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CONFESSION DOES NOT BECOME IRRELEVANT DUE TO DECEPTION

Dictum

My Lords, the law is trite that a confession otherwise relevant does not become irrelevant merely because it was made under a promise of secrecy, or in consequence of a deception practiced on the defendant for the purpose of obtaining it, or when he was drunk, or because it was made in answer to questions which he needed to have answered, whatever may have been the form of these questions, or because he was not warned that he was not bound to make such statement and the evidence of it might be given.

– J.I. Okoro JSC. Berende v. FRN (2021)

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FACTORS THE COURT WILL CONSIDER BEFORE RELYING ON A RETRACTED STATEMENT

Before relying on a retracted confessional statement to convict an accused person, the factors the Court would consider are as follows: 1. Whether there is anything outside the confession which shows that it may be true; 2. Whether the confessional statement is in fact corroborated; 3. Whether the relevant statements of fact made in it are most likely true as far as they can be tested; 4. Whether the accused had the opportunity of committing the offence; 5. Whether the confession is possible; and 6. Whether the alleged confession is consistent with other facts that have been ascertained and established. See: R Vs Sykes (1913) 8 Cr.App. Report 233; Ubierho Vs The State (2005) 5 NWLR (Pt. 919) 644 @ 655; Nwachukwu Vs The State (supra); Fabiyi Vs The State (2015) LPELR -24834 (SC) @ 33-34 E-D.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. State v Abdu Musa (2019) – SC.625/2016

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RETRACTION OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT DOES NOT RENDER IT INADMISSIBLE

It is trite that the mere retraction of a confessional statement by the Defendant will not render it inadmissible. It will only affect the weight to be attached to it where the Defendant denies making it at the earliest opportunity.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE BEST EVIDENCE

Confessional statement is the best evidence to ground conviction and, as held in a number of cases, it can be relied upon solely where voluntary. The criminal guilt of an accused person could be established by confessional statement, circumstantial evidence and evidence of an eye witness. A confessional statement of the Appellant that was free and voluntary led to the crystallisation of the procedure stipulated under Section 156 and 157 of the CPC, which 17 were duly applied as held above. A confessional statement does not become inadmissible even if the accused person denied having made it. This has been the settled position in our jurisprudence of criminal justice.

— S.D. Bagel, JSC. Mohammed v. COP (2017) – SC.625/2014

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE BEST EVIDENCE IN NIGERIA CRIMINAL LAW

I entirely agree with the contention of the Respondent’s counsel that the nature of the corroborative evidence required does not need to be direct evidence linking the Defendant to the commission of the offence. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient, particularly where it leads to no other conclusion than the guilt of the Defendant. I agree with the Respondent’s counsel that a confessional statement is the best evidence in Nigerian criminal jurisprudence as it is direct evidence by the perpetrator giving the reasons for and how the offence was committed. So long as it is voluntary and it is a direct and positive admission of guilt, it can be used to convict even where it has been retracted.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT SHOULD BE OBJECTED TO WHEN SOUGHT TO BE TENDERED

It must also be stated that the time to object to the voluntariness of a confessional statement is when it is sought to be tendered and not after it has been admitted in evidence. See: Godsgift Vs The State (2016) LPELR-40540 (SC) 5 31 B C; Olalekan Vs The State (2002) 2 SCNJ 104; Muhammad Vs The State (2017) LPELR-42098 ISC) g 17 18 C B.

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

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SIX TESTS CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT MUST PASS IF RETRACTED

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 statements 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.

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

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