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DENIAL OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT DOES NOT MAKE THE CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT INADMISSIBLE

Dictum

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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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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WEIGHT/CONSIDERATIONS TO BE ATTACHED TO A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

The fact that an accused person denies making a confessional statement to the police, does not render such extra-judicial statement inadmissible merely because the accused person denies having made it. What the Court is expected to do to determine the weight to be attached to a retracted confessional statement is to test its truthfulness and veracity by examining the said statement in the light of other credible available evidence. The Court would consider whether: a. There is anything outside that Confessional statement to show that it is true; b. It is Corroborated; c. The facts stated in it are true as far as it can be tested; d. The accused person had the opportunity of committing the offence; e. The accused person’s confession is possible; f. The confession is consistent with the other facts ascertained and proved at the trial. See Per OKORO, JSC, in ALAO V. STATE (2019) LPELR-47856(SC) (PP. 23-24 PARAS. E).

— M.D. Muhammad, JSC. Friday Charles v. The State of Lagos (SC.CR/503/2020, Friday March 31 2023)

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE BEST POINTER TO THE TRUTH

It is trite law that a confessional statement made by an accused person, which is properly admitted in evidence is, in law, the best pointer to the truth of the role played by such accused person in the commission of the offence … There is however a duty on the Court to test the truth of a confession by examining it in the light of the other credible evidence before the Court.

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

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT BEING THE BEST STATEMENT FOR CONVICTION

There is no doubt that a confessional statement is the best evidence to prove a crime. It is the evidence of the perpetrator describing why and how the crime was committed. It proves both the mens rea and the actus reus. However, such admission to be solely used to convict a defendant must be voluntarily made and must be a positive and direct admission of guilt.

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

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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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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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