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RATIONALE FOR HAVING VIDEO RECORDING DURING RECORD OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

Dictum

Usually, objections raised as to the admissibility of confessional statements pose one of the greatest challenges to criminal trials as it slows down the pace of the proceedings when there is a trial within trial. It is for this reason that Section 9(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2011 and Section 17(2) and 15(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 have been put in place to ensure that the Police and other agencies who have the power to arrest, obtain confessional statements from suspects without any form of oppression or illegality. The effect of the said provision is that every confessional statement must be recorded on video so that the said recording can be tendered and played in Court as evidence to prove voluntariness or a legal practitioner or any person as specified under Section 17(2) of the ACJA must be present. The essence of the video/audio-visual evidence is obviously so that the Court will be able to decipher from the demeanor of the Defendant and all other surrounding circumstances in the video if he or she voluntarily made the confessional statement. Alternatively, where a video facility is not available, the Police must take the confessional statement in writing and must ensure that while same was being taken, the Defendant had a Legal Practitioner of his choice present. However, over the years, it seems to me that these provisions are only existent on paper as the Police and other security agencies seldom comply with them. The current state of technology where most mobile phones have a recording application that would state the time and place of making the video if there is no official Police photographer at hand, makes the non-compliance inexcusable. My Lords, it is baffling, to say the least, that at this point in our criminal justice system, there is still failure to meet with minimum standards of Police investigation or interrogation that obtains in other jurisdictions.

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

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TRIAL-WITHIN-TRIAL APPLIES ONLY TO VOLUNTARINESS OF CONFESSION

The rule with respect to conducting a trial within a trial operates only in cases of questioning the voluntariness or otherwise of confessions. It does not operate where an accused person denies making the statement or retracts.

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

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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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SIX TESTS CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT MUST PASS IF RETRACTED

Where a confessional statement is retracted as in this case, the Court then shall decide the weight it would attach to the confessional statement. The best way to go about it is by subjecting the confession to the underlisted six tests, namely: (a) Is there anything outside the confession to show that it is true? (b) Is the confessional statement corroborated (c) Are the statements made in it of facts and so far as we can test them, true? (d) Is the accused person a person who had the opportunity of committing the offence (e) Is his confession possible? (f) Is it consistent with other facts which have been ascertained and which have been proved at the trial See Kareem v FRN (2003) 16 WRN 114; Kolawole v State (2015) EJSC (Vol.3) 41; Dibie v State (2007) 1 ALL FWLR (pt.363) 83; Ejinima v State (1991) 5 LRCN 1640; Bature v State (1994)1 NWLR (pt.320) 267.

— Amiru Sanusi, JSC. Ogunleye Tobi v The State (2019) – SC.714/2017

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STATEMENTS SHOULD BE RECORDED IN LANGUAGE MADE

Olanipekun v. State (2016) LPELR-40440(SC) 8, B-D, Aka’ahs, J.S.C. expressed the position of the case law as follows: “Statements should be, wherever practicable, recorded in the language in which they are made. This is a practical wisdom directed to avoid technical arguments which could be raised. It is not an invariable practice but one to ensure the correctness and accuracy of the statements made by the accused persons.”

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT SHOULD BE OBJECTED TO WHEN SOUGHT TO BE TENDERED

It must also be stated that the time to object to the voluntariness of a confessional statement is when it is sought to be tendered and not after it has been admitted in evidence. See: Godsgift Vs The State (2016) LPELR-40540 (SC) 5 31 B C; Olalekan Vs The State (2002) 2 SCNJ 104; Muhammad Vs The State (2017) LPELR-42098 ISC) g 17 18 C B.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. State v Sani Ibrahim (2019) – SC.1097/2016

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CO-ACCUSED INCRIMINATING CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

On the issue of his Co-Accused’s Statement, the Appellant is right that his statement cannot be used against him. The position of the law is that the Statement of a Co-Accused Person to the Police is binding on him only see Suberu v. State (2010) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1197) 586. However, where the evidence incriminating an Accused Person comes from a Co-Accused Person, the Court is at liberty to rely on it as long as the co-accused person who gave such incriminating evidence, was tried along with that Accused Person. see Dairo v The State (2017) LPELR-43724(SC) and Micheal V. State (2008) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1104) 383.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. Usman v The State (2019) – SC.228/2016

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