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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: VOLUNTARINESS VS DISOWNING

Dictum

Where it is alleged that a confessional statement was obtained under duress or as a result of threat or inducement, the Courts have developed the practice of conducting a trial within trial 18 (TWT) or mini trial to ascertain the voluntariness of the statement. The onus is on the prosecution to prove that it was freely and voluntarily made … On the other hand, where the accused outrightly disowns the confession and asserts that he did not make the statement at all, it would be admitted in evidence and considered alongside other evidence led at the trial to determine its probative value.

– Kekere-Ekun JSC. Berende v. FRN (2021)

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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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WHERE THERE IS RETRACTION OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT, COURT SHOULD CONVICT ONLY WHEN THERE IS CORROBORATION

Where a confessional statement is denied or retracted by an accused as in the instant case. it is desirable to have corroborative evidence no matter how slight before convicting on it. The Courts are enjoined as a matter of duty to test the veracity or otherwise of such statement by comparing it with other facts and circumstances outside the statement, to see whether they support, confirm or correspond with it. In other words, the Court must scrutinize the statement to test its truthfulness or otherwise in line with other available evidence. See: KAZEEM VS STATE (2009) All FWLR (Pt.465) page 1749; EDHIGERE VS STATE (1996) 8 NWLR (Pt.464) page 1; ONOCHIE & 7 ORS. VS THE REPUBLIC (1966) 1 SCNLR 204; and QUEEN VS ITULE (1961) 2 SCNLR 183.

— S.D. Bage, JSC. State v Masiga (2017) – SC

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ACCUSED CAN BE CONVICTED ON HIS CONFESSION

The law is trite that an accused person can be convicted solely on his confession if the confession is positive and direct in the admission of the offence charged. In other words, voluntary confession of guilt whether judicial or extra judicial, if it is direct and positive is sufficient proof of the guilt and is enough to sustain a conviction, so long as the Court is satisfied with the truth of such a confession.

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

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TRIAL-WITHIN-TRIAL IS TO TEST VOLUNTARINESS OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENTS ONLY

I agree with the learned counsel for the Respondent that the Appellant’s counsel had really misunderstood the fundamental requirement in criminal trial. A trial within trial is required in law where the objection to admissibility of a statement is based on the ground that it was not made voluntarily. In that case there has to be a trial within trial to determine the question of voluntariness. It is only where this is proved by the prosecution that the statement is admitted in evidence.

– Galadima, JSC. Kingsley v. State (2016)

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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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WHEN A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CAN GROUND A CONVICTION

Where a confessional statement is direct, positive and admits all or some of the elements of the offence charged, and the Court is satisfied that it was voluntarily made, the Court can rely on it to ground a conviction even though retracted at the trial. See: Igbinovia Vs The State (1981) LPELR — 1446 (SC) @ 17 B-D; (1981) 2 SC 5; Yesufu Vs The State (1976) 6 SC 163; Adebayo Vs The State (2014) LPELR — 22988 (SC) @ 55-56 F-A.

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

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