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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT TENDERED WITHOUT OBJECTION IS VALID

Dictum

The law is well settled that when a confessional statement is tendered without objection by an accused or his counsel, they cannot cry foul on appeal as it is deemed they were in agreement with what was tendered at the trial Court, see the cases of Shurumo v. State (2010) LPELR-3069(SC) and FRN v. Kayode-Beckley (2020) LPELR-50549(CA), neither the appellant nor his counsel objected to PW4 tendering exhibit A at the trial Court.

– EBIOWEI TOBI, J.C.A. Abdul v. State (2021)

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STATEMENTS SHOULD BE RECORDED IN LANGUAGE MADE

Olanipekun v. State (2016) LPELR-40440(SC) 8, B-D, Aka’ahs, J.S.C. expressed the position of the case law as follows: “Statements should be, wherever practicable, recorded in the language in which they are made. This is a practical wisdom directed to avoid technical arguments which could be raised. It is not an invariable practice but one to ensure the correctness and accuracy of the statements made by the accused persons.”

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CONFESSION IS RELEVANT WHEN IT PROVES FACT

The vital consideration that should engage the mind of a trial Judge is the relevancy of the confession. A confession is relevant when it proves the fact that constitutes one of, or all, the elements of the crime to be proved, and/or identifies the person who committed the offence. If the confession is relevant and is free and voluntary, it is admissible in evidence and once admitted, the weight to be attached depends on its probative value and pure truth content.

– Sankey JCA. Abdul v. State (2021)

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DENIAL OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT DOES NOT MAKE THE CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT INADMISSIBLE

Against this background, it is important to note that the Appellant, in the course of his evidence-in-chief before the lower Court, retracted from the said Exhibits A and A1, thus prompting the lower Court into deciding that the entire evidence of the Appellant was at that stage unreliable and therefore discountenanced same; but the settled position of the law is that a retraction of a confession does not ipso facto render the confession inadmissible. See the old case of R. v. JOHN AGAGARIGA ITULE (1961) 1 ANLR 402 (FSC) where the Supreme Court per BRETT, Ag CJF held thus; “A confession does not become inadmissible merely because the accused person denies having made it and in this respect a confession contained in a statement made to the Police by a person under arrest is not to be treated different from any other confession. The fact that the Appellant took the earliest opportunity to deny having made the statement may lend weight to his denial. See R v. SAPELE and ANOR (1952) 2 FSC 74 but it is not in itself a reason for ignoring the statement.” … It would be further recalled that the Appellant took the earliest opportunity when the statement was offered in evidence to deny having made it. But the position remains in law, that a mere denial without more, even at the earliest opportunity, cannot, on the bare facts of the case, lend any iota of weight to the denial. Apart from the fact that the denial is a bare statement bereft of any supporting facts, it is by and large, standing only on the ipsi dexit of the Appellant. To make matters rather worse and as revealed by the printed records in this case, the said statements were not even challenged on grounds of involuntariness and the learned trial Court in its Ruling on the objection raised by the Appellant rightly declined the invitation to conduct a trial within trial. Against this backdrop, the question of the voluntariness of the statements, not having been raised or challenged at the trial, this Court therefore holds that the prosecution proved affirmatively that Exhibits A and A1 were voluntary confessional statements of the Appellant. Regardless of this position, the usual thing in all criminal trials is that the burden of proving affirmatively beyond doubt that the confession was made voluntarily is always on the prosecution, which this prosecution succeeded in doing as expected in this case. See the cases of JOSHUA ADEKANBI v. A-G WESTERN NIGERIA (1961) All NLR 47; R v. MATON PRIESTLY (1966) 50 CR APP. R 183 at 188; ISIAKA AUTA v. THE STATE (1975) NNLR 60 at 65 SC on the issue.

— F.O. Oho, JCA. Nasiru v State (2016) – CA/S/78C/2015

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RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT MUST MEET FOLLOWING TESTS

My Lords, the confessional statement of the Appellant was retracted by him in the course of the trial and the position of the law as reiterated by this Court in several cases is that the statement must meet the probability test set out in R. v. Sykes (1913) 18 CR All Pg. 233: a) Whether there is anything outside it to show the statement is true, b) Whether it is corroborated, c) Whether the statement made in it of fact so far as they can be tested are true, d) Whether the accused had the opportunity of committing the offence, e) Whether it is consistent with other facts which have been ascertained and have been proved.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT MUST PASS THESE TESTS

In other words, the retracted confession must pass the six credibility tests forming part of our criminal jurisprudence which have been established in a long fine of cases referred to above. These are: i. Is there anything outside the confession to show that it is true? ii. Is it corroborated? iii. Are the relevant statements made in it of facts true as far as they can be tested? iv. Was the accused one who had the opportunity of committing murder? v. Is his confession possible? vi. Is it consistent with other facts which have been ascertained and have been proved?

– H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. State v. Ibrahim (2021) – SC.200/2016

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CAN GROUND THE CONVICTION OF AN ACCUSED

It is now axiomatic that a confessional statement can ground the conviction of an accused person provided that it is direct and positive. It is therefore no longer debatable that a man may be convicted on his confessional statement alone which is voluntary, free, positive, so long as the Court is satisfied of its truth. Such a confession would constitute proof of guilt of the maker and suffices as evidence upon which to ground or sustain his conviction.

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

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