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RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT MUST MEET FOLLOWING TESTS

Dictum

My Lords, the confessional statement of the Appellant was retracted by him in the course of the trial and the position of the law as reiterated by this Court in several cases is that the statement must meet the probability test set out in R. v. Sykes (1913) 18 CR All Pg. 233: a) Whether there is anything outside it to show the statement is true, b) Whether it is corroborated, c) Whether the statement made in it of fact so far as they can be tested are true, d) Whether the accused had the opportunity of committing the offence, e) Whether it is consistent with other facts which have been ascertained and have been proved.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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RETRACTION OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

Additionally, on the retraction of the contents of Exhibit A at the trial by the Appellant as DW1, the law is settled that a retraction or denial of a confessional statement does not affect its admissibility. Thus, the mere fact that a confessional statement is challenged on the ground that the accused person did not make the statement, does not render it inadmissible in evidence. In such a situation, the application of the following principles should be considered in determining whether or not to believe and act on a confession which an accused person has resiled from: a) Whether there is anything outside the confession which may vindicate its veracity; whether it is corroborated in any way; b) Whether its contents, if tested could be true; c) Whether the defendant had the opportunity of committing the alleged offence; or d) Whether the confession is possible and the consistency of the said confession with other facts that have been established.

– Sankey JCA. Abdul v. State (2021)

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS THE BEST EVIDENCE IN NIGERIA CRIMINAL LAW

I entirely agree with the contention of the Respondent’s counsel that the nature of the corroborative evidence required does not need to be direct evidence linking the Defendant to the commission of the offence. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient, particularly where it leads to no other conclusion than the guilt of the Defendant. I agree with the Respondent’s counsel that a confessional statement is the best evidence in Nigerian criminal jurisprudence as it is direct evidence by the perpetrator giving the reasons for and how the offence was committed. So long as it is voluntary and it is a direct and positive admission of guilt, it can be used to convict even where it has been retracted.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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CONFESSION ALONE CAN GROUND CONVICTION

Furthermore, it is also the law that the confessional statement of an accused person alone is sufficient to ground a conviction. A confession alone, properly proved, is enough to ground a conviction, even without corroboration. Thus, an uncorroborated confessional statement of an accused person can be acted upon, without more. Nonetheless, it is advisable to look for some evidence outside the confessional statement which makes it probable that the confession is true.

– Sankey JCA. Abdul v. State (2021)

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RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS ADMISSIBLE

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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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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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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