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RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS ADMISSIBLE

Dictum

My Lords, the position of the law as it stands today is that the signed retracted confessional statement Exh. 7A taken in vernacular is admissible in evidence. What matters is the probative value to be attached to it.

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

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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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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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THE EFFECT OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

A confessional statement which is voluntarily made is an admission by the maker that he committed the offence. it is the best evidence in support of the case of the prosecution against an accused person. however, such evidence, apart from being voluntarily made, must be positive, direct, pungent and consistent with other facts as proved in the case.

– Adamu Jauro, JSC. Enabeli v. State (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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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CAN GROUND THE CONVICTION OF AN ACCUSED

It is now axiomatic that a confessional statement can ground the conviction of an accused person provided that it is direct and positive. It is therefore no longer debatable that a man may be convicted on his confessional statement alone which is voluntary, free, positive, so long as the Court is satisfied of its truth. Such a confession would constitute proof of guilt of the maker and suffices as evidence upon which to ground or sustain his conviction.

– Abdu Aboki, JSC. Chukwu v. State (2021)

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WHAT IS A CONFESSION?

A confession is defined as a statement admitting or accepting that one is guilty of a crime. Legally speaking; a confession is a statement by which an individual acknowledges his or her guilt in the commission of a crime. A person makes a confession when he is guilty of something which is criminal in nature. See Nsofor v State (2008)18 NWLR (pt.905)292; Abdullahi v State (2015) EJSC Vol.8)103. In short, a confessional statement is an acknowledgement expressly made by an accused in a criminal case, of the truth of the main fact charged or some essential part of it. See also Akpan V State (2001)11 SCM 66 or (2001)15 NWLR (pt.737)745; Nwachukwu v State (2002)12 SCM 143; Jimoh v State (2014) LPELR 22464 (SC); Onuoha v State(1987) 4 NWLR (pt.65)331; Adebayo v State (2015)EJSC (VOL.4) 60.

— A. Sanusi, JSC. State v Abdu Musa (2019) – SC.625/2016

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