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FAILURE TO USE VIDEO RECORDING DURING RECORDING CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

Dictum

The use of the imperative word “shall” in the provision underscores its mandatory nature. The mischief sought to be curbed by the law includes such unsavory situations as where an alleged confession is extracted by torture and duress imposed on a defendant which led to the confession, to avoid miscarriage of justice and to reduce to the barest minimum the incidents of retractions and time consumed by trial within trial proceedings. Section 9(3) ACJL is a mandatory procedural law against infractions on the constitutional rights of a defendant as enshrined in Section 35(2) of the CFRN (as altered). Any purported confessional statement recorded in breach of the said provision is of no effect. It is impotent and worthless. See JOSEPH ZHIYA v. THE PEOPLE OF LAGOS STATE (2016) LPELR – 40562 Pp. 28-29 Paras G-B, ISMAILA FATOKI v. THE STATE- unreported judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/L/1125/2011 delivered on 11/12/2015, FABIAN MATHEW v. THE STATE – unreported judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/L/1126/2011 delivered on 11/12/2015, KINGSLEY AKHABUE v. THE STATE – unreported judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/L/1056/2011 delivered on 11/12/2015, AGBANIMU v. FRN (2018) LPELR – 43924 (CA) Pp. 11-12 Paras E-A, ENECHE v. PEOPLE OF LAGOS STATE (2018) LPELR – 45826 (CA) Pp. 27-28 which are persuasive precedents of the Court of Appeal.

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

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT TENDERED WITHOUT OBJECTION IS VALID

The law is well settled that when a confessional statement is tendered without objection by an accused or his counsel, they cannot cry foul on appeal as it is deemed they were in agreement with what was tendered at the trial Court, see the cases of Shurumo v. State (2010) LPELR-3069(SC) and FRN v. Kayode-Beckley (2020) LPELR-50549(CA), neither the appellant nor his counsel objected to PW4 tendering exhibit A at the trial Court.

– EBIOWEI TOBI, J.C.A. Abdul v. State (2021)

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CONSTITUTES EVIDENCE AGAINST THE MAKER ALONE

In a plethora of decisions, this court has held that a confessional statement constitutes evidence against the maker alone and cannot be used as evidence against a co-accused unless the co-accused adopts it by word or conduct. The rationale for this is clear – noone can confess to a crime on behalf of another. See: Ajaegbo v. The State (2018) LPELR – 44531 (SC) @ 44 – 45 C – D; (2018) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1631) 484; Kasa v. The State (1994) 5 NWLR (Pt. 344) 269 @ 288; Jimoh v. The State (2014) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1414) 105 @ 139. It is therefore an incorrect statement of the law to state that the court can rely on the extra-judicial confession of an accused against his co-accused, to ground a conviction against him so long as it incriminates him.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Enobong v. The State (2022) – SC/CR/249/2020

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WHERE DEATH SENTENCE IS THE PUNISHMENT, CONFESSIONAL STATEMENTS SHOULD APPLY WITH THE LEGAL PROCEDURE

The learned trial judge having admitted that the prosecution still bears the burden to call evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant made a voluntary confession in a trial within trial, went ahead to shift the burden of proof to the Appellant (Defendant at the trial Court). Evidence of a video recording or the presence of a legal practitioner would have been conclusive proof that the confessional statement was obtained voluntarily. It makes it imperative in the circumstances, particularly in cases of armed robbery where a death sentence is the sanction on conviction, that confessional statements should be taken according to the provisions of the law. Even where the prosecution has ignored the provision of the law as sacrosanct as this, the trial judge should have brought it up suo motu. The judge cannot pick and choose which extant law to enforce.

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

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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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DENIAL OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT DOES NOT MAKE THE CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT INADMISSIBLE

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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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – CONFIRMATION BY SUPERIOR OFFICER MAY BE DISPENSED WITH

Confirmation before a superior police officer of a statement made by the accused that he was the one who committed the crime may be dispensed with and the confessional statement may be admitted if there is no suspicion of such statement not being voluntary. See MUSA KASA v. THE STATE (1994) 6 SCNJ.

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

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