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INTERPRETER OF AN ACCUSED STATEMENT MUST BE CALLED

Dictum

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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PERSON ACCUSED OF CRIME STILL HAS ACCESS TO ENFORCE HIS RIGHTS

The fact that a person has been accused of a crime, however serious, will not deny that person access to Court to enforce his fundamental right if these rights have been violated. See Duruaku v. Nwoke (2015) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1483) 417.

– Ngwuta JSC. Ihim v. Maduagwu (2021)

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RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT MUST PASS THESE TESTS

In other words, the retracted confession must pass the six credibility tests forming part of our criminal jurisprudence which have been established in a long fine of cases referred to above. These are: i. Is there anything outside the confession to show that it is true? ii. Is it corroborated? iii. Are the relevant statements made in it of facts true as far as they can be tested? iv. Was the accused one who had the opportunity of committing murder? v. Is his confession possible? vi. Is it consistent with other facts which have been ascertained and have been proved?

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

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TRIAL-WITHIN-TRIAL IS TO DETERMINE VOLUNTARINESS OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

I must emphasise that the function of a court in trial within trial is narrowed down to determining solely the question of voluntariness of the statement in issue and not on whether or not the statement is that of the accused person or improperly recorded. It boils down to the proposition that there is no way an accused person who has not acknowledged his alleged confessional statement sought to be tendered by the prosecution in a trial within trial can come round to object to its voluntariness. The absence of his locus to otherwise so contend is indisputable.

– Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Ibeme v. State (2013)

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TAKING A SUSPECT BEFORE A SUPERIOR OFFICER IS NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT

The procedure of taking a suspect who has made a confessional statement before a superior officer for confirmation is not a legal requirement. It is an administrative practice that has gained judicial approval, as an additional means of ensuring that a confessional statement is voluntary.

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

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: VOLUNTARINESS VS DISOWNING

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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A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE STRONGEST EVIDENCE AGAINST AN ACCUSED

It is trite in law, that there is no evidence stronger than a person’s own admission or confession. The confessional statement made by an accused person is potent evidence in the hand of a prosecutor for proving a charge. It is the best and safest evidence on which to convict.

– M. Peter-Odili, JSC. Enabeli v. State (2021)

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