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MURDER AND BAIL; IT MAY NOT BE PROPER TO KEEP ACCUSED IN CUSTODY JUST BECAUSE MURDER IS ALLEGED AGAINST HIM

Dictum

In the case of Christian Diogu v. The Commissioner of Police (2000) 1 K.L.R. (Pt. 94) 195 the appellant was charged for conspiracy and murder before the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Onitsha. The Chief Magistrate remanded the appellant in custody. He applied to the High Court for a bail. The High Court dismissed his application on the ground that it would not be in public interest to admit the applicant to bail. The applicant then appealed to the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division. The Court of Appeal in granting bail was of the view that it would be dangerous to merely arrest citizens of this country on allegation of murder without substantial facts in support and keep them in custody merely because they are being accused of murder. From the facts of that case the prosecution did not even provide the court with proof of evidence to show that there was a prima facie case of murder against the appellant.

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MEDICAL EVIDENCE IS NOT A SINE QUA NON FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MURDER

Be that as it may, however, it is now well settled that as much as medical evidence is desirable to prove the cause of death in homicide cases, it is not a sine quo non. It has been laid down in a long line of cases that cause of death can be established by sufficient evidence. other than medical evidence, showing beyond reasonable doubt that death resulted from the particular act of the accused. See Akpuenya v. The State (1976) 11 S.C. 269, 278. In Lori v. The State (1980) 8-11 S.C. 81 at 97.

— Ogundare, JSC. Azu v State (1993) – SC. 131/1992

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ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF THE OFFENCE OF MURDER

In a charge of murder such as the one under discourse, the prosecution must lead credible evidence to establish the essential elements of the offence which are the following: (a) That the deceased had died. (b) That the death of the deceased was caused by the accused person and (c) That the act or omission of the accused person which caused the death of the deceased was intentional with knowledge that death or grievous bodily harm was a probable consequence.

– M. Peter-Odili, JSC. Enabeli v. State (2021)

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INGREDIENTS FOR A CONVICTION OF MURDER

The law has been long established in a legion of judicial authorities that before an Accused person can be convicted for the offence of murder, the prosecution is duty bound to prove the following ingredients beyond reasonable doubt: a) That the deceased died; b) That it was the unlawful act or omission of the Appellant which caused the death of the deceased; and c) That the act or omission of the accused which caused the death of the deceased was intentional with the knowledge that death or grievous bodily harm was its probable consequence.

– Adamu Jauro, JSC. Enabeli v. State (2021)

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PRINCIPLE BEHIND THE GRANT OF BAIL

What is the principle governing the grant of bail. What it might be asked is the accused’s right of bail. It is to be stated that in virtually all civilised countries where the rule of law reigns supreme, the procedural law does not rest upon any priori sentimentality about the criminal act. Indeed the great Jurists and lawmakers and the framers of the constitution who in their different activities fashioned our laws were not and are not motivated or animated by any particular softness towards the lawbreakers. The basis behind all the procedures which ensure adequate reasonable safeguards is not rooted in coddling the criminal or any miscreant or indeed treat his alleged nefarious act with kid gloves. It is not equally to ensure that there are large and enough veritable loopholes by which he can effect his escape from the consequences of the result of his evil act. Rather it is to preserve our heritage for freedom; that a person accused is not detained for the purpose of making him suffer indignity, and that it is effectively to make certain as nearly as the complexity and perplexity of our world will permit that the truth will be discovered and that justice will be done. It therefore does not rest on a misguided and naïve unrequited emotionalism.

— Pats-Acholonu JCA. Vincent Ogueri v. The State (12th July 2000)

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CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE A PERSON IS DEEMED TO UNLAWFULLY KILL ANOTHER

A person who unlawfully kills another under any of the following circumstances is guilty of murder: (1) If the offender intends to cause the death of the person killed or that of some other person. Under this heading, the prosecution is bound to prove beyond reasonable doubt: (a) that the deceased died; (b) that the death of the deceased resulted from the act of the accused; (c) that the act of the accused was intentional with the knowledge that death or grievous bodily harm was its probable consequence. See Section 316(1) of the Criminal Code Cap 30 Vol. II Laws of Eastern Nigeria 1963 as applicable in Imo State of Nigeria under which the appellant was charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. See also Offorlete v. The State (2000) 80 LRCN 26 20; Effiong v. The State (1998) 59 LRCN 39 61; Richard Igago v. The State (1999) 73 LRCN 3502 at 3535. (2) If the offender intends to do to the deceased or to some other person some grievous harm. See Section 316(2) of the Criminal Code (supra); R v. Dim (1952) 14 WACA 154; R v. Adi (1955) 15 WACA 6. (3) If death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose, which act is of such a nature as to be likely to endanger human life. The unlawful act need not be a felony so long as it is likely to endanger human life. See Section 316 of the Criminal Code (supra); Obayi Asa v. The State (1976) 7 SC 173; Idowu v. The State (2000) LRCN 2788; R v. Attah (1961) 1 All NLR 590. (4) If the offender intends to do grievous harm to some person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence which is such that the offender may be arrested without a warrant, or for purpose of facilitating the flight of an offender who has committed or attempted to commit any such offence. (5) If death is caused by administering any stupefying or overpowering things for either of the purposes in (4) above. (6) If death is caused by willfully stopping the breath of any person for either of such purpose. See Section 316(6) of the Criminal Code (supra).

— N.S. Ngwuta, JSC. Henry Nwokearu V. The State (SC.227/2011, 24 MAY 2013)

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INGREDIENTS TO PROVE MURDER BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT

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: (a) That death of a human being has been caused (b) That it was the act of the accused that caused or led to the death of the deceased. (c) That the act or acts were done with the intention of causing death; or (d) The accused knew that death would be the probable consequence of his act or acts See Omini Vs The State (1999) 12 NWLR (pt.630) 168 or (1999) 9 SC 1; Abogede V The State (1996); Ogba v The State (1992) 2 NWLR (pt.222) 164.

— Amiru Sanusi, JSC. Ogunleye Tobi v The State (2019) – SC.714/2017

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