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PRIOR CONDUCT OF THE ACCUSED IS ADMISSIBLE TO EXPLAIN ACCUSED’S CONDUCT

Dictum

Surely, the general rule in criminal as well as in civil cases that the evidence must be confined to the point in issue cannot be applied where the facts which constitute distinct offences are at the same time part of the transaction which is the subject of the charge. Evidence is necessarily admissible as to acts which are so closely and inextricably mixed up with the history of the criminal act itself as to form part of one chain of relevant circumstances, and so could not be excluded in the presentment of the case without the evidence being thereby rendered unintelligible. Thus, in cases of murder, evidence is admissible to show prior assaults by the accused upon the murdered person or menaces uttered to him by the accused, or to show conversely the irritable behaviour by the deceased to the accused. Again, the relations of the murdered man to his assailant, so far as they may reasonably be treated as explanatory of the conduct of the person charged with the crime, can be admitted to prove as integral parts of the history of the alleged crime for which the accused is on his trial. (See R. v. Bond (1906) 2 KB 389 as per Kennedy, J., at pp. 400 and 401).

— Idigbe, JSC. Ishola v State (1978) – SC.8/1977

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ACCUSED DUTY TO LET THE COURT KNOW HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE-USED

Appellant’s counsel is vehemently holding unto the position that it was the duty of the trial Court to make available to the Appellant the services of an interpreter because he is an illiterate. It must be pointed out that where the accused does not understand the language used at his trial, it is his duty or his counsel’s duty to bring to the notice of the Court at the earliest opportunity, that he does not understand the language used at trial. I think the duty of ensuring that the right thing is done is not only on the trial Judge. It is a duty as well on a party to a case or his counsel if represented by one.

– A. Jauro JSC. Balogun v. FRN (2021)

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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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EVERY RULE IN FAVOUR OF AN ACCUSED MUST BE METICULOUSLY OBSERVED

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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RIGHTS EXPLAINED TO THE ACCUSED MUST BE RECORDED

In my view, a bald statement, as in this case, that – “the rights of the accused are explained to him” is certainly not enough. Not only should the court record show clearly what the trial court has done, whatever rights have been explained to the accused must be fully recorded see Ama Ema v. The State (1964) 1 All N.L.R. 416, for, indeed, this is the essence of having a court of record.

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

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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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WHERE ACCUSED PLEADS GUILTY TO AN OFFENCE

The law is settled that if an accused person pleads guilty to an offence with which he is charged, the Court shall record his plea as nearly as possible in the words used by him and if satisfied that he intended to admit the truth of all the essentials of the offence of which he had pleaded guilty, the Court shall convict him of that offence and pass sentence against him unless there appear sufficient cause to the contrary. See Daniel v. F.R.N (2015) 13 NWLR (pt. 1475) 119; Kolo v. COP (2017) 9 NWLR (pt. 1569) 118.

– J.I. Okoro JSC. Balogun v. FRN (2021)

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