194.” PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – DUTY OF A TRIAL COURT WHERE A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS RETRACTED AT THE TRIAL
“The law is trite that where a confessional statement is retracted or resiled from at the trial, the trial judge must examine the evidence led in order to see if there is independent evidence corroborating the retracted confessional statement.” PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – TESTS A RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT SHOULD BE SUBJECTED TO
“Where a confessional statement is retracted as in this case, the court then shall decide the weight it would attach to the confessional statement. The best way to go about it is by subjecting the confession to the underlisted six tests, namely:-
(a) Is there anything outside the confession to show that it is true?
(b) Is the confessional statement corroborated
(c) Are the statement made in it of facts and so far as we can test them, true?
(d) Is the accused person a person who had the opportunity of committing the offence
(e) Is his confession possible?
(f) Is it consistent with other facts which have been ascertained and which have been proved at the trial?
See Kareem v FRN (2003)16 WRN 114; Kolawole v State (2015) EJSC (Vol.3)41; Dibie v State (2007)1 ALL FWLR (pt.363)83; Ejinima v State (1991)5 LRCN 1640; Bature v State (1994)1 NWLR (pt.320)267”. PER A.SANUSI, J.S.C
PROOF – BURDEN AND STANDARD OF PROVING A CRIME
“It is now very well settled that the principle of criminal law is that the burden of proving a crime rests squarely on the prosecution with a standard of proof that is beyond reasonable doubt which in effect means that every ingredient of the offence must be established to that standard of proof without leaving any reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused in the case”. PER M.U.PETER-ODILI,J.S.C
OFFENCE OF MURDER – ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS TO GROUND A CONVICTION IN THE OFFENCE OF MURDER
“In this instant case where the appellant was charged for murder the essential elements to ground a conviction being as follows:-
(a) There was a killing.
(b) The killing was unlawful as prohibited by Section 316 of the Criminal Code.
(c) It was the act or omission of the accused person that caused the death of the deceased.
(d) The accused intended to cause the death of the deceased.
See Anekwe v The State (1976) 9-10 SC 255; Aiguoreghian v The State (2004) 3 NWLR (Pt.860) 367; Idiok V State (2008) 13 NWLR (Pt.1104) 225 at 237”.PER M.U.PETER-ODILI, J.S.C
CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF LOWER COURTS – INSTANCES WHERE AN APPELLATE COURT WILL INTERFERE WITH THE CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACTS OF LOWER COURTS
“In order to succeed in this appeal, the appellant must show that the decision of the lower court affirming the judgment of the trial court is perverse, either because the evaluation of evidence and findings of fact were not based on a proper and dispassionate appraisal of the evidence on record, or the trial court did not make proper use of the opportunity of seeing and hearing the witnesses testify, or that the findings were reached as a result of a wrong application of substantive law or procedure, or that there was a miscarriage of justice manifest on the face of the record. See: Igbi Vs The State (2000) 3 NWLR (Pt. 648) 169; Shehu Vs The State (2010) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1195) 112; Itu Vs The State (2016) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1506) 443. These are some of the exceptional circumstances that would persuade this court to interfere.” PER K.M.O KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C
STATUTES REFERRED TO:
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 199(as amended)
Criminal Code Law, Laws of Ogun State 2006