Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY IS NOT REQUIRED FOR CONVICTION IN CRIMINAL CASES

Dictum

It can be discerned from these cases that though certainty is an essential element of proof in criminal liability or guilt, absolute certainly is not required because it is “impossible in any human adventure including the administration of criminal justice.” That’s one reason why the requirement of standard of proof placed on the prosecution is to prove beyond reasonable doubt and not beyond all or any shadow of doubt. The standard of proof and the burden placed on the prosecution are by the endless judicial authorities on the issue, now common place.

– M.L. Garba JCA. Odogwu v. Vivian (2009) – CA/PH/345/05

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT DENOTES PROOF TO MORAL CERTAINTY

Invariably, the term proof beyond reasonably as implored in Section 135 of the Evidence Act, denotes proof to moral certainty or standard. Thus, such proof as accords to the conscience of the trial judge as a reasonable Judge, that the crime so charged has indeed been committed by the defendant, thereby leaving no other reasonable conclusion possible.

– I.M.M. Saulawa JSC. Balogun v. FRN (2021)

Was this dictum helpful?

LORD DENNING’S COMMENT ON REASONABLE DOUBT – ‘FANCIFUL POSSIBILITIES’

Denning , J., (as he then was) stated in Miller v. Minister of Pensions (1947) 2 All ER 372, 373: “does not mean proof beyond the shadow of doubt. The law would fail to protect the community if it admitted of fanciful possibilities to defect the course of justice. If the evidence is so strong against a man as to leave only a remote possibility in his favour which can be dismissed with the sentence ‘of course it is possible, but not in the least probable’ the case is proved beyond reasonable doubt but nothing short of that will suffice.”

Was this dictum helpful?

BURDEN OF PROOF “BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT” NEVER SHIFTS

It must always be borne in mind and this is settled, that the burden of proving that any person is guilty of a crime, rests on the prosecution. The cardinal principle of law, is that the commission of a crime by a party must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. This is the law laid down in section 138(1) of the Evidence Act. The burden never shifts. Therefore, if on the whole of the evidence, the court is left in a state of doubt (as I am in this instant case leading to this appeal), the prosecution would have failed to discharge the onus of proof which the law lays upon it and the prisoner/accused person, is entitled to an acquittal. See the cases of Alonge v. Inspector-General of Police (1959) 4 FSC 203, (1959) SCNLR 516; Fatoyinbo v. Attorney-General, Western Nigeria (1966) WNLR 4, and The State v. Musa Danjuma (1997) 5 SCNJ 126 at 136-137, 156; (1997) 5 NWLR (Pt. 506) 512.

— Ogbuagu, JSC. Udosen v State (2007) – SC.199/2005

Was this dictum helpful?

CORRUPT PRACTICES ARE TO BE PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT

In the instant case, the Petitioners have grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and allegation of corrupt practices. Section 134(1) (b) refers to the ground of corrupt practices or non-compliance. If the ground pursued in any petition is simply non-compliance with the Act and there is no tincture of allegation of crime, the proof required would be on the balance of probabilities. But the standard of proof in any ground that is primarily on corrupt practices would require proof beyond reasonable doubt, that allegation being criminal in nature.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

Was this dictum helpful?

WHEN A CASE IS SAID TO BE PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT

It must however, be emphasized that the burden of proof of the guilt of an accused person beyond reasonable doubt by the Prosecution in criminal cases should not be taken to mean that the prosecution must sustain its case beyond every shadow of doubt. Absolute certainty is impossible in any human adventure including the administration of justice. Thus, once the Prosecution has been able to prove that an offence has been committed and that no person other than the accused committed the offence, the prosecution is said to have established its case beyond reasonable doubt.

– Abdu Aboki, JSC. Chukwu v. State (2021)

Was this dictum helpful?

PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF WITNESSES

It is a settled principle of law that in criminal proceedings the prosecution must establish the guilt of the accused person beyond reasonable doubt. It is also well settled that proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond the shadow of a doubt or beyond any iota of doubt. If the prosecution has led evidence that is cogent, credible and compelling, which points irresistibly to the guilt of the accused, it would have discharged the burden. Proof beyond reasonable doubt depends not on the quantity of witnesses for the prosecution but upon the quality of the evidence given.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. State v Sani Ibrahim (2019) – SC.1097/2016

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.