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EVERY RULE IN FAVOUR OF AN ACCUSED MUST BE METICULOUSLY OBSERVED

Dictum

Under our system, there is no onus on an accused to prove his innocence. The law presumes him innocent. There is thus no duly on the accused to help the prosecution prove him guilty. Our law is against self-incrimination. It is in the interest of justice that every rule in favour of an accused person is meticulously observed and that no rule is broken to his prejudice. The least that the trial court could have done for the appellant whose life was at stake, (he was standing trial for his very life) was to inform him of his rights under S.287(1) and it should be apparent on the record that each alternative was explained to the appellant since he was not represented by a legal practitioner.

— Oputa, JSC. G. Josiah v. The State (1985) – SC.59/1984

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ONLY EXCEPTION FOR WHEN AN ACCUSED MAY BE ABSENT FROM HIS TRIAL

In any case, the very fact that the 1st appellant and the 3rd appellant were absent in their joint trial in court on 14 June 1999 when the inferior court was addressed and 18 April 2000 when the inferior court delivered its judgment, this exercise of allowing the trial to proceed in the absence of some of the accused persons being jointly tried had rendered the entire proceedings of that court including the judgment a complete nullity for not only denial of fair hearing under section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 but also for failure of that court to give the affected appellants even a hearing that may not be called a fair hearing: Godpower Asakitikpi v. The State (1993) 5 NWLR (Pt. 296) 641 at 657.

— M. Mohammed JSC. The State v. Monsurat Lawal (SC. 80/2004, 15 Feb 2013)

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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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ONUS ON SUSPECT TO PROVE TORTURE AND OPPRESSION

An area that has to be cleared in the proof of the voluntariness of an extra-judicial statement or that it was involuntarily made, is that while the burden to establish that the statement was voluntarily made rests on the prosecution, the burden of proving any particular fact such as the allegation of torture and oppression regarding the confessional statement lies on the party so asserting which in this case is the appellant.

– M. Peter-Odili JSC. Berende v. FRN (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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SUFFICIENTLY RECOGNISED THE ACCUSED PERSON

I quite agree with Aderemi, JSC, when he stated in NDIDI v. THE STATE (supra) that a trial Judge must not only warn himself but must meticulously examine the evidence proffered to see whether there are any weaknesses capable of endangering or rendering worthless any contention that the accused person was sufficiently recognised by the witness.

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

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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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