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ESSENCE OF AN ACCUSED BEING PRESENT AT HIS CRIMINAL TRIAL

Dictum

The trial Court having conducted the proceedings of 20/11/2015 in the absence of the Respondent jumped the guns and breached his constitutional right. The essence of the presence of an accused throughout his trial is to afford him an adequate opportunity to play his statutory role and liberty to respond at every stage of the proceedings personally or through a legal practitioner of his own choice for the purpose of ensuring fair hearing.

— U.M. Abba Aji, JSC. State v. Andrew Yanga (SC.712/2018, 15 Jan 2021)

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THE COURT IS TO CONSIDER DEFENCES FOR THE ACCUSED

In criminal trial, not only must the defences of the accused be considered, the Court is bound to consider the defences available to the accused which the accused himself did not raise, especially where the accused is facing a trial in which his life is at stake. See Nwankwoala v. The State (2006) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1000) 663; Adebayo v. The Republic (1962) NWLR 391; Akpabio v. The State (1994) 7 NWLR (Pt. 359) 653; Oguntolu v. The State (1996) 2 NWLR (Pt. 432) 503; Malam Zakari Ahmed v. The State (1999) 7 NWLR (Pt. 612) 641 at 679 and 681.

— P.A. Galinje JSC. Onuwa Kalu v. The State (SC.474/2011, 13 Apr 2017)

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BEFORE AN ACCUSED CAN BE CONVICTED FOR A LESSER OFFENCE

This power cannot be exercised at large. It is subject to certain limitations. Before an accused person can be convicted of a lesser offence, the ingredients of the lesser offence must be subsumed or embedded in the original offence charged and the circumstances in which the lesser offence was committed must be similar to those contained in the offence charged. See: The Nigerian Airforce vs Kamaldeen (2007) 2 SC 113: (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1032) 164: Saliu Vs The State (2018) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1627) 346; Agugua vs The State (2017) LPELR 4202 (SC).

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Onukwube v. State (2020) – SC.1214C/2018

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FAILURE TO PROVIDE AN INTERPRETER FOR AN ACCUSED IS NOT FATAL

In any case, I hold that failure to provide an interpreter where an accused person is represented by counsel, and there is/was no objection raised at the trial court, this will not result in vitiating the trial or result in disturbing or interfering with the judgment of a trial court. It will or may be a different thing where there is no counsel representing the accused person and where such failure will or has led to a miscarriage of justice or that the accused person has been prejudiced thereby as a result.

— Ogbuagu, JSC. Udosen v State (2007) – SC.199/2005

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ACCUSED WHO PLEADS GUILTY CAN BE CONVICTED SUMMARILY

In the case of F.R.N. v. KAYODE (2019) 6 SC (Pt.1) 165 at 188, this Court, per Galumje, JSC held as follows: “The law is settled that an Accused person who pleads guilty to a criminal charge can be convicted summarily if the Court is satisfied that he intended to admit the truth of all the essentials of the offence.”

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INTERPRETER OF AN ACCUSED STATEMENT MUST BE CALLED

It is indeed the law that an accused person’s statement should, as much as possible, be taken down in the exact words of the accused person. Where the statement is thereafter translated into English by another person, the interpreter must be called as a witness in order for the statement in English to be admissible in evidence. Where that interpreter is not called, the statement in English will be regarded as hearsay evidence and will therefore be inadmissible

– Eyop v. State (2018) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1615) 273 (SC) per Sanusi, J.S.C.

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CO-ACCUSED CANNOT APPEAL APPLICATION REFUSED RELATING TO AN ACCUSED

My Lords, this Appellant, being tried jointly with the 1st Accused, may be a party interested in the outcome of the 1st Accused’s application. He cannot, however, appeal against the ruling in that application without leave of Court first sought and obtained. Doing otherwise, as he has done in this appeal, the Appellant in my view is a busybody meddling in the affairs of the other. See SOCIETE GENERALE BANK (NIG.) LTD. V. 13 AFEKORO (1999) 11 NWLR (pt.628) 521; (1999) 7 SC (pt. iii) 95.

— E. Eko, JSC. Kekong v State (2017) – SC.884/2014

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